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Carlsbad teen recovering after e-bike, vehicle collision on Tamarack

CARLSBAD — A 14-year-old girl is recovering from injuries after she was struck by a vehicle while riding her electric bicycle on March 1 on Tamarack Avenue, according to the Carlsbad Police Department.

The incident occurred at 6:05 p.m. when a vehicle turned left onto James Drive off Tamarack Avenue before colliding with the e-bike, Lt. Alonzo Delevasco said.

The case remains under investigation.

According to other sources, the girl suffered a fractured skull, concussion and several broken teeth. She was transported to a local hospital and released later that night, Delevasco said.

Law enforcement did not disclose the young cyclist’s name. 

“They were turning into James Drive, making a left turn and collided,” he said. “We’re still trying to interview some witnesses.”

The collision is at least the third in the area since last summer including one that killed Christine Embree sparking a citywide state of emergency regarding e-bikes and vehicles. Another accident occurred weeks before Embree’s death when a speeding vehicle raced east on Tamarack Avenue when it lost control, veering into electrical transformer and smashing into several parked cars.

Residents have also pressured the city and City Council to act to reduce speeds along Tamarack Avenue. One action from the city was to install a “hawk light” at the intersection of Tamarack Avenue and Valley Drive, which is activated during school hours. However, residents have pushed back on the effectiveness of the light.

In August 2022, the City Council approved $2 million in emergency funding to pay for police overtime, street projects and a public outreach campaign. The police have been working on warnings and citations for motorists and cyclists, while a street project on Tamarack will consist of speed humps, raised crosswalks and other tools to slow traffic.

The city also partnered with the San Diego County Bike Coalition to promote the city’s Safer Streets Together campaign, which is a response to a more than 200% increase in bike and e-bike collisions citywide since 2019.

The campaign, though, urges safe practices from motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. The city has been pushing a pledge for residents to follow all laws, encouraging slower driving, putting away cellphones, stopping, wearing helmets and reflective gear, crossing at crosswalks and others.

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.

In March 2022, the City Council tightened its e-bike ordinance due to rising collision rates.

Since 2019, e-bike collisions have skyrocketed to 186 reported incidents, according to the Carlsbad Police Department, a majority of which were determined to be the operator’s fault. Of those incidents, 163 resulted in injury.

Law enforcement also reported 99 collisions from Jan. 2020 through July 2021. Among those reported incidents, e-bike or mobility device operators were at fault 72 times, Sgt. Scott Meritt told the council. He also reported the number of collisions increased from 39 in 2020 to 63 in 2021.

Marissa Kawecki, deputy city attorney, said in March 2022 the ordinance establishes definitions for e-bicycles and other regulated mobility devices and prohibitions on where they can be used.

The ordinance requires riders to use due care, reduce speed when necessary for safety, follow all rules of the road and dismount their mobility device on narrow trails (less than 5 feet wide) when within 50 feet of a pedestrian or horseback rider.

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