Encinitas leaders push for changes to Coast Highway after bike safety advocate suffers serious injuries

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The mayor of Encinitas wants to step up efforts to make changes to North Coast Highway 101 after a well-known bicycle safety advocate was seriously injured while riding her bike.

42 year old Roberta Walker was hit by a truck on the highway early Saturday, just a block or two from her Encinitas home. She suffered broken bones, as well as injuries to her brain and spine.

Walker, who heads a community group, Cardiff 101 Main Street, has been an outspoken supporter of a plan called North Coast Highway 101 Streetscape.  The plan by the City of Encinitas would create a dedicated bike lane in both directions, add crosswalks, sidewalks and install traffic roundabouts in six locations along a two and a half mile stretch of 101; from La Costa Avenue in Leucadia to the city’s main business district.

To make room for a separate bike lane, the road would be reconfigured to reduce vehicle traffic from two lanes to one.

City Council Member Tony Kranz said the changes may add another minute or two to auto trips from one end to another, but he said that would be a minor cost for the sake of safety. “The tradeoff for more safety for bicyclists and pedestrians is in my opinion, worth it,” Kranz said.

Opponents of Streetscape have argued that the new design will lead to traffic congestion and make access to the beaches more difficult.

Mayor Catherine Blakespear and other supporters of the project disagree. They said adding features such as more crosswalks and sidewalks will make getting around easier for everyone. “This tragedy just underscores how important it is that we improve the safety in the corridor,” Blakespear said.

Streetscape has an estimated cost of $30 million and has been in the planning stages for more than a decade.

Mayor Blakespear and those who hold Roberta Walker in high regard said there are no good reasons for any more delays. “We need to do more to get this project off the ground right away,” the mayor said.

Blakespear said she would ask City Council at its next meeting to put the project on the fast track.

Categories: Local San Diego News, Traffic & Accidents