CARLSBAD — City officials and cycling advocates gathered on the grounds of Valley Middle School and Magnolia Elementary School on Jan. 25 to spread the word about traffic safety.
Staffers, police officers, several city council members and the San Diego County Bike Coalition all helped promote the city’s Safer Streets Together campaign as part of the city’s response to a more than 200% increase in bike and e-bike collisions citywide since 2019.
Last summer, the city declared a local state of emergency shortly after two fatal bicycle-vehicle collisions in August, and has since extended its emergency status for an additional 60 days during a Jan. 23 meeting.
Residents along Tamarack Avenue have long warned and levied complaints about high vehicle speeds and issues with cyclists.
Since declaring a local emergency, the city increased enforcement, held training classes and educated community members about traffic safety rules. The campaign is designed to encourage safe behavior on the road, such as slowing down, sharing the road and riding a bike in the same direction as traffic.
“Public safety is a team sport, and we each need to do our part,” said Carlsbad Police Chief Mickey Williams.
At a news conference on Jan. 25, middle school students joined city and school officials, bike and walking groups and local businesses in asking the public to take a stand on traffic safety.
The city has installed a controversial “hawk signal” at Valley Street and Tamarack Avenue to help slow speeds. The city also presented a plan last fall to lower speeds, add speed bumps and raised crosswalks on Tamarack Avenue.
However, those improvements will take months, if not one or more years, to construct.
The City Council approved $2 million in emergency funding in August 2022, money left over from the previous year’s budget, to pay for police overtime, street projects and a public outreach campaign.
“E-bikes are a great way to get around, they’re good for the environment, and they take cars off the road,” Frank said. “This is a case where the laws haven’t kept pace with technology. In the meantime, we are doing everything we can to create the safest environment possible, but even the most well-designed street will be unsafe if the users are unsafe.”
Some of the improvements and actions the city has taken since the emergency was declared include: upgraded crosswalk signals to provide pedestrians with a “head start” when crossing the road at 22 locations around schools and 10 locations around Carlsbad Village; added green markings to bike lanes at 18 locations in the city, with 37 more approved at the last City Council meeting; added or improved lane markings at 22 areas around schools; prepared a customized e-bike safety class taught by the police department that first-time offenders can take instead of paying a fine for a citation; issued nearly 4,000 citations, including written warnings; and redesigned the lane striping on 90 miles of streets throughout Carlsbad to slow traffic and provide more space for bicyclists.