ENCINITAS — Representatives from two of the city’s Main Street organizations are attending a major bike/walk conference later this month to find solutions for the city’s growing transportation issues.
Kellie Shay Hinze, the executive director of Leucadia 101 Main Street Association, and Jody Hubbard, an Encinitas City Council candidate who is also a representative for the Cardiff 101 Main Street Association, are attending the Walk Bike Places convention Sept. 16 to Sept. 19 in New Orleans.
The convention, organized by the Project for Public Spaces and in its 20th year, is billed as “the premier conference in North America for walking, bicycling and placemaking professionals from the public and private sectors.”
Hinze and Hubbard said they are attending because they frequently hear from residents who complain that the city’s transportation network is becoming increasingly inhospitable to non-vehicular transportation.
“During my campaign, I’ve talked to people and asked them what their biggest concern is, and the prevailing theme I keep hearing is transportation issues,” said Hubbard, who is also a planning commissioner. “They feel with the increase in automobile traffic that walking and biking have become more dangerous, and it’s getting to the point where everyone is frustrated.”
Hinze said that she’s heard “much of the same” in Leucadia, where city officials are currently supporting a plan to transform the main arterial, Coast Highway 101, into a pedestrian- and bike-friendly street, but the plan is facing resistance from neighbors and the Coastal Commission.
“People are feeling constrained, our highway over the years was built to be a freeway, but over time, the uses around it have changed, and people are looking for alternatives to car travel,” Hinze said. “But it’s not safe, as our current road is designed, to support the different modes of transportation.”
The Walk Bike Places convention will include a series of mobile workshops, “super sessions” and breakout sessions on a variety of topics, including how to create bike- and pedestrian-friendly spaces, engaging the public in the design of such projects, maximizing limited dollars for projects, electric bicycle safety and laws and safe routes to school.
Hubbard said she is looking forward to one of the tours on the itinerary of New Orleans Broadmoor neighborhood, which was destroyed in 2005 in Hurricane Katrina, and later rebuilt into a more pedestrian and bike-friendly neighborhood.
“I am really looking forward to learning about some of the best practices that they used and seeing what we can do here in Encinitas,” said Hubbard, who said she is paying her way to the conference.
Both Hubbard and Hinze said they plan on presenting their findings to the public after they return from the conference. Cardiff 101 is planning a so-called “pop up” at Seaside Market from 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 14 where Hubbard will present what she learned from the conference.
Hinze said she looks forward to doing something similar in Leucadia when she returns.
“I am looking for inspiration and to be reinvigorated,” she said. “It is tough in Encinitas because we are having to scale back so many years of autocentric design, so I’ll be looking for best practices to bring back to the community.”