OCEANSIDE — A ribbon cutting ceremony opened a newly paved section of the San Luis Rey River Trail on March 31. The trail now stretches nine miles from the west end of Neptune to North Santa Fe Road.
“It makes the city a better place,” Nathan Mertz, parks development manager, said. “You can’t hang a value on this and what it does for the community.”
The Class I bike trail sits completely separate from roadways and is used by cyclists, runners and walkers. Some of the benefits the trail brings the city are additional recreation space, increased tourism and raised property values, Mertz said.
Peter Pensyres, an avid cyclist and member of the Bicycle Committee, helped Mayor Jim Wood cut the ribbon to open the new section of trail. Pensyres has ridden across the Unites States a dozen times in the Race Across America bicycle marathon. He also rode his bike to work for 23 years. “I’d rather ride a bike than drive a car,” Pensyres said.
Pensyres teaches bike safety classes. He said bike trails away from traffic are wonderful, but cyclists need to know how to ride defensively. He added that 80 percent of bike accidents are caused by road hazards and cyclists riding without regard for the rules of the road.
The Bicycle Committee has been a key go-to source to help determine how to extend the San Luis Rey River Trail, Mertz said.
The first section of the paved trail opened in 1990 and has been steadily added on to in sections. Grant funds have paid for most of the trail construction costs, and all of the costs of adding the newest section, Mertz said. Future plans are to extend the trail in two more sections to the eastern border of Oceanside.