Encinitas Advocate News

Council approves crosswalks, rumble strips as interim measures for Streetscape

Encinitas will take temporary measures in an effort to make Coast Highway 101 in Leucadia safer until a $30 million overhaul of the street begins in the fall.

The city council on Wednesday, Jan. 9 unanimously agreed that four raised crosswalks with rumble strips should be installed on the street -- at El Portal, Grandview, Basil and Phoebe Streets -- as well as two additional at-grade crosswalks with rapid flashing beacons at El Portal and Grandview Streets.

The cost for those two measures is $330,000, and both could be completed before the end of March, according to city staff.

The measures are temporary methods to expedite the Leucadia Streetscape project, a long-planned overhaul of a 2.5-mile stretch of Coast Highway from La Costa Avenue to A Street, including bike lanes as well as sidewalks and six traffic circle roundabouts. The council-approved project was backed by the California Coastal Commission in October.

The council also approved one additional raised crosswalk with rumble strips to be installed south of La Costa Avenue to indicate to drivers that they are entering an area with slower speeds. The governing body also asked city staff to look at installing signage encouraging vehicles to drive in the farthest left lane to allow bikes to utilize the full right lane.

The council felt a need to expedite the Streetscape project after Roberta Walker, the executive director of the nonprofit Cardiff 101 Main Street Association, was critically injured Dec. 8 when a truck hit her while she was riding her bike on Coast Highway 101.

According to the most recent post in a blog about Walker's condition, posted Jan. 3, Walker has been making progress and working with doctors, physical therapists and occupational therapists.

City staff on Wednesday said the project could possibly break ground in September, rather than in November, as they had previously projected.

About a dozen residents spoke at Wednesday's meeting, with many in opposition of a proposed interim five-foot bike lane from La Costa Avenue to Encinitas Boulevard, which would have cost between $1.55 million and $1.8 million and would not have been completed until late May.

Opponents to the bike lane said adding such a lane so close to parked cars would put cyclists in a "danger zone" of getting hit by car doors or having to veer into traffic to avoid such an encounter.

Additionally, speakers noted the bike lane would require the removal of sharrows, which indicate shared lanes between motorists and cyclists. Removing the sharrows could confuse all travelers to believe bikers have to remain in the bike lane while riding, one speaker said.

Jim Wang, who sits on the city's environmental commission, said while he appreciated the city staff's research, comments from cyclists were more helpful.

"It takes a lot of riding experience to know what's safe and unsafe for bikes," he said. "You can't really get that from books."

Speakers also said adding the lane would require the removal of 10 healthy trees, would be too costly and would take too long to install.

Mayor Catherine Blakespear said she believes the lane would have been a better idea than the current sharrows but noted there were too many downsides to installing the lane.

"We need to think about the large number of cyclists who ride with the buffer," she said. "I know there are people who have adapted to sharrows but I continue to feel they're not ideal."

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