Oceanside is taking steps to make the San Luis Rey River Trail safer. Residents contacted the city about trail safety concerns. The chief complaint is the unlit underpass. Photo by Promise Yee
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Oceanside takes action to make bike trail safer

OCEANSIDE — Oceanside took prompt action to help make the heavily used San Luis Rey River Trail safer, after receiving several letters of concern from residents.

Complaints from residents are the railroad underpass at the west end of the trail is unlit and unsafe for nighttime bike riders.

The underpass is a NCTD right-of-way. It arches over the off-road bike trail between the Seacliff condos and North Coast Village condos, close to where the bike trail connects with North Pacific Street bike lanes.

A steep portion of the trail descends into the underpass from North Pacific Street, which further diminishes nighttime viability and safety.

Four residents initially requested to speak at the Aug. 24 council meeting about their concerns.

Prior to the City Council meeting the city got the ball rolling with NCTD to make safety improvements, and residents elected not to address City Council.

Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery is the city liaison to NCTD. He met with transit district officials two weeks ago to share residents’ concerns and find a way to remedy the situation.

Lowery said tentative plans are to add solar powered lights, which will be funded out of the city maintenance budget. He estimates lighting installation costs to be about $2,000.

Lights will be directed so they not interfere with nighttime train operations. Additional lights will not be added to the bike trail.

Lowery said while improvements are positive, he cautions cyclists and pedestrians not to adopt a false sense of security once lights are in place. He stressed people need to stay alert and be aware of their surroundings.

Lowery added he is pleased with the process in which residents brought concerns to the city’s attention, and NCTD worked with the city to find a solution.

“I’m really happy the community asked us to do something this simple. It is a basic solution and isn’t going to be a huge chunk of money,” Lowery said.

Underpass lights are expected to be installed by March 2017.

The full stretch of the 7.2 mile-San Luis Rey River Trail begins at Neptune Way and goes east to North Santa Fe Avenue. The trail has 10 access points for cyclists, joggers                              and dog walkers.