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Community Encinitas

Traffic Commission takes on bicycle safety

ENCINITAS — It has been nearly a year since an unidentified motorist struck John Abate from behind on his bicycle on Leucadia Boulevard and nearly ended his life.

Since his near-fatal experience, the city has taken steps to improve cyclist safety along the street by painting a protected bicycle lane along a 1.8-mile stretch of the road between Quail Gardens Drive and El Camino Real.

On June 12, Abate stood before the Encinitas Traffic and Public Safety Commission, which was poised to take another action to improve cyclist safety along that stretch of road — the installation of rumble strips in the 2-foot buffer area between the bike lane and the roadway.

“What has already occurred is a step in the right direction,” Abate said. Regarding rumble strips, Abate opined that the hit-and-run driver might not have hit him had the driver rolled on the strip, a series of small divot lines in the road that alert motorists to pull back into the driving lane.

“If he or she had have drifted into the lane and heard the strips, maybe I would have had a different outcome,” Abate said.

The Traffic and Public Safety Commission unanimously approved the installation of rumble strips between Quail Gardens Drive and just short of El Camino Real, but also signaled that they are poised to take on the issue of cyclist safety from a citywide perspective.

This was music to the ears of cyclists in attendance, who urged the commission to continue to pursue the goal and not drop it.

“We want to emphasize the follow through,” said Jessica Cera, a professional cyclist and friend of Abate.

While the vote was unanimous, both staff and some commissioners had reservations with the rumble strips, namely whether they would be a hazard to cyclists attempting to pass other cyclists in the 6-foot-wide bike lane.

As part of the commission’s approval, they committed to following up on the effectiveness of the measures in six months.

The commission also said the measures should not stop with rumble strips and they should look at a comprehensive citywide bicycle safety plan that includes other concepts ranging from painted bike lanes to physical barriers.

1 comment

John Eldon June 17, 2017 at 9:16 am

Rumble strips and other barriers are not a panacea for cyclists.

First, as noted, the rumble strip will narrow the usable width of the bike lane and could lead to bicycle crashes on group rides.

Second, unless the rumble strip stops WELL before each intersection, it will prevent cyclists from assuming a destination-appropriate lateral position on the road, not just to make a left turn but also to avoid being right-hooked, left-crossed, entry-crossed, or otherwise struck because of either invisibility or motorist aggression or miscalculation. Through cyclists belong to the LEFT, not the right, of right-turn motorists.

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