Bike lane, ‘sharrows’ cycling forward following Council vote

Bike lane, ‘sharrows’ cycling forward following Council vote
A bicyclist rides northbound along Coast Highway 101 in Leucadia, near where a bike lane will be installed. The bike lane was threatened by a recent objection from the California Coastal Commission. Photo by Jared Whitlock

ENCINITAS — Bicyclists breathed a sigh of relief at Wednesday night’s Council meeting. 

Under siege, a bike lane and “sharrows” are back on track and will soon debut on Coast Highway 101.

Council voted 5-0 to go ahead with the traffic projects despite objections from the California Coastal Commission.

“Driving down Highway 101 today, something needs to be done ASAP,” Councilman Mark Muir said.

Just last week, the bike lane and sharrows — markings that remind cyclists and motorists to share the road — were scheduled to move forward. But the work unexpectedly came to a grinding halt.

On Jan. 23, city staff received a letter from the Coastal Commission stating that proper permits hadn’t been filed for the projects. In turn, city staff argued that Encinitas is exempt from the permits.

Still, staff recommended Council hold off the bike lane for fear of the Coastal Commission imposing penalties, which range from a cease-and-desist order to fining the city $6,000 a day for a project that doesn’t come into compliance.

There were 30 public speakers at the meeting. Most urged Council to fight the Coastal Commission.

“Are we going to have the California Coastal Commission to be responsible for our biking and traffic safety in this city, or are you the elected representatives going to assume that responsibility?” asked Charlie Marvin.

Marvin said he’s cycled for 38 years on the Highway 101 corridor in Leucadia. The stretch is known for being among the most dangerous for bicyclists in the county. Because there isn’t much room for bicyclists in the lanes, he said there’s a greater likelihood of getting “doored” — a collision when a parked car door opens unexpectedly.

Other speakers cited the death of a cyclist several years ago in Leucadia on Coast Highway 101 as proof of just how unsafe the road is for those on bikes.

Bicyclists have promoted sharrow markings as a way to reduce collisions. Painted onto the ground, the sharrows are a reminder to all that bicyclists can legally occupy the middle of the road in the absence of a bike lane in close quarters.

Sharrows will be installed on the southbound lane of Highway 101 from La Costa Avenue to A Street, and also from D Street to K Street. Respectively, bicyclists and motorists going north on Highway 101 should spot sharrows from K Street to D Street, and then from A Street to Leucadia Boulevard. Within these spaces, there will be a sharrow marking in the middle of the lane every 160 feet or so.

The bike line is also designed to improve safety.

A northbound traffic lane just past Leucadia Boulevard is being eliminated to make way for an 8-foot bike lane. Two traffic lanes will merge into one beginning at Jasper Street. About 100 yards beyond that, the bicycle lane will start at Glaucus Street and connect with an existing bike lane at La Costa Avenue

A few at the meeting argued the “lane diet” would result in traffic jams.

“There’s going to be choke points,” Lynn Marr said.

City staff, however, said their analysis shows cutting down to one lane on the stretch wouldn’t have a significant impact on traffic.

In approving the bike lane and sharrows, Council argued that the Coastal Commission handled similar projects in the past differently.

“Coastal Commission I’m sorry but you just can’t change the rules mid-game,” Councilwoman Kristin Gaspar said.

Deputy Mayor Lisa Shaffer called upon citizens who are in favor of the traffic projects to contact the Coastal Commission’s office in San Diego.

After the vote, Rob Blough from the city’s traffic engineering division said he expected the bike lane and sharrows to be implemented “within the next week.”

 

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  1. Lynn Marr says:

    I don’t feel this article was well balanced. Sure, it’s a “feel good piece” to publish, with L101MA’s and the bicyclist’s “spin,” but other than only quoting me re “choke points” (thank you) the reporter didn’t bring up neighbors’ concerns about cut through traffic, slower emergency response times, and exacerbation of our current challenges with turning left, north onto Historic State Highway North 101 from residential neighborhoods west of the highway. Also not mentioned is that this is an initial phase of the North 101 Streetscape Plan, which was also a part of Agenda Item #5 for January 30.

    Relative to the Streetscape/lane elimination for motorists plan, access and egress to the Coastline is part of our community character here, in Leucadia. Roundabouts were voted down in Del Mar (with the help of Pam Slater-Price) and the City of Cotati, California, during the last General Election. Roundabouts have been removed in the City of Santa Rosa, California. Solana Beach, as you know, without voting on it at the election, but due to cost concerns, and after public outcry, also decided against installing roundabouts, there.

    The reporter could have personally interviewed some of the bicyclists, questioning them, since Council didn’t, about whether or not the accident referred to on North Highway 101 was related to a bicyclist going southbound or northbound on the highway? That is relevant, as the community objecting to the lane closure northbound were recommending sharrows on both sides of the highway, for bicyclists and motorists going northbound and southbound, which would further slow down traffic. I understand that the accident was caused by a drunk driver “drifting over?” That could have happened anyway, even if there was a bicycle lane, because the driver drifted from lane one, closer to the center divide, into lane 2.

    Our statements that the speed limit on North Highway 101 has recently reduced to 35 MPH were also not covered. Bicycle safety would be enhanced, as we all would like to see, were the speed limit enforced, and sharrows installed on BOTH sides of the highway, rather than forcing lane closure and creating a choke point for traffic, causing more danger, as frustrated, “road rage” drivers, might swerve into the 8 foot wide bicycle lane, trying to get out of gridlock, striking an unsuspecting cyclist, going “full bore.”

    My understanding is that most accidents or near collisions with bicyclists, along the corridor, have concerned cars and bicycles traveling southbound on North Highway 101. The bicyclists could have been asked what their typical routes are, and asked in what city they reside, do they bicycle to or from work on North Highway 101? Many of the accidents mentioned may not have occurred at all on the highway in Leucadia? These pertinent questions went unasked and unanswered, relative, specifically to lane closure on North Highway 101, northbound, from Leucadia Blvd. to La Costa. I have been told this morning that many of the bicyclists were referring to the same drunk driver accident, repeating it over and over. This wasn’t made clear, at the Jan 30 Council Meeting.

    I have lived in Encinitas since 1978, and at my present location since 1991. I have never seen Charles Marvin cycling; I have seen him, in the past, walking to Beacons beach from his home which is several blocks south, in the 200 block, Old Encinitas. I mention his general location, as he has shared, publicly, at Council Meetings, because Marvin’s access and egress to the highway would not be affected by the lane closure, as would residents’ who live adjacent to the North 101 Corridor, in Leucadia. His neighborhood would not be subjected to more cut through traffic, when traffic backs up during peak periods, as streets further north would, on Neptune, and connecting streets west of the highway, as well as on Vulcan, a school zone!

    Leucadia is being singled out for an “experiment” designed to mitigate a roundabout project, that would install 5 roundabouts, 4 of them with narrower diameters and less safety features than defined for true roundabouts, according by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, which recommends against roundabouts next to a railway corridor, or where cross traffic is significantly less than the main thoroughfare’s traffic, as is the case for these 4 roundabouts’ 3-way intersections.

    I hope Coast News will follow through with coverage on this issue. Glenn Sabine, our current City attorney, up for review, could have been questioned, about his opinion of the legal ramifications involved re staff not following City protocol and environmental law with respect to to completing analysis, measuring and qualifying both motorists’ and bicyclists’ traffic impact, and balancing their needs with the residents and the elderly and disabled, as required. Sabine’s snide remark, “I won’t use the words, ‘it depends’ anymore,” is insufficient; his “legal opinion” was an insult to Council and the public.

    If the lines are immediately redrawn, forcing lane closure on motorists, including locals, I hope Coast News will document and take photos of the resulting, increased congested conditions during peak periods, when motorist traffic is already backed up, many days. Photos could have taken photos of congested, backed-up traffic conditions during the recent slurry sealing process, when one lane was closed northbound, and morning traffic going northbound was terrible. Also, Coast News will be following through, I’m sure, by reporting any actions taken by the Coastal Commission.

    Marvin, as an attorney, also a a commercial property owner along the North 101 Corridor, who would benefit, disproportionately, were the Streetscape Project to go through, even though he, Morgan Mallory and Fred Caldwell pay very low property taxes, as they’ve owned their properties for so long, should not have encouraged the City to break its own rules and to defy Coastal Act law. We the taxpayers and adjacent residents suffer the consequences. Any fines to the City will also be at our expense.

  2. Al Ein says:

    Ms. Marr sounds clueless….. sigh

  3. Nick Hodgson says:

    Firstly i want to congratulate Lynn Marr on such an extensive and researched answer.
    As a 12 year leucadia resident west of 101 I am dismayed at the changes proposed and done. I have asked several locals what the chevron bike signs on the 101 meant and everyone didnt know. Such rare signs need a sign to explain what they are please.!!!
    Also to remove a lane going north seems insane while the city is allowing increased density of development which allows more cars ongoing. Its much more dangerous to enter 101 from Jupitor going north now . I am a huge supporter of roundabouts . America needs probably a hundred thousand more of them but only if they are big enough to allow for safe mobility. I am not sure they can be large enough on 101 unless they edge over onto the rail siding verge. I disdain any business along 101 wanting lanes removed to increase parking as this is not in the interests of the great majority of residents and drivers. I disdain special interest groups promoting the massive changes to the 101. All I want is a two lane road that does not get choked up before the lights. And a road that is easy to access both north and south that is not made more slow by over-planning . The Jupiter north entrance on 101 is now that much more tricky and hence more likely for an accident. Even the near invisible raised curb at Jupiter /101 has smashed more than a few wheel housings and is an act of municipal vandalism. Please don’t keep spending money on making things worse , I am not against the bike lane just wanted to know what it actually meant.. but a lot of the other plans don’t follow logic.

  4. j nocito says:

    Im a hit and run survivor Nov. ’92 on vulcan ave. I am all for anything making Leucadia safer and up to date. Inconveince for everyone is Promoting safety for all.

  5. John Smith says:

    I drive/ride the 101 here daily and I do not see any problems with the new change? It is always the same in that people that do not ride bicycles or motorcycles, do not like motorcycles or bicycles. Riding bicycles is going green and is good for us and good for the planet. I salute the council for a great decision that can save lives.

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