The Coast News Group
The city of Encinitas wants to team up with local school districts to improve bicycle safety. File photo
The city of Encinitas wants to team up with local school districts to improve bicycle safety. File photo
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Encinitas explores e-bike safety training for students on campus

ENCINITAS — As e-bikes become increasingly popular, the city is considering teaming up with school districts to provide on-campus instructors to teach bicycle safety while also changing local bicycle laws.

Mayor Tony Kranz and Councilmember Kellie Hinze proposed funding bicycle training instructors for the school districts at the March 8 council meeting.

“There seems to be a lack of certified trainers who can go into the schools and conduct extensive training, so we’re trying to fill that gap,” Hinze said.

The trainers would be certified as League Cycling Instructors through the League of American Bicyclists. While the city would help pay for the cost to certify trainers, the actual training classes for students would happen on school grounds.

The school districts and the city have also considered requiring permits for students who park their e-bikes on campus. However, those wishing to obtain a permit must take a training course first.

“It’s not an extra hurdle; it’s just really to make sure there is parent accountability, that they’re aware of what kind of bike their child is riding, and that they’re on board with their child going through training,” Hinze said.

Hinze noted the school districts would only want to implement the e-bike permits if they offered additional bicycle training first.

Additionally, the City Council discussed changing city law to allow for more enforcement opportunities. Currently, sheriff deputies can only ticket bicyclists who aren’t wearing helmets.

City Manager Pamela Antil said the city had discussed potential code changes with the county sheriff’s department.

“They’re going to give us the language and code section changes they would recommend,” Antil said.

Rather than going to court, ticketed bicyclists could go through a bicycle safety training course instead.

The city manager is expected to bring back an estimated cost to train bicycle trainers, what the structure of such a program with the school district would look like, and what potential code changes could be made as part of the bicycle safety diversion efforts.

Neighboring Carlsbad is also working on its own initiative to spread awareness and offer safety classes to kids through a partnership with the San Diego County Bike Coalition. The city declared a state of emergency last August after seeing a 233% increase in collisions involving bikes and e-bikes since 2019.

In other bicycle-related news, the Encinitas City Council extended the BCycle Bikeshare pilot project, renting out e-bikes for rides around town for another year.

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