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.
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.
“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.
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.