by Julie Thunder
*Updated 7-6-20: 16th accident happened over the weekend. The cyclist was rear-ended by a car while southbound near Seaside Reef. The driver did not stop, he kept driving with the bike stuck under the car. Ambulance and Sheriff called. Full details on the Facebook page here.
Encinitas installed a new bike lane, called a ‘cycle track’, on each side of S. Coast Highway 101, between Solana Beach and Cardiff. These are dedicated bikes-only lanes that have segmented curbs on each side with green bollards in between the segments. The curbs have been involved in each of the listed accidents, creating injuries that range from serious (requiring an ambulance) to not so serious (scrapes and bruises).
In addition to the two bike lanes, the City made the right-hand car lane in each direction a sharrow, meaning that cars and bikes each have the full right of way. The addition of the sharrows was decided during the City Council meeting held last October. Dozens of cyclists attended the meeting at City Hall and warned the Mayor and Councilmembers that the segmented curbs would cause accidents. In an unusual move. Mayor Blakespear and Traffic Engineer Abraham Bandegan changed the designed plan during the meeting, adding the sharrows to accommodate the faster cyclists.
The bike accidents started happening immediately after the curbs were installed, which has created the nickname, “cycle trap”. All accidents have involved the segmented curbs, which create an obstacle to a bike making a quick correction.
Another problem area that confuses both cars and bike riders is the often congested northbound approach to Chesterfield Drive in Cardiff. The cars have to cross over the cycle track to make a right hand turn onto Chesterfield.
The video below shows northbound traffic as it approaches Chesterfield Dr. in Cardiff. The bikes have to switch sides with cars in a confusing layout:
Soon after the accidents began, avid cyclist, Serge Issakov, started a Facebook page titled, “Encinitas: Please Restore Safe Cycling In Cardiff”, which quickly grew to almost 900 members. This group began documenting the accidents right away. According to witnesses who commented on this page, one of the earlier accidents involved a head injury, another a broken pelvis, and at least three of the below-listed accidents required an ambulance.
Abe Bandegan joined Issakov’s Facebook page soon after the accidents started. He had several dialogues with road cyclists and casual bike riders about how to make it safer. As a result, extra signage was installed, reflectors and white stripes were added to the curbs, and flashing temporary instructional signs were placed at both ends.
But accidents continued to happen, although at a lesser rate. Some cyclists suggested that the extra ‘road furniture’, a term that refers to the bollards, curbs, and signs, created more distractions and extra confusion.
List of accidents as noted on “Encinitas: Please Restore Safe Cycling In Cardiff” Facebook page:
Wed 4/22: crash reported on Strava by JK, southbound at “jog”.
Sun 4/26 5:30 am: Cyclist northbound at south end near bottom of descent out of Solana Beach. Details in SB Group per KR.
Sun 4/26 10:30am: Northbound about same location as 5:30 am crash. Witnessed by JC.
Mon 4/27: “Family of children”. Mentioned in comment by JW in Swamis Group.
Wed 4/29: reported by JT in Encinitas Votes. Cyclist southbound hits wheel stop at “the jog”. Broken pelvis confirmed by TB, friend of victim. Top photo is of this crash.
Wed 4/29: crash victim BC: “I was riding south, just south of Las Olas, and hit a berm. I was lucky in that I didn’t sustain any serious bodily injury, there was a deputy sheriff there who witnessed it, and wrote up a report. I contacted the city of Encinitas who gave me the phone number of the contractor. I called him and he said he’d reimburse me for my destroyed sunglasses and helmet… I’ll take my chances with disgruntled drivers, but the bike lane is more dangerous, even now that the berms have been painted. It’s apparent that whoever designed this has never ridden a bike.”
Sun 5/3: 10-year-old boy in bikeway is cut-off by another cyclist, swerves to avoid a pedestrian, and hits wheel stop which throws him into traffic lane. From the boy’s father: “FYI, be careful while riding your bikes (or jogging) on Hwy 101 in the renovated bike lanes. The city just installed intermittent curbs …but they are already proving to be very hazardous. My 10-year-old was riding just behind me heading south on the bridge that spans the inlet at Cardiff Reef when someone cut him off and he swerved to avoid crashing into a jogger and his front wheel hit the curb. I heard the crash and a terrified “Dad!!”, when I turned around to see my son, 20 feet behind me, laying in the middle of driving lane #1 (closest to the bike lane). A civilian thankfully jumped into street to steer traffic away, and luckily there were no oncoming cars at that moment, otherwise, this would likely be a much different post…which is what I’m hoping to avoid for myself and others. My son is doing fine save being scared to death, bumping his head, chipping his helmet, and skinning his knee. However, there were two passersby (as well as the attending state park trooper that provided first aid) that all unsolicitedly mentioned how poorly designed and dangerous the new curbs are. Again, these curbs are brand new and were being installed on the long open beach stretch heading south (after the Chart House) just two days ago when we were out on another ride.”
Sun 5/3: reported by RL: Another child hit wheel stop and crashed. “Sunday I had a young boy try to ride through the berms Southbound to avoid walkers. He crashed and took the guy behind him down. We were able to stop in time. This traffic solution is a mess and someone will surely get killed before it is a month old!” “I’m pretty sure it was a different incident. The kid was alone and didn’t end up out into the traffic lane.”
Wed 5/13: Witnessed by JC. Documented in Strava. Injuries apparently not serious. Details coming.
Tue 5/26: Husband of BB. Southbound just after Chesterfield. Experienced cyclist LB apparently hit wheel stops when trying to avoid pedestrians in confusing situation. Aided by surfers. Fractures.
Wed 5/27: Boyfriend of JP witnessed bike vs pedestrian with surfboard crash aftermath scene. Both males. Northbound side approaching Chesterfield.
Wed 6/3: Reported by BC… “On Wednesday I was riding south on the 101, actually in the bike lane and not in the sharrows, just for kicks. A runner was also in the bike lane (we were still in the section with the pedestrian walkway). This runner decided to cross the road (not at a crosswalk), and tripped over one of the “safety” curbs.” “Danger! It’s not just for cyclists anymore.”
Thur 6/4: Reported 7am by BJ at Encinitas Votes: “Just saw a biker down on coast highway surrounded by his bike buddies. Just passed the ambulance on the way. Also “northbound just south of Kraken”.
Tue, 6/9/20, 10:35am: Medical emergency reported by EM: “guy on an electric unicycle [one wheel skate board] hit one of the barriers, crashed and husband called 911 who said if he didn’t have to go to the hospital they wouldn’t do anything. A Sheriff gave the guy a ride to the house place he was staying. He was shamed up and bloody”.
Wed 6/24/2020: From the victim: “I was riding [southbound in front of Pacific Coast Grill at 2526 S Coast Highway] behind a friend & slightly to her left while I was talking to her. She exited off the main road onto the bike path. I followed her. The next thing I knew, the pole was in front of me & I knew I was going to hit it. I have attached a photo. I have been outright in saying that my attention was not what it should be. However, people have said to me: “yes, but you did not expect a pole to be there!” Injuries: Minor (road-rash on right knee & right elbow, bruised right hip).