ENCINITAS — The sound of bicycle bells filled the air as over 100 residents and local leaders gathered on Saturday, Dec. 15 in Leucadia to support cycling advocate Roberta Walker and highlight concerns over transportation safety.
Walker, executive director of Cardiff 101 Main Street Association, was severely injured on Dec. 8 after being hit by a truck while riding her bicycle on North Coast Highway 101 near the Leucadia Post Office.
The “Ride for Roberta” event was hosted by Walker’s friend and colleague, Leucadia 101 executive director Kellie Shay Hinze.
The gathering was held near the location where Walker was struck and was an opportunity for the community to advocate for bike safety and support Walker as she recovers, according to Hinze.
“We are trying to uplift Roberta’s spirit,” Hinze said. “When she wakes up we want to show her that we’ve accomplished things and that there’s a beautiful show of support. She is one of the strongest and most dedicated people that we know and we want to have something to show for that.”
In addition to being a community leader, Walker is also a dedicated bicycle and pedestrian safety advocate, with a passion for keeping the streets of Leucadia safe for everyone, according to her friends.
“This is about bringing awareness to people and understanding that there’s a huge cycling community here,” said Leucadia resident Grace Brown. “I feel a lot of people don’t really understand what the sharrow lanes are or that the cyclists have the right to be in the lanes, so I’m hoping that people will finally understand more about what it means to be on the road with cyclists and what it means to be on the road together.”
Walker is also an ardent supporter of the proposed Leucadia Streetscape, a project started 10 years ago to enhance the North Coast Highway 101 corridor.
Encinitas Associate Planner Geoff Plagemann explained how improvements should increase safety in that corridor as previously reported by The Coast News, stating, “Components for this project include traffic calming measures and dedicated buffered bike lanes in the area. The Streetscape Project will enhance the environment for bicyclists and pedestrians.”
The project includes a bike lane, enhanced crosswalks, raised medians, roundabouts, increased parking options, public art and various landscaping elements.
“It’s time for us to move forward,” state Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath said. “This community has come together for 10 years to work on the North Coast 101 Streetscape and what we need now more than ever is strong voices that say we are not going to accept any more delay. It’s our time to come forward to make sure we finish what we started so this doesn’t have to happen again.”
A prayer and meditation was conducted as cyclists joined hands in unison before waves of cyclists began their ride through Leucadia and along the coastline.
According to officials, both Walker and a truck were headed southbound in the sharrow lane, a lane designated for both vehicles and bicycles, when the accident occurred.
Walker was taken to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, where she is currently in critical, yet stable condition, suffering serious injuries to her brain and spine, as well as several broken bones.
“When somebody who fights for a safer road is hit on her bicycle on one of the roads that she’s fighting for, there’s a cruelty and a tragedy in that,” said Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear. “We’re here today to see that and recognize that but to also turn that into hope and commitment in the better world that she’s fighting for and that were all fighting for.”
Friends and family have set up a website to provide status updates on Walker’s progress and request that any correspondences be forwarded to the website at this time.