Blakespear: Advance Leucadia Streetscape in wake of Walker accident

Blakespear: Advance Leucadia Streetscape in wake of Walker accident
Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear will ask city staff to advance pieces of the Leucadia Streetscape project in the wake of an accident that critically injured one of the project's biggest supporters.

Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear is set to request city staff to devise an “immediate” plan to implement pieces of the Leucadia Streetscape in the wake of an vehicle-vs-bicycle accident that critically injured one of the plan’s biggest advocates.

Blakespear is set to ask city staff at the Dec. 12 City Council meeting to come up with a plan that will install the roundabouts and dedicated bicycle lane called for in the proposed Streetscape project in advance of the project’s other amenities.

The mayor’s announcement comes just days after Cardiff 101 executive director Roberta Walker was critically injured Dec. 8 when a truck hit her while she was cycling on Coast Highway 101 in front of the Leucadia post office near Phoebe Street. Sheriff’s investigators have provided little details about the incident, but said that drugs and alcohol do not appear to be a factor.

Walker, a staunch advocate of bicycle and pedestrian safety, remains in critical condition at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla.

“I’m sick over what happened to her,” Blakespear said about Walker. “I’ll be requesting that city staff put together an immediate plan to have the road operate as it will after Leucadia Streetscape is finished. We need a dedicated bike lane there and the roundabouts installed, even if they are only temporary structures.

“The remaining approvals needed for other agencies for drainage, parking in the rail right-of-way and other issues should not hold up the city from building the basic elements of the project to improve safety,” Blakespear said.

The Streetscape project, which the California Coastal Commission approved in October, has been a flash point of controversy in Leucadia, where opponents have launched an aggressive, albeit unsuccessful, campaign to stop it from moving forward.

It calls for the roadway to be narrowed from four lanes to two between La Costa Avenue and Leucadia Blvd, roundabouts to be installed at several intersections and dedicated bike lanes and other pedestrian-friendly amenities.

Roberta Walker, pictured, was critically injured in a bicycle crash Saturday morning. Photo courtesy of Cardiff 101 Main Street Association

Opponents have argued that narrowing the traffic lanes would snarl vehicle traffic on one of the city’s biggest thoroughfares and endanger residents during a disaster evacuation, pointing to similar concerns raised in the Camp Fire in Northern California that destroyed the town of Paradise.

They also have railed on the project’s estimated $30 million price tag, arguing that it would siphon dollars from other worthy projects across the city.

Supporters, however, have countered that Coast Highway 101’s outdated design puts pedestrians and cyclists in constant peril, and that narrowing the lanes will deter commuters from using the street to bypass traffic on Interstate 5.

Blakespear has been among the project’s staunchest supporters, appearing at the Oct. 11 Coastal Commission meeting to advocate for its passage.

Opponents of the Streetscape project offered their well wishes to Walker, but offered an alternative solution than moving forward with Streetscape: advancing the completion of the Leucadia segment of the Coastal Rail Trail.

“Members of the Encinitas Residents Coalition share the community’s sadness regarding the bicyclist who was injured in a truck-bicycle accident on Highway 101,” the group wrote in a prepared statement. “We sincerely hope she has a speedy and complete recovery.

“Like all residents we are concerned about safety on Highway 101. Since it is the major route through town and to the beach the road is shared with trucks, cars, bicyclists and pedestrians,” the statement continued. “We believe the best way to improve the safety of that highway is to provide an alternative to bicyclists that is away from cars and delivery trucks. Rather than clogging Highway 101 by dividing it into restricted lanes, it would be faster, easier, less expensive, and much safer to immediately install the proposed rail trail in the railroad right of way, as is being done right now in Cardiff. That solution would provide a truly safe alternative for bicycle riders.”

13 Comments
  1. Lynn Marr 3 months ago

    I agree with Encinitas Residents Coalition: the best solution for safety would be to immediately prioritize the rail trail corridor SEPARATED bicycle lane, for both northbound and southbound bicyclists, in the RR Right of Way. The Mainstreet Associations should not politicize this tragic accident. I offer my sympathy and well wishes for recovery to Roberta Walker.

    Which direction was the accident victim, Roberta, Walker, traveling on her bicycle? There is already a wide bike lane going northbound north of Leucadia Blvd to La Costa. Installing a roundabout would not have helped, here, as there is no roundabout planned at Phoebe and North Highway 101. Furthermore, all motor vehicle traffic, both northbound and southbound, would have to funnel through the narrow one lane roundabouts with bicyclists. The N101 Streetscape, as planned, is NOT the best safety solution, as attested to by Council Member Mark Muir, the only public health and safety expert on Council, as our former Fire Chief. The facts of life are that highways are generally not safe for bicyclists, absent a dedicated, separated bicycle lane.

    Mayor Blakespear should use commonsense. Traffic choking roundabouts, through which all bicyclists would have to funnel, would not improve bicycle safety.

    • Kristen Victor 3 months ago

      Lynn,
      As a cyclist riding from Pacific Beachbto Encinitas as my commute I have a question for you. Why do you think cars have priority over bikes on Hwy 101? Bikes, Peds, Transit must be prioritized over cars, period. It is the CO2 of cars that is damaging our health, our earth and our businesses. My life choice to improve my health and wellness, protect our Mother Earth and support local businesses is the sensible, logical, intelligent mode of transportation that MUST be prioritized over CARS in every future decision cities make. I applaud Mayor Catherine Blakespear for standing strong and tall to the NIMBY’s such as you. I send love and light to the beautiful Roberta Walker for a full and speedy recovery. My advise to you and your NIMBY friends : get out of the way and allow us who wear no armor while we commute have a safe , beautiful path closest to the ocean , because we have earned the right in our fight to save Mother Earth. NOW!

  2. taxpayerconcerns 3 months ago

    The city has given a false security with the “shared” lanes for bicyclists. Riding on a bicycle in the sharrow in front or behind a big rig or other vehicle should not be considered safe. The Mayor now wants to install a “temporary” streetscape with one lane roundabouts squeezing all traffic, big rigs, delivery trucks, cars, pickups, fire trucks, and bicycles into one lane. Put the bicycle path in the railroad right-of-way.

    • Kristen Victor 3 months ago

      No, you are so wrong with putting us cyclists next to the train. Why don’t you ride the train or bike and get out of your car? We deserve the best and safest view of our Mother Earth thatcwe ride to protect everyday.

  3. Nancy von Neumann 3 months ago

    Thank you, Mayor Blakespear! Let’s prevent another tragedy like this.

  4. Gerry Nance 3 months ago

    I moved to Carlsbad in 2010 and frequently drive to Solana Beach/Del Mar. I occasionally see bike riders riding 3 or 4-wide with a bike in traffic. Bike riders need to maintain situational awareness and not rely much on the 3 feet for safety law. Bike Lanes can be moved to parallel both sides of the rail road tracks. People on Vulcan often cross over the tracks to patronize 101 businesses, so why not install pedestrian over-under passes to accommodate those pedestrians every half-mile? Many drivers park along the rail road tracks to patronize 101 businesses and school functions. So, ultimately (west to east): remove the old growth “widow maker” trees in the center of the 101, allow pedestrians on the west sidewalk, parallel parking along the west curb line, 2 southbound vehicle traffic lanes, a landscaped center divider with Left/U turn lanes, one or two more stop signs/roundabouts, 2 northbound vehicle traffic lanes, parallel parking along the east curb line, sidewalk, southbound bike path, rail road tracks, northbound bike path, parking along southbound Vulcan.

  5. CDM 3 months ago

    What is really needed is better respect for bicyclists rights to share roads, especially Sharrow-designated streets. I’ve had two close calls in similar circumstances, both by truck drivers and in both instances, they clearly weren’t interested in giving the cyclist their rightful place on the street, failing to provide required 3 foot clearance.

    • Dick 2 months ago

      Respect for bikers? The same bikers (not all of them) that ignore rules of the road that cars must? Running stop signs, riding the line that separates the car lane and bike lane? It’s not realistic for everyone to commute by bike nor is it realistic for a family of 4 to ride their bicycles from Carlsbad to Del Mar for lunch, the beach etc. Yes, there are plenty of people in cars that need to slow down, but it is unrealistic for the city of Encinitas to funnel the cars to I-5 (which is their ultimate intention). We all need to share the road, but if the bikers want to be respected, lose the attitude, pay to register their bikes and pay for the roads that we pay for maintaining.

  6. Tom Applegate 3 months ago

    Best wishes to Roberta Walker for a speedy recovery.
    I do not support the Leucadia Streetscape Plan; unfortunately it will be detrimental to the majority of residents of North County and businesses along Hwy 101. Elsewhere this Plan would be described as a ‘road diet’; it is intended to discourage vehicular traffic primarily by reducing vehicle lanes. The reduction in lanes will result in a loss of business along Hwy 101. Studies repeatedly show the majority of traffic during commuting hours is local to North County and not ‘outsiders’ using 101 to circumvent the Hwy 5 as planners would like you to believe. Don’t ruin Hwy 101.

  7. Jeanne 3 months ago

    I love to ride my bike but will not ride on any shared road. Please make the bike path along side the railroad. Anyone that has visited the Netherlands knows what a real bike path looks like, completely separate from the cars!

  8. Eli 3 months ago

    I was one of the first people to stop on the scene of this accident, yes it is tragic but the bike in question had no lights or reflectors on it and the rider was not wearing a Reflective vest. We need to improve safety for bike riding no question but this accident was at dawns light and bikers need to play their part in the work of safety on the 101. I wish Miss Walker a Swift recovery.

  9. Mike 3 months ago

    The police should setup weekend enforcement of the 3 foot rule when passing cyclists. I see too many motorists who don’t know or don’t care about the safey of cyclist in Encinitas. I live in La Costa and have seen the positive changes Carlsbad has made for us cyclists over the last 10 years here and hope Encinitas follows our lead.

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