Photo courtesy of the city of Encinitas.
Community Commentary Opinion

Narrowing our historic Highway 101 is still not a good plan

In my commentary on October 4th, 2019 in this newspaper, “Cry, Our Beloved Leucadia,” I stated that “Streetscape basically benefits the bicycle community (about 400 in Encinitas) and a lot more bicyclists up and down the coast who like to ride three and four abreast.”

Recent letters to the editor from Greg Rahill and Elena Thompson questioned that 400 number.

According to the 2017 Census Bureau ACS 5-year estimate, there were 259 people who biked to work regularly. The total number of people who the city has estimated ride their bikes in the community is about 300!

Mayor Blakespear stated in her newsletter (data from city staff) that the bike ridership in Encinitas is 0.48%, and her goal is to increase it to 0.58%. The population in Encinitas is about 62,595, and a 0.48% ridership in the entire community is about 300 people. My estimate of 400 was generous.

The latest statistics for Encinitas (2017) show that 259 workers biked to work out of a total of 31,340 workers. Bicyclists equaled 0.82% of the 31,340. That means 22,500 (71.8%) people drove a car to work. Others car pooled, used public transit, motorbiked, walked or worked at home.

Questions? Please go to: https://datausa.io/profile/geo/encinitas-ca/ and scroll down to “Commuter Transportation”!

The mayor and City Council of Encinitas are committing a massive amount of our tax dollars — $50 million, in fact — on 2.4 miles of road to accommodate fewer than 400 local bicyclists and a whole lot of out-of-town bicyclists who use our city to go from point A to point B at our expense!

It’s a beautiful, charming stretch of highway, I don’t blame them. However, narrowing our four-lane historic Highway 101 through Leucadia to two lanes — one north and one south — is not a good plan. An alternate plan was presented to keep our four lanes and still accommodate bicyclists. It was supported by the majority of citizens. It was a win-win. What happened?

Sheila S. Cameron

former Mayor of Encinitas

1 comment

Fjlehnerz November 11, 2019 at 12:50 pm

While it’s great to see how and why the ex-Mayor arrived at a figure of 400, and it was very charitable for her to increase the estimate, she’s opened up a Pandora’s box of other issues pertaining to her arguments. Some of these are just a waste of everybody’s time and have been debunked. Others however are somewhat alarming- especially the territorial rhetoric expressed in the most recent letter. Coast Highway, as are the other roads in Encinitas, are public roads. They are not “yours,” they are everybody’s. A non-resident person traveling through to the next town on a bicycle even if for pleasure has just as much of right to that space as a resident of the city driving their personal automobile to their place of work.

As a good friend of mine always says, “roads are for people, not just for people in cars.” And I’d add that roads for for people and goods to travel from one place to another for a variety of purposes- not just to go to and from work. They’re used for a variety of other trip purposes. All these uses and trip types must be considered in order to help make legitimate decisions surrounding transportation. To only count the small (and probably undercounted/underreported) number of people who bike to work as the virtually the only trip type is intellectually dishonest. As for the groups passing through the city, what does riding two or more abreast have to do with anything here? Most of the lanes in Encinitas are too narrow for bikes and cars to share without someone having to move partially into the adjacent lane. In most cases riding two or more abreast so long as it’s done in the same lane is perfectly legal. It’s also safer for the bicyclists because they’re positioned on the roadway in a way that makes them visible and relevant.

The American Community Survey (ACS) does not poll every household as the normal ten year Census surveys do so there is a vastly smaller sample size. They select a small number of households to send these surveys to and not every body even responds. There’s probably a pretty good reason these are *estimates.* Furthermore, the questions in the survey pertain specifically for trips to and from a person’s work and not for any other reason. There are of course multiple other reasons someone may choose to drive a motor vehicle, a bicycle, walk, or take public transit to travel somewhere.

Lastly regarding cost, the ex-Mayor mentions a specific figure, $50 million. Being mindful of how public money gets spent is perfectly fine. However, most people have no idea how much these projects cost let alone even for very small or simple projects. Perhaps the ex-mayor should provide some comparisons so that people can actually try to make an educated decision. How many miles of freeway lanes (where bicyclists and pedestrians aren’t allowed) would $50 million build or refurbish, for example? Streetscape would benefit all users, not just one over the other.

The funding for the project won’t come from local residents alone either, it will come from a variety of sources, which all the people passing through the Mayor complains about probably helped fund as well. And even if they didn’t, they still have a right to use the public roadways in Encinitas as much as anybody else does. This fact makes the territorial rhetoric even more ridiculous.

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