ENCINITAS, Calif. — In North County, e-bike safety is now top of mind for leaders in Encinitas. A meeting prioritizing the matter took place Wednesday with the city’s Youth Commission and Traffic Safety Commission.
The meeting comes after a 15-year-old teen died in an e-bike accident back in June, prompting the city to declare a local emergency. There was also another e-bike death last year in Carlsbad when a mother died while riding with her daughter.
The Emergency Declaration in Encinitas gave the Sheriff’s Department authority to offer more safety education for e-bike riders if they receive a citation. Since then, the city has issued over 600 motor citations and 66 bike citations.
The city has also partnered with the San Diego Bicycle Coalition to offer free training and e-bike safety sessions. There have also been proposals at the state level to require licenses for riders.
“I just completely cut off a driver, they had to lay on the horn, and I was very close to getting hit,” shared one Encinitas teen with the Youth Commission when vying for more and improved education.
His story was just one of many shared along with an urgent message for solution Wednesday night.
This comes just a few months after young Brodee Champlain Kingman died in an e-bike accident on El Camino Real. After the incident, some pointed to poor city infrastructure and distracted driving as the cause.
“We just don’t want to take another fatality to wake up all the other cities,” shared Vickie Magione, a parent to Encinitas teen Logan Brown who uses his e-bike to commute to school each day.
Concerned residents are now working together with council with some calling for speed reductions, more education, and others calling for improvements to the bikes themselves.
“Bikes need to have mirrors. There are so many problems when bikes don’t have mirrors. Kids will throttle and look back, and then they crash,” said one concerned resident.
One of the proposed solutions called for sharrows, narrow travel lanes, and more bike lanes across the city.
As of right now, there is a requirement of safety classes and permits for kids to bike to school for both Encinitas Unified School District and the neighboring Carlsbad Unified School District.
“Many cars just expect us to know what to do. They’ve all taken their drivers test, they have licenses. We’re stuck on a bike and expected to know what to do,” shared Brown.
Another solution the city is proposing is to create a “Two-Stage Left Turn Box,” which would allow bikers to make a left turn without crossing several lanes of moving traffic.
“It takes a village, and we all need to have compassion and patienc and understanding that these are kids,” said Magione.
So far, the city has worked to increase public awareness with 300-yard signs and CMS boards, a new safety and mobility webpage, along with an engineering evaluation of city infrastructure.
In the future, they plan to add additional web content, educational program offerings, and potential capital projects.