Encinitas locals had their first opportunity on October 7 to see an upcoming master plan for a mid-city bike lane to run east of I-5, the entire length of the city, from Manchester Avenue in Cardiff by the Sea, to La Costa Avenue in Leucadia. The future project is designed to serve the residential neighborhoods along the freeway, as part of the on-going expansion of I-5.
In the last few years, the city has installed bike lanes along its coastal corridor; re-striping, adding green-painted lanes and sharrows, road diets (lane reduction), and the Coastal Rail Trail separated bike path.
City leaders have been criticized for giving the city’s roads over to bicyclists, causing more traffic, in their effort to get people out of cars. The city’s mobile electronic signs on Coast Highway have flashed messages advising “Bike Town Slow Down.”
The recently installed bike lane on Leucadia Boulevard, from the freeway east to El Camino Real is protected by the installation of bright green plastic pylons. Occasionally the pylons appear to have been run over and flattened, assumingly by angry motorists. The city quickly replaces the pylons.
About half of the meeting’s 40 attendees indicated they were cyclists, and will use the proposed bike lane. But even hard-core cyclists were skeptical of some sections of the proposed eight-mile bike path. Starting at the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Preserve at the I-5 Manchester off-ramp, the lane will proceed north to Mackinnon Avenue, Nardo Road, Requeza Drive, Westlake Street, Encinitas Boulevard, Saxony Road, Urania Street, terminating at La Costa Avenue.
Bike activist and member of the city’s Environmental Commission Jim Wang said some of the proposed bike lanes are on narrow roadways. “The routes are dangerous,” he said.
Caltrans is the lead agency for the city in funding and completing the new bike lanes, as part of the $240 million freeway-widening project. While Caltrans engineer Auturo Jacobo didn’t have exact figures, he said about three to four percent of the La Jolla Village Drive to Oceanside’s Harbor Drive freeway construction budget is dedicated to bike paths, as part of the state’s transportation multi-modal mission.
The adding of the mid-city bike lane will be reviewed, with public comments welcomed, over the next six months. Project manager Jacobo said phase one of the bike lane project, expected to be completed in 2021, would only be adding signage and striping to existing roadways.
Resident Mary Conway representing some of the frustrated motorists in the city, stated after the meeting, “Only 0.5 percent of the population can ride bikes,” indicating too much money is being spent for little-used bike lanes. “The changes [in Encinitas] are happening too quickly.” She said she plans to show up to a city council meeting, pass a hat, and ask who is willing to give up their car keys.