On May 20, the Encinitas city council voted 3 (Lisa Shaffer, Tony Kranz, Catherine Blakespear) to 2 (Kristin Gaspar, Mark Muir) to build a multipurpose rail trail along San Elijo Avenue in Cardiff.
I am very pleased to know we will have one more piece of the puzzle for those of us who choose non-motorized transportation.
We all really want the same thing — to move safely and easily from Point A to Point B.
We just each have different ways of doing it — some prefer an auto, and I don’t begrudge them that preference; some prefer a bicycle or simply using their feet.
The bravest cyclists are willing and wishing to share the existing road with the motorist.
But a large chunk of our population would love the opportunity to cycle to work, on errands, to a social event, or to the beach — but they’re too afraid. While the motorists have a city’s worth of pavement to traverse, the cyclist is left with a patchwork of disconnected paths.
We are only asking for that which the motorists already have.
Have you ever noticed the subliminal assumption many of us make: people in cars are going somewhere important; people on bikes are just out having fun.
I heard it reflected in the statements at the meeting. “You cyclists have a lane on 101, why do you need San Elijo?”
If I asked the question in reverse, would it somehow sound odd to you? — “You motorists have a road on 101, why do you need San Elijo?”
The concerns of the Cardiff residents opposing the trail are real — they are worried about 1) a potential fence along the railroad tracks 2) changes in the parking situation, and 3) the challenge of exiting their driveways in an automobile. Those are solvable problems and the City Council is actually working to solve them.
1) We have been asking for at-grade crossings for decades.
Thanks to the work of our NCTD representative, Councilman Kranz, a partnership is being forged with the transit district that could make at-grade crossings a reality.
And thank you to Councilwoman Shaffer for asking pointed questions of NCTD at the council meeting to move the process along.
We need more crossings, so everyone will have safe and legal access to the beach. We may currently have access — but it is neither safe nor legal. If you want more pedestrian crossings, tell all of your city council members and ask what you can do to help.
2) Parking will change — but there will be enough of it. If you don’t like the current proposal of how to lay it out, propose something else.
You may have to walk a short distance from your car to your home, but this is the land of good weather and healthy folks. Walking is good for all of us.
3) Exiting your driveway safely. I don’t know the perfect answer. Perhaps the city can provide free mirrors for all homes on San Elijo. It is a challenge.
But it will be a challenge with or without a bike path. More people are coming to Encinitas because it’s an amazing place and that means more traffic on all of our roads.
Narrowing the lanes to allow for auto, cyclist, and pedestrian activity will slow the traffic and potentially make the difficult task of leaving your homes a bit easier.
And finally — one resident ended his presentation by saying “We are at war.” I countered, stating that this is not a war. War is much more serious.
But I’ve been thinking. This is how wars get started — because of silly little disagreements — because people work against each other and not together.
We can solve this problem together.
I can’t wait to see the first real estate ad for a home on San Elijo Avenue — “beautiful ocean view home, just across the street from a delightful cycling/walking path. A three-minute bike ride to both the local grocery store and world famous surfing.”
Judy Berlfein is an Encinitas resident.