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Encinitas council advances concepts for two-way protected bike lanes from Cardiff to downtown Encinitas
A potential roadblock for the project may come from California State Parks, which has jurisdiction over Swami’s Beach. Courtesy photo
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Encinitas council advances two-way protected bike lane project

ENCINITAS — The Encinitas City Council gave staff the go-ahead last week to move forward with the design of a two-way protected bike lane along South Coast Highway 101 from the Swami’s Beach pedestrian crossing to Chesterfield Drive.

The cycle tracking project will utilize nearly $650,000 in grant funding from the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program. The city will also match $72,210 already allocated in this fiscal year’s budget.

The proposal would install the bike lane on the west side of Coast Highway connecting Cardiff to downtown Encinitas for cyclists.

The City Council approved the concept at its regular meeting on Dec. 8 and staff will return with a full design to present in the new year. According to the city’s projected timeline, construction would begin in summer 2022.

There was broad support for the concept presented by city staff by both the council and the majority of those in attendance.

“The two-way bike lane on the west side is just another example of the city’s leadership when it comes to building bike facilities that really allow people to feel safe riding their bikes and to mode shift out of cars and to capitalize on this amazing resource we have which is this amazing ocean,” Mayor Catherine Blakespear said.

Will Rhatigan, the advocacy manager for the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, spoke to the council to express his organization’s enthusiastic support for the concept presented by city staff.

“We think it’s an excellent proposal and encourage the city council to approve it,” Rhatigan said. “After a year in which 15 people have died while riding their bikes in San Diego County, we just really urge the city council to put safety first on this one and respect the evidence for cycle tracks.”

Rhatigan said his coalition does suggest extending the tracking northbound to K Street, connecting it directly with the downtown area so that those who wish to travel down 2nd Street through downtown won’t be tempted to cross the wrong way after exiting the cycle track.

Such an extension would surpass the city’s federal grant money and more funding would be required, but Blakespear expressed interest in the extension.

“It’s a great point especially since there are so many cyclists who go up to 2nd Street and so you will have a lot of people riding the wrong way in there,” Blakespear said. “Creating as much safety as we can between the Santa Fe undercrossing at Swami’s and K Street is really a good idea.”

Blakespear noted she hopes staff would work to ensure that the extension would not hold up the grant funding.

A potential roadblock for the project may come from the California State Parks, which has jurisdiction over Swami’s Beach. According to Councilmember Tony Kranz, the department recently sent a letter to the city expressing its opposition to the proposal as presented by city staff.

City Traffic Engineer Abe Bandegan says staff will be able to continue working with the state as it begins to fully design the project.

“We sure can restart a conversation, have meetings with them, sit down with them and get some clarification,” Bandegan said. “We have to come back with a full design in February or March so we have a good three months to discuss any kind of concerns or tweaks that we can make to the design to make things better.”