ENCINITAS — Residents can expect new bicycle lanes, buffers, paving, and crosswalks for cyclists at various road segments throughout Encinitas after the City Council approved several bike safety projects last week.
The approved projects, which total around $1.1 million, were brought forward on Jan. 10 as part of the city’s ongoing focus on cyclist safety.
Last summer, the death of a local 15-year-old who was killed while riding an e-bike in Encinitas spurred the city to declare a state of emergency and set priorities for improving bicycle safety, which included beefing up bike infrastructure.
“When we declared the bicycle emergency last summer, we talked about going after education, enforcement and engineering. I just want to say thank you, because I think with the addition of this plan, we’ve really made strides in all three,” said Councilmember Allison Blackwell.
The new infrastructure will include the addition of Class II bike lanes at Saxony Road from Encinitas Blvd to the Leichtag Foundation property; Westlake Street from Encinitas Boulevard to Requeza Street; and Village Park Way from Mountain Vista Drive to Diegueno School.
Bike lane buffers, which provide a small space between the vehicle and bike lanes, will also be implemented along various segments of Garden View Road, South El Camino Real, and Manchester Avenue.
Another approved project will add a crossing path for cyclists parallel to the pedestrian crosswalk, known as a crossbike. These will be at the intersections of Santa Fe Drive and El Camino Real, Balour Drive and Encinitas Boulevard, and Manchester Avenue and Mira Costa College.
Another crossbike recently became active in the city at the crossing at Chesterfield Drive and South Coast Highway 101.
“I’ve been watching many cyclists as they ride in the bike lane, cross the intersection, go up on the sidewalk, become pedestrians for a moment, and hit the button. I think the crossbike is an even better solution there,” said Councilmember Bruce Ehlers.
Other improvements will include additional signage warning vehicles to watch out for cyclists and sharrow lanes, which include painted symbols on the road to inform motorists and cyclists that vehicles and bicycles share the lane.
Residents supported the approved projects, thanking city leaders for their commitment to bicycle safety.
“Anytime we can get new bike lanes and kind of redesignate some space on the roadway to include space for cars and bicycles, that’s a good thing,” said resident Christine Schindler.
While the approved projects total just over $600,000, the City Council also opted to add new slurry sealing in the new bike lanes and buffers for an added $500,000. Resident Michael von Neumann urged the council not to pass up this extra step.
“Spend the money. Slurry seal whenever possible before restriping because it makes the new striping a lot more noticeable and it gets the attention of the motorists,” von Neumann said.
City leaders did reject one project from the suggested list, which proposed implementing a two-stage bike box along Encinitas Boulevard at Vulcan Boulevard. This would provide a painted green box out of the flow of traffic where bicyclists can wait to make a left turn.
Abe Bandegan, a city traffic engineer, suggested implementing a bike box as a pilot program to observe how and when cyclists use it. However, city leaders worried it would be confusing for motorists and cause issues on the roadway.
Local organization Bike Walk Encinitas also suggested forgoing the boxes, recommending that the city first see through other improvements at Encinitas Boulevard and Vulcan, including moving back the crosswalks, adding loop detectors, upgrading curb ramps and adding a signal or button for cyclists.
“I think we should not do left-turn boxes at this time. I think we should take recommendations from Bike Walk Encinitas,” said Councilmember Kelly Hinze.
The projects will be funded by the city’s Safe Routes to School Sidewalk Program, General Mobility Improvements and Innovative Bike Lanes funds.
During the Jan. 10 meeting, the city also separately approved the addition of new bike lanes and bike buffers along Saxony Road and Quail Gardens Drive. This is part of a larger traffic-calming project that includes adding two mini roundabouts, sharrows and four-way stops.
The City Council also approved the implementation of an all-way stop at the intersection of La Costa Avenue and Sheridan Road and approved updates to the draft Encinitas Traffic Management Program.