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CARLSBAD, Calif. — The Carlsbad City Council voted unanimously to ratify the city’s emergency declaration, announced one week ago, in response to traffic safety concerns following two deadly crashes involving bikes and electric bikes.

The vote also comes after a 233% increase in crashes involving bikes and e-bikes since 2019.

The City Council approved $2 million in funding for immediate traffic safety efforts, which can immediately be spent on the following:

  • Increasing traffic enforcement by the Police Department
  • Buying more message boards and speed feedback signs
  • A new traffic safety training program offered by the city
  • A safe driving and riding education program
  • Projects to change the striping on roads to allow more space for bikes and increasing the visibility of bike lanes and crosswalks

One of the deadly crashes in August involved Carlsbad mother Christine Hawk Embree, who was riding an e-bike with her 16-month-old daughter Delilah, when a vehicle and the e-bike collided. Christine died from her injuries, leaving behind her husband, Bob Embree, and their daughter, Delilah, who was not hurt in the crash. Police have not released specifics on the crash.

Bob Embree and his parents, along with residents in Carlsbad have spoken out at city council meetings to address speeding drivers and the need for safer roadways.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, Bob spoke in favor of the declaration.

“I want no one to suffer the way I am, I couldn’t imagine if I lost my daughter too, so if we could slow traffic down when kids are going up and down the street that would be great,” Bob Embree said.

City Manager Scott Chadwick believes bikes and e-bikes are not the problem.

“Everyone shares in the responsibility of safer streets,” Chadwick said.

According to the council meeting, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration released estimates for the first quarter of 2022, “which showed the highest number of fatalities from motor vehicle crashes in 20 years.”

City of Carlsbad Police Chief Mickey Williams said he has redeployed additional officers to traffic enforcement, especially around schools. In the seven days after the emergency proclamation, the department issued about four times as many written warnings and citations than they would do in a typical week.

The written warnings and citations were issued to people on the following modes of transportation:

  • 57% cars
  • 35% e-bikes
  • 8% pedal bikes
  • 1 pedestrian

Since the declaration, Carlsbad leaders placed 11 electronic message boards at locations with higher crash rates.

On Tuesday, an additional 11 green bike lanes were painted. The city says more are planned as well.

“Cities can proclaim a local emergency when there is an imminent threat to public safety,” a press release from Carlsbad City Council read Tuesday night. “The combination of increasing collisions involving bikes and e-bikes and thousands of kids returning to school compelled the City Manager to make the proclamation Aug. 23.”

Carlsbad City Council has to review the emergency declaration at least every 60 days.

City leaders plan to present additional actions to address traffic safety to Carlsbad City Council on Sept. 27.