Police Seek Hit and Run Driver Who Left Bicyclist Critically Injured in Ocean Beach

i Oct 20th No Comments by

katie connerThe family of Katie Conner is pleading for a hit-and-run driver to come forward after Conner was struck on October 12th, critically injured, and left for dead on the side of the road at the intersection of Sunset Cliffs Boulevard and West Point Loma Boulevard in Ocean Beach.

Katie’s injuries were severe, having suffered serious head trauma. Katie has thankfully survived after multiple surgeries but she is still in the Intensive Care Unit. Of her surgeries, Katie has had doctors operate on her brain and perform a tracheotomy. Katie’s parents have flown in from Baltimore to help care for her.

San Diego Police say a driver in a white pickup truck with a camper shell failed to stop after running Katie over Sunday October 12th as Katie rode her bicycle home.

While the family hopes the driver will ultimately be held accountable, what they want most is for Katie to fully recover.

Katie had recently moved to California and was excited to join our growing bike movement and had found a cause to support with Team Cretins AIDS/LifeCycle, a bicycling group that plans to ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise funds to help bring an end to AIDS and raise awareness towards HIV prevention.

Katie’s recovery will be a long one and there will be extraordinary expenses exceeding health insurance and family resources according to a fundraising page Katie’s family has set up  to help assist the family and Katie’s during this difficult time. A fundraiser is also scheduled for November 1 at the Ocean Beach Pizza Port where 20 percent of Pizza Port’s profits that day will be donated to help Katie’s family.

San Diego police say the incident is under investigation but have not released any further information. If you know anything, please contact the San Diego Police Department at (619) 531-2000 or (858) 484-3154.

Earlier this year California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed three bills that would have improved safety for people riding bicycles and other road users. Governor Brown vetoed these bills in the final hours before the deadline of the legislative session. These bills all passed the legislature unanimously or with few no votes. Two of the bills would have increased penalties for convictions and one would have made it easier to catch hit-and-run drivers. The California Bicycle Coalition’s Capitol Year in Review explains the governors veto reasons and the reluctance of the legislature to override gubernatorial vetoes.

Team Cretins early this morning updated Katie’s status in a Facebook post stating:

“After being struck down in a hit-and-run accident and spending the last 7 days in the ICU undergoing several surgeries and procedures, we have good news! This morning Katie opened her eyes and followed commands! She gave her family a huge thumbs up when asked! She also followed the sound of her Mothers voice and looked towards her! The family is very grateful for everyone’s positive thoughts and prayers. Keep it up:) and Go Katie Go!”

Again if you have any information please contact San Diego Police. Our sympathy and hopes for a speedy recovery are with Katie and her Family.

Update: The U-T has a writeup about the crash.

Channel 10: Driver who struck and injured cyclists has a criminal history

i Aug 13th 4 Comments by

Cyclists injured by drunk driver on Fiesta Island. Photo: Joel Price

Yesterday evening, a group of cyclists riding on the popular Fiesta Island, were struck by a drunk driver who was driving the wrong way. Thankfully, no one was killed.

KTLA describes Fiesta Island as follows:

Fiesta Island Road is one-way throughout the island, which is a park within Mission Bay. It is regarded by cyclists as an especially safe place to ride.

Yesterday, in the one safe haven for cycling in San Diego, people were seriously hurt.

Channel 10’s Melissa Meckjia has uncovered that the driver, Theresa Owens, has both a criminal history and a history of driving under the influence (DUIs). Owens is currently behind bars. Bail is set at $100,000.

A local cyclist and attorney, Mike Bomberger, stated that the victims were unlikely to recoupe medical costs from the driver,

“I’m fairly pessimistic that she has insurance,” he said. “A lot of the people that I spoke to that were on the scene, said it looked like the driver lived out of her car. Even if people have uninsured motorists coverage, they often times don’t carry enough.”

This was our statement we released to Channel 10

The driver who drove the wrong way on Fiesta Island needs to be charged and the incident fully investigated. The driver has to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, given that she was behind the wheel despite having multiple DUIs. The SDPD is undergoing a severe crisis of leadership right now and this is a terrific opportunity for them to demonstrate that their promise to serve and protect also extends to people who ride bicycles. Drinking and driving should be penalized and drivers who are inebriated should not be permitted to get behind the wheel of a machine that can hurt or kill.”

Not unlike Marjie Barnes-Grant, the cyclists injured last night are unlikely to see justice.

It’s time for the San Diego Police Department and our local government to step up and do its job.  DUI enforcement efforts have to be increased and penalties have to match the damage that a motor vehicle causes on society. A privilege to drive granted by a drivers license isn’t a right to drive, especially when a massive and callous disregard for human life is shown.

Update 8/14/2014:Re: Fiesta Island crash. Spoke to SDPD, they intend to recommend prosecution to fullest extent of law. Case will be submitted to District Attorney’s Office in three days

San Diego City Council Adopts City’s First Bicycle Advisory Committee

i Jul 31st 4 Comments by

Earlier this week, on Tuesday, San Diego’s City Council unanimously approved the creation of the city’s first Bicycle Advisory Committee. This was a goal that was originally proposed in the 2002 city adopted bike plan, the city’s second plan to accommodate bicycling.

City Bicycle Advisory Committee, first proposed and adopted in 2002 bike plan. Finally created in 2014.

Getting this committee established was one of our goals for our second year of existence (we launched as an organization in 2012). The composition of the committee calls for each Councilmember adopting one appointee and the two appointees made by the Mayor. Districts 4, 6, and 7 do not have a representative yet, so if you live in these neighborhoods now would be a nice time to get to know your elected representatives at City Council.

The current members of this new advisory committee include the following:

  • Petr Krysl, involved with bicycling planning in UCSD where he is also a professor, representing District 1
  • Nicole Burgess, who has been asking for improvements on Nimitz for as long as this website has been in existence, representing District 2
  • Kathleen Keehan, former executive director of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition from 1999 to 2011, representing District 5
  • Randy Van Vleck, Active Transportation Manager at the City Heights Community Development Corporation, representing District 9
  • Andrew Hanshaw, current executive director of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition and founder of Bike the Bay, representing District 3
  • Kyle Heiskala, who led a successful student fee referendum at UCSD for bus and light rail access representing District 3
  • and myself, Samantha Ollinger, representing District 8.

If you’re not sure what all the District numbers mean, here is a link to a neat map that visually shows the entire city and its council districts.

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Steven Greenwald speaking about “designated bike lanes” and bike trains on Tuesday. Screenshot from City Council webcast

At the Council session on Tuesday, the item to approve the committee was scheduled to be on the consent agenda (essentially voted on without any discussion), however frequent Council Chambers visitor and occasional mayoral candidate, Steven Greenwald, asked for the item to taken out of consent and open for discussion. He was the only member of the public who spoke about the item and he spoke in support of it. He voiced support for “designated bike lanes” and asked that the city look to Vancouver for inspiration. He also talked up bike trains, which Nicole Burgess has been leading in Ocean Beach, and Veronica and Sandra have been leading in Mid-City. Greenwald also mentioned that not all drivers were “sensitive to the fact that bicycles have a place in transportation”.

All councilmembers provided positive comments.

Marti Emerald (District 9) stated that perhaps even she could one day be on a bicycle, but that she was “petrified” to ride in traffic today.

Mark Kersey (District 5) thanked Kathy Keehan for her willingness to serve.

Sherri Lightner (District 1) thanked Petr Krysl for his willingness to serve.

Lorie Zapf (District 6 and soon to be District 2) thanked the entire group of committee members and recalled her experience of riding with Burgess and spoke about the needed changes to accommodate the upcoming bike share program as well and changes at Nimitz Boulevard and where the I-8 meets the dog park.

David Alvarez (District 8)  spoke about the Climate Action Plan and commended the current District 2 staff that ride to their jobs at City Hall.

Ed Harris (interim Councilmember in District 2) seemed a bit surprised that the issue of bicycling had made a dent at City Hall and made generally positive comments as well.

Scott Sherman (District 7) spoke about the positive effects of seeing more people on bicycles.

Todd Gloria (District 3) stated that this was simply a formalization of the work that all of us had done to date. He also mentioned that the work done in the city to date were “modest” but wanted to see work sped up. Gloria also mentioned that the bike share program was scheduled to launch on October 30th this year. Gloria emphasized that this committee would be working with city staff to advise them on the work that needed to be done.

Emerald made a  motion to approve the creation of the Bicycle Advisory Committee and newly re-elected Councilmember of District 2 (to be seated in November) Lorie Zapf seconded the motion.

Morena Boulevard Station Study calls for improvements along Morena Boulevard

i Apr 30th No Comments by
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The Morena Boulevard project area highlighted in yellow. Source

The Mid-Coast Light Rail Trolley is one of the transit projects proposed by SANDAG in their 2050 Regional Transportation Plan and is currently going through the planning and design phase:

The Mid-Coast Corridor Transit Project will extend Trolley service from Santa Fe Depot in Downtown San Diego to the University City community, serving major activity centers such as Old Town, the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and Westfield UTC.

The project proposes station stops at Tecolote Road, Clairemont Drive, Balboa Avenue, Nobel Drive, Pepper Canyon, Voight Drive, Executive Drive, and Terminus Station.

The Morena Boulevard Station Study covered the area that would include the stops at Tecolote Road (in the Linda Vista community) and Clairemont Drive (in the Clairemont community).

Included within the project’s study scope was recommendations to improve mobility: bicycling and walking and removing focus from designing only for cars and instead designing for people.

The mobility/transportation components broke Morena Boulevard into four segments: South Morena Boulevard, Tecolote Bridge, North Morena Boulevard, and Clairemont Bridge.

Image via SANDAG

One day, San Diegans will get to ride a trolley from Old Town to UCSD. Image via SANDAG

The year long community outreach process resulted in three alternatives which included good design proposals for safe and comfortable bicycling, Much thanks go out to our members Michael Muhammad (who until late last year served on the Clairemont Planning Group prior to moving to Long Beach, CA) and Kelly Cummings both of whom were instrumental in being a voice for safe and well designed bicycle facilities along Morena Boulevard as part of this process.

Below are the alternatives proposed for South Morena Boulevard. The alternatives were labelled: moderate, conservative, and aggressive.

Here is what South Morena looks like today:

South Morena Boulevard today. Very car friendly and very people unfriendly.

South Morena Boulevard today. Very car friendly and very people unfriendly.

This was a design proposed for safe bicycling on South Morena in the future.

Design proposal for Morena Blvd by KTU&A

Design proposal for Morena Blvd by KTU&A

Today Tecolote Bridge looks like this:

Tecolote Bridge today

Tecolote Bridge today

In the future, Tecolote Bridge could look like this:

Proposed design for Tecolote

Proposed design for Tecolote Bridge. Source: Morena Boulevard Station Study.

Today North Morena Boulevard looks like this:

North Morena Boulevard today.

North Morena Boulevard today. Two vehicle lanes in each direction, substandard bike lane, parking on one side and no street trees

In the future, North Morena could like this:

Proposed deisn for NOrth Morena

Proposed design for North Morena

Today Clairemont Drive at Morena Boulevard has a lot of challenges as noted in the proposed plan:

The recommended solution for the Clairemont bridge crossing plan must address the existing issues that make it difficult for pedestrians and cyclists to mix with vehicles on the freeway overpass. The proposed solutions strive to improve the overpasses by providing facilities that buffer and protect pedestrians and cyclists while maintaining efficient vehicular traffic flow. Additional improvements are also included at the East Mission Bay Drive intersection with Clairemont Drive to provide better connections to the existing trail system around East Mission Bay.

If the design solution for the centerlane cycletrack sounds a little familiar, it is not unlike what was proposed here for Balboa Avenue by Michael Sullivan.

In the future, the Clairemont Bridge could look like any one of these solutions:

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Proposed design for Clairemont Bridge

In addition to the bike improvements to improve mobility, the focus of the study was also around increasing population density along the transit corridors. This has resulted in some vocal opposition, the subject for a future post.

A Ride with Candidates in District 2

i Apr 18th 3 Comments by

By BikeSD Board Member Nicole Burgess

I want to send many thanks to both Sarah Boot and Council Member Lorie Zapf for taking the time to experience a ride through District 2 with BikeSD. Both women listened and experienced our concerns for safety and the need for many improvements.

Last fall, BikeSD member Michael Muhammed and I escorted Sarah Boot by bike through many areas of District 2, including the busy intersection of Nimitz Blvd and Sunset Cliffs Blvd. Thank you, Sarah, for being brave and taking the challenge of cycling through this busy area of high vehicle traffic.

This past month, board member Austin Graves and I escorted Lorie Zapf and staff Kelly Batten along Morena Blvd to the Nimitz intersection. Although we did not take on the challenge of cycling this area, we were able to observe the difficulties and discuss the challenges to cyclists and pedestrians.

Both of the rides took the candidates throughout the many different types of bike facilities:

  • Class 1 – a protected bike path along the San Diego River Trail
  • Class 2 – bike lanes (some that included green paint or buffered bike lanes) and
  • Class 3 – signage for a suggested bike route but no actual paint markings or sense of comfort.

It was clearly evident that our comfort level was affected as we traveled between the different types of facilities. It was also troublesome to note that many of the inconsistent bike lanes are due to Caltrans’ lack of facility improvements.

Here is a great example of the transitions between facilities that were experienced during the ride with Lorie Zapf. After enjoying a very comfortable class 1 protected bike path along the San Diego River Trail, heading north on South Morena Blvd. through freeway interchanges that have no bike facilities was unnerving. At one point, Lorie asked if we could ride on the sidewalk through that section due to her fear. I encouraged her to stay confident and go with the flow of traffic as there are no curb ramps for these sidewalks. After we traveled through this area we reached the improved lanes of buffered bike lanes and green paint. At the traffic light, we discussed how our experience changed when we entered the improved section. We were so relieved. We went from being totally scared and stressed to relaxed and comfortable! The relaxing experience was thanks to simple paint and our city staff Brian Genovese, who led installation efforts. But as previously noted, Caltrans is not doing their part to provide safe facilities in their right-of-way, which is the main reason we are lacking continuous bike facilities in these dangerous areas. I hope Council Member Zapf will take initiative to work with Caltrans to improve these high-conflict areas near freeway interchanges.

The vision of Nimitz Blvd as a Neighborhood Greenway from I-8 to Harbor Drive is a priority for Bike Walk San Diego District 2 (formerly known as the District 2 Pedestrian Bike Advisory Committee). There is great potential and much community support to provide a protected bike facility connecting the San Diego River Trail to the class 1 bike path along Harbor Drive. Since a section of Nimitz Blvd will be resurfaced in the next few months, we hope that these women can influence Caltrans to improve the facilities near the dangerous I-8 intersection so that riders will not be left to defend themselves through the absence of bike lanes. New paint will help with these efforts but grade separation is truly what is needed. Nimitz Blvd is one of SANDAG’s Early Action Projects and we hope that our future council member will be able to support and expedite this project as an important corridor for the city. As Supervisor Ron Roberts stated in support, “Nimitz Boulevard is a community asset that connects schools, parks, beaches, bays, military installations, trails, recreational activities, and much more. This highly anticipated revision of Nimitz Boulevard would create a safe connection that is needed in this community. By providing more transportation options, it also will enhance regional connectivity.” Supervisor Greg Cox stated, “The creation of a class-1 bicycling facility along Nimitz Boulevard will not only provide an aesthetically pleasing greenway through the Point Loma community, it will ensure that our children and residents using the route and are able to safely transport themselves along a very busy corridor.” We look forward to continued support for the Nimitz corridor to become a reality.

I believe the rides were a great experience for both candidates and they each understand the need for better bike infrastructure in District 2 and throughout the city. Thank you again to Council Member Lorie Zapf, Kelly Batten, Sarah Boot and BikeSD members Michael and Austin for taking the time to discuss the need for better bike facilities in District 2.