9/15/19: Help Us Get Barrier-Protected Bike Lanes on Coast Highway!

I’m excited to tell you about a proposal to create a protected bike way, sometimes called a cycle track, on Highway 101 through Cardiff and across the lagoon, from Chesterfield Drive south to the border with Solana Beach. A cycle track is a physically separated bicycle-exclusive path along a road. 

This project would upgrade the existing Class II Bicycle Lane to a Class IV Cycle Track, as shown in the graphic below, effectively connecting our 1.3-mile Cardiff Rail Trail to the 1.7-mile Solana Beach Rail Trail.

This upgrade is good for climate reasons, encouraging mode shifting out of cars, creating transportation options, promoting a healthy lifestyle by getting more exercise and increasing access to the coast and nearby communities.

The proposal will be considered by the City Council at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 25 at City Hall. 

The project would not remove the two vehicle lanes that travel in each direction and can be done relatively quickly and within the city’s budget.

The idea is to have bicyclists protected by parked cars, candlestick bollards and rubber wheel stops to prevent a car from entering the bike way. 

It’s abundantly clear to many of us who are recreational cyclists that we’d like to feel safe riding kids to school, the beach, dinner, or work. And the typical road infrastructure of painted bike lanes next to speeding traffic doesn’t make us feel safe enough to choose to ride a bike, especially with a child on board. 

This perspective is backed up by studies. Last May, Separated Bike Lanes Means Safer Streets, Study Says summarized a study of 12 large metropolises, finding 44% fewer deaths in cities with protected and separated bike lanes: 

“[R]esearchers found that bike infrastructure, particularly physical barriers that separate bikes from speeding cars as opposed to shared or painted lanes, significantly lowered fatalities in cities that installed them.” 

In 2012, a study in Portland found that physically separated bike lanes are attractive to people who fear for their safety on the road. In the “interested but concerned” category, which is the target group for new cyclists, 81% said they were very comfortable or somewhat comfortable with a separated lane, versus 39% for a regular bike lane.  

To be fair, there is opposition to this project among some cyclists. For 0.5% of the population, the current road striping – paint with no physical separation – works for them to feel comfortable biking to work.

There is also a sizable active sport cycling community and a number of dedicated bicycle road commuters who thoroughly enjoy this section of road. Some of those in opposition live elsewhere and travel through Encinitas on weekends. Many consider this open section of roadway through Cardiff to be one of the nicest in the county. 

But for many navigating this section where speeds are regularly 50+ MPH for 20,000 daily car trips, this feels like a risky proposition. So people choose not to ride.

This decision about our infrastructure must also be viewed though a Climate Action lens. Statewide, we are aiming to reduce car emissions per person by 19% in the next 15 years. How can we possibly do that without making other ways of traveling more appealing? 

I believe this project is the best choice for the most people, but the reality is that “would be” cyclists can be hard to reach and mobilize.

If you like the proposed idea, please consider writing a supportive email to the City Council at council@encinitasca.gov or speaking in favor at the City Council meeting where it will be discussed on September 25 at 6 p.m. Every voice matters!

(Credit: I’ve used phrases and summarized from the article “Risk of Injury for Bicycling on Cycle Tracks Versus in the Street” by Anne C. Lusk, et al.) 

Public support bolsters Coaster train discussion 

Encouraging news! In my last newsletter, I wrote about an upcoming board-level discussion at SANDAG regarding funding more trains as part of a countywide transportation plan. I was very grateful to the many people who rallied for new Coaster train sets for the North County Transit District (NCTD) – trains that will enable more frequent and convenient Coaster service between San Diego and Oceanside.

I think the emails, public speakers, the presentation by the NCTD executive director, and overall engagement came as a surprise to some elected officials who hadn’t heard such advocacy for North County trains before.

Our supervisor, Kristin Gaspar, also expressed support for the money for new trains, which I was happy to hear. I’ll continue to advocate for that critical expenditure, and based on board-discussion, I would be surprised if it was deleted from the final budget.

Here’s more from the Encinitas Advocate, “SANDAG Unveils Spending Blueprint For Traffic Prone Commuter Corridors Vexing Backers of Freeway Expansion,” and the Coast News, “SANDAG Looks at Funding More Trains.”

Housing update

After three hours of divergent opinions and three failed motions, the SANDAG board passed a housing plan for the next state-mandated housing cycle based on the staff-recommended methodology. Encinitas’ allocation of 1,555 is within the amount we zoned for during the last housing cycle, which means we won’t have to go back to the voters with a new upzoning plan.

I described the methodology of how units were assigned in this July 28 newsletter. The numbers and the methodology used in this recent decision are essentially the same as I described.

After chairing the SANDAG housing subcommittee, I don’t think it was ultimately effective at getting consensus from board members, but it did help deepen the understanding of how housing policy works. Ultimately, I’m relieved that the board’s decision will keep us right with the law, and not risk a drawn-out, risky disagreement with the state’s regulatory agency over housing. I can’t see any way to allocate 171,000 homes among 18 cities and the county that would make everyone happy. The transit/jobs formula was applied equally to all cities – with no gimmicks, carve-outs or special considerations. 

We have only to look northward for an example of how managing housing requirements can backfire. In the greater Los Angeles area, elected leaders rejected the approximately 600,000 units proposed to them and the state regulatory agency came back with a requirement of 1.3 million units over the next 8 years. I’m glad we’ve avoided a situation like that here! Have a look at this Los Angeles Times editorial.       

It’s festival season!

It was a joy to help cut the ribbon on the annual Greek Festival in Cardiff. (Photo by McKenzie Images.)

And the annual San Diego Botanic Garden Gala unveiled the impressive new conservatory that features plant chandeliers. It was a lovely evening! (Photo by McKenzie Images.)

Finally, next Saturday, September 21, is World Gratitude Day – such a great idea. It started in Hawaii back in 1965, and was created to dedicate a day for people to pause and “formally express gratitude and appreciation for the many wonderful things to be found in the world.” (Thanks to former Encinitas Mayor Teresa Barth for spotlighting this idea in her Community Connections newsletter!)

Let’s all pause to acknowledge gratitude on World Gratitude Day next Saturday! 

In service,