Downtown Mobility Plan – Member Point of View
By: Jordan Kohl, BikeSD Member
The San Diego City Council will soon be voting on the Downtown Mobility Plan, which outlines a network of protected bike lanes, pedestrian greenways, curb bulb-outs, road diets, and more. The benefits of this plan are numerous: reduced green house gas emissions, reduced congestion, reduced demand for parking, and increased mobility options for everyone. However the greatest benefit to me is that it will make downtown San Diego a safe place for my daughter to ride her bike.
Just a few years ago I was a complete car fanatic. In a span of five years I owned four different sports cars. Then I got married, had a daughter, turned thirty, and spent six months making a soul-crushing commute from Oceanside to Newport Beach. I was inspired to make a drastic change.
With my mind in that malleable state, I was ripe for the influence of Jane Jacobs, Charles Montgomery, Donald Shoup, and Jeff Speck. I learned about induced demand, the benefits of density, and finally started paying attention to climate change. I learned about Portland and Copenhagen and how bicycling can be made safe with the right infrastructure. From Strong Towns and Andres Duany I learned how suburban sprawl is financially and environmentally unsustainable, isolating, and keeping our children dependent on us for transportation. I want something better for my daughter. During my childhood, I gained vital confidence and independence from walking and biking home from school, by myself. I also learned to appreciate nature, neighbors, and the environment around me; all of which are nearly impossible to enjoy at 40+ MPH in the backseat of an SUV.
After living in a string of suburban homes, my wife and I downsized to one car and traded our fenced yard for a downtown condo. We want to walk to parks, restaurants, and schools. After the DMP passes (hopefully), we’ll also feel safe biking to Balboa Park, the library, and everything else that downtown San Diego and it’s adjacent neighborhoods have to offer.
I’m just as excited for the improvements bike lanes will bring to pedestrians. The streets of downtown are unnecessarily wide, encouraging drivers to speed. By narrowing or replacing traffic lanes with a bike lane and pushing parking away from the sidewalk, it’s going to have a calming affect on traffic and shorten the distance pedestrians have to cross the street.
Safer, calmer streets will attract people, putting more “eyes upon the street”. People already flock to Little Italy for their inviting sidewalks, storefronts, plazas, and markets. This is why the Little Italy Association is willing to close several blocks to cars (including parking) on a weekly basis for the farmer’s market and soon permanently for Piazza Famiglia. Despite my idealogical differences with the LIA, they do an amazing job keeping the streets clean and preserving the character of the neighborhood. Which is why I’m so disappointed by their unwillingness to allow bike lanes through the neighborhood, instead choosing to support street parking over the safety of their residents.
Ultimately, I think the Downtown Mobility Plan will make downtown San Diego a safer and friendlier place for everyone, regardless of their chosen mode of transportation. I have dreams of fearlessly sending my daughter off to school, on her bicycle, to enjoy the neighborhood under her own pedal power.
Ride and Rally to Help Pass the Downtown Mobility Plan
BikeSD encourages you to support this game changing plan for improve bicycling in downtown San Diego! Meet up at the new Horton Plaza Park at 12:30pm on June 21, 2016. We will have a pre ride rally and then ride through downtown before arriving at City Council for 2pm meeting.