The Coast News Group
Dr. Jennings Worley memorial
A memorial for Dr. Jennings Worley at the corner of Leucadia Blvd. and Moonstone Ct. in Encinitas. Worley, a scientist working toward a cure for cystic fibrosis, was killed on November 28 in a traffic collision in Leucadia. Photos by Caitlin Steinberg
Cities Community Encinitas Encinitas Featured News Obituaries

Cyclist’s death inspires bike safety advocates in Encinitas

ENCINITAS — A bicycle adorned with colorful flowers and candles has memorialized the life of  Dr. Jennings Worley, who was killed on November 28 in a fatal traffic collision while riding his bike along Leucadia Blvd. 

Worley, an avid cyclist, was also a leading scientist in the fight to cure cystic fibrosis. In 2004, Worley and his family moved to San Diego to join Vertex Pharmaceuticals where he dedicated the last 16 years of his life, according to his obituary. Worley also helped develop several bio-engineering patents.

On Sunday, Dec. 6, Worley’s family and friends gathered for a community blessing with members of the local cycling community, tethering a bike to a street sign at the intersection of Leucadia Blvd. and Moonstone Court. Worley’s bike was surrounded with a number of his personal items, including a canister of Old Bay seasoning, boba tea and a San Diego Padres hat with a message written on the front.

Dr. Jennings Worley
Dr. Jennings Worley. Courtesy photo

According to Worley’s obituary, his loved ones remembered “every decision in his life, small or large, was fueled by his intense devotion and passion for all things he loved,” inspiring a lifelong career in medical research, culminating in a team responsible for breakthrough medications treating cystic fibrosis.

His untimely death has reignited impassioned conversations about bike safety, prompting the local cycling community to reevaluate safety measures within the city of Encinitas.

“We’ve seen an outpouring of deep concern and love from the community,” remarked attendee Elena Thompson, a friend of the Worley family and member of Encinitas Bike Walk. “The event was about healing… and now we move forward with practical, actionable solutions.”

As a bike and pedestrian safe mobility activist, Thompson and others continue to lobby the Encinitas City Council to examine its existing roadway function and mobility design, mobility infrastructure.

Dr. Jennings Worley bike memorial
Worley’s bike was adorned with flowers and personal items in Leucadia. Photo by Caitlin Steinberg

“Jennings was a scientist looking for solutions to worldwide diseases,” Thompson said. “He would want solutions to these public safety issues in our city that are not being addressed.”

Thompson addressed the City Council on Dec. 9, requesting council members enact a “new and revised game plan” by utilizing resources to improve the city’s biking infrastructure.

“We’re North America’s cycling capital with our incredible climate and we have a mobility-driven City Council. Why can’t we do better? Why can’t we get this right?” Thompson said to the Coast News.

“The death of our friend has inspired us to bolster our activism and urge the city to finally hire a true mobility, active transportation expert on the city staff so the city council can put their money where their mouth is and achieve their noteworthy and critical strategy and goals of mobility and mode-shift,” Thompson said.

According to Thompson, the long-awaited Streetscape Project, which features traffic calming measures such as roundabouts and improved accessibility, is a much-welcomed improvement along Coast Highway 101 in Leucadia, however, it is not a sufficient final solution.

Dr. Ejnnings Worley memorial
Flowers, candles and personal items were placed on the memorial in Leucadia. Photo by Caitlin Steinberg

The City of Encinitas has made moves to improve bike safety, installing a protected bike lane along Coast Highway 101 in May of 2020, however, the lanes have sparked controversy and divergent opinions among residents. 

Serge Issakov, a board member of both the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition and San Diego Mobility Board, also attended the Nov. 6 community blessing and sees forthcoming improvements as challenging, yet achievable.

Issakov believes it is difficult to compile complete and accurate data on bike crashes as many times, individuals choose to not report the accident to the police. While this leaves room for disagreements and personal biases, in general, Issakov believes most people want the same thing.

“Everyone seems to want to get more people bicycling safely,” Issakov said. “The question is how do we actually accomplish this and convey that to others?”

For those wishing to send condolences or donations, Dr. Worley’s family has requested any donations to be sent to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in his name at https://give.cff.org/tribute/JenningsWorley.

Dr. Jennings Worley’s obituary can be found here.

2 comments

concerned December 15, 2020 at 6:40 pm

With sympathy to Dr. Worley’s loved ones. Where are the photos of the redesigned bicycle lane on Leucadia Blvd. that was demanded by the Mayor and city council to get more families including the toddlers to ride more often in traffic? Bollards, those vertical posts are placed between the right hand vehicle lane and the dedicated bicycle lane next to the curb extend almost to the right turn area into Moonstone Court.
The council is pursuing more of this type of redesign on more of Encinitas streets as part of their Climate Act Plan to get more people out of cars and on bikes.

Reply
christiandflores December 15, 2020 at 11:51 pm

The city needs to immediately change those road signs. The current signage design suggests that it is acceptable for vehicles to perform right turns WITHOUT first MERGING into the shoulder. This creates unsafe right hook situations for riders, like the one we’ve unfortunately been discussing. Drivers always think they can beat the bicycle.

The correct signage should show vehicles merging BEHIND the cyclists BEFORE turning.

Reply

Leave a Comment