The Encinitas City Council unanimously approved a plan designed to make South Coast Highway 101 safer for local cyclists between Chesterfield Drive and the Solana Beach border.
At the council’s Sept. 25 meeting, Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear said there is “great untapped hunger” for local residents to travel around the city without their cars, if city streets are modified to better accommodate bicycles and other alternative modes of transportation.
“This project to me is the epitome of the beginning of that,” she said.
The new street layout will separate bike lanes from traffic with flexible delineators. At the urging of Encinitas residents and other public speakers who cycle along that stretch of road, the outermost traffic lanes will also include sharrows, which are painted on the road to let drivers know cyclists can also use the full lane, and signs indicating cyclists and cars must share the lane.
The plan is also meant to reduce emissions by encouraging more residents to use their bicycles instead of their cars. It’s also designed to better link the city to Solana Beach, the Cardiff rail trail and the Leucadia Streetscape Project, which is scheduled to begin construction in November.
“Our world continues to change, and I think we have to keep changing with it,” Encinitas Deputy Mayor Jody Hubbard said.
Over more than one hour of public comment, many of the 40 speakers asked council members to account for everyone who uses the road. The sharrows and additional signage that the council decided to include were for more experienced cyclists who said they want to be able to use the outer traffic lane to avoid pedestrians and slower riders. Several other speakers said the protected bike lanes are crucial to avoid cars traveling up to 50 mph, especially for local children who ride their bikes along the 101.
“The protected bike lane has to be,” said Kevin Doyle, an Encinitas resident, parent and member of the Planning Commission. “We need it.”
The project will cost $500,000. City Councilwoman Kellie Hinze said long-term plans for the 101, such as a road diet that further encourages cycling and alternative, greener methods of transportation, will still be under consideration moving forward.
“This project is the best choice for the most people,” she said of the plan approved Wednesday night.
Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath, D-Encinitas, speaking publicly at City Hall for the first time since leaving the council for the Legislature, said the plan will bring “the type of mobility that we need.”
“Let’s not dilly dally,” she said. “Let’s not delay.”