San Diego County

Encinitas Bike Riders Get Free Safety Gear Ahead of Bike to Work Day

Cyclists and drivers in Encinitas should be able to see each other a lot better. With the help of tax dollars, dozens of bike safety lights were handed out at the Leucadia Farmers Market on Sunday. While it may seem like a small improvement, it’s helping a lot of families feel safer.

“You’re supposed to leave a 3-feet distance between a bike and a car. And a lot of cars don’t do that. I’m really surprised, even with kids on the back,” said Sonja Billes, an Encinitas resident.

Billes regularly rides her electric bike to the farmers market with her 18-month-old, and four-year-old son. They both ride on the back of her bike. She has plenty of safety equipment on her bike, but she’s still concerned about being seen by drivers.

“You have to be visible. It’s not fair to the cars if they can’t see you,” said Billes.

The advocacy group, Rider Safety Visibility (RSV), handed out free bike lights at the farmers market in hopes of encouraging more people to ride.

“We hear that a lot of people want to increase their opportunity to be seen, and to be safe. The common thread is that cyclists can be held accountable,” said Ed Clancy, co-founder of RSV.

Along with free bike lights, RSV had an informational booth at the farmers market to encourage safer riding and increased visibility. The hope is that if people feel safer, they’ll ride to work more, especially ahead of Bike to Work Day.

“I think I’m ready to hit the road and see how far I can go with it,” said Mackenzie Mee-Lee, an attendee at the farmers market.

Mee-Lee is excited to try her new safety equipment. Without protected bike lanes, she understands riders have extra safety factors to worry about.

“There’s a lot of accidents that happen and a lot of it comes from people wearing black clothes, or they don’t have lights,” said Mee-Lee.

The San Diego Association of Government (SANDAG) has allocated millions of dollars for bike infrastructure projects throughout the San Diego County, but many of the improvements will not be finished for years. In the meantime, cyclists are trying to take the rights steps to keep their families safe.

The bike light and safety program in Encinitas is funded by a $3,000 grant from SANDAG. They will be back at the Leucadia Farmers Market on June 2.

Bike to Work Day in San Diego County is on Thursday, May 16.

For more information, visit the ICommute website

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