Let's Pluck Some Low Hanging Fruit on Kearny Villa Road and 33rd Street: Ask for Better Bike Facilities

San Diego's Department of Transportation has embarked on a project to coordinate with the city’s fast moving overlay and slurry seal program to implement bike facilities by either enhancing the existing facilities or implementing them where they don't exist per the city's Bicycle Master Plan. Brian Genovese referred to this initiative as low hanging fruit because implementing this striping would take no additional effort or money but impart a tremendous benefit to the community.

Two roads that have been resurfaced and are awaiting striping are Kearny Villa Road in Councilmember Lorie Zapf's District and 33rd Street in Council President Todd Gloria's District. This is a perfect opportunity to enhance any existing bicycle facility or implement one where it doesn't currently exist.

A section of Kearny Villa Road today.

Kearny Villa Road

As a major north/south connector, Kearny Villa Road needs lots of improvements. Our supporters who submitted comments to our collaborative vision map wants the entire road to be made safe especially the I-15/SR-163 interchange which needs to be redesigned to be safer for all users. This street has been home to some passive aggressive paving work in the past and the bike lane on Kearny Villa Road was finally repaved to decent standards about two and a half years ago. It was the first road to receive (some somewhat random) green paint work.

However, Kearny Villa Road has been resurfaced again and there is an opportunity to improve it even more. Reader Dave Abeln sent in an email stating the following:

Good news - The city has resurfaced much of Kearny Villa Road between the 52 and Miramar Road, on both the northbound and southbound sides.
Bad News - The temporary lane markers, which ultimately guide the laying of new stripes, leaves the bike lanes too narrow. Many sections are significantly narrower than prior to resurfacing.

This major north-south cycling corridor has sufficient pavement to provide well defined and sufficiently wide bicycle paths. It's simply a matter of proper execution.

Please work with your city street department contacts to address this concern, now, before the new lanes are painted.

Please call Councilmember Zapf's office at (619) 236-6616 and ask that her office works with City staff to make Kearny Villa Road better than it currently is.

33rd Street
Rosemary Bystrak sent in the following:

33rd just got paved from Howard to Monroe, and Meade is on it's way. Turn up the heat to get bike lanes/tracks/sharrows before the striping! I'll be calling Dion Aker at Todd Gloria's office tomorrow. Maybe he can help?

For the residents who live along 33rd street, we're sure they'd prefer to not have drivers treating their neighborhood street like a racetrack - so an opportunity to narrow the existing travel lane exists right now. We think a bike lane with a painted buffer would a pretty nice feature.

Please call Council President Gloria's office at (619) 236-6633 and ask that his office work with City Staff to make 33rd Street more bike friendly while there is an opportunity.

Kearny Villa Bike Lane (finally) paved

The horrid state Kearny Villa Road's bike lanes has taken the lives of two bicyclists and endangered countless others. This is a road that runs parallel to the 163 freeway and has a posted speed limit of 65 mph, and is the only north/south route for many of the city's cyclists wanting to reach the northern limits of the city.

After numerous complaints were phoned in and emailed, the city finally decided to "fix" the hazardous cracks in the bike lane in a rather passive aggressive manner earlier this year in March.

Kearny Villa Road lies in City Council Member Marti Emerald's district. After months of going back and forth with the city's traffic and engineering department, and Marti Emerald's office on the dangerous condition of the road, the city finally informed us of their decision to repave the bike lanes on Kearny Villa Road in June.

Yesterday, Jim Gates, a Bike San Diego reader, informed us that the bike lanes were indeed getting repaved.

Below are photos showing the progress to date:

The state of Kearny Villa Road for years. Photo © Robert Leone
The state of Kearny Villa Road after the fix in March 2010. Photo © Juan Magdaraog
Kearny Villa Road today. Photo © Jim Gates
Kearny Villa Road today. Photo © Jim Gates

Kearny Villa Road - After the Fix

We last wrote about how sad Kearny Villa Road was for San Diegan cyclists. Shortly afterward, the city did perform repairs on the hazardous cracks on the road as promised.

One of our twitter followers @juanrcm regularly rides Kearny Villa Road. He informed us of the terrible job that the city had done in fixing Kearny Villa Road and took photos showing those fixes:

Kearny Villa Road after the fix. Photo by Juan Roman Magdaraog
Kearny Villa Road after the fix. Photo © Juan Magdaraog
Kearny Villa Road after the fix. Photo by Juan Roman Magdaraog
Kearny Villa Road after the fix. Photo © Juan Magdaraog
Kearny Villa Road after the fix. Photo by Juan Roman Magdaraog
Kearny Villa Road after the fix. Photo © Juan Magdaraog

SignOnSanDiego.com had an updated story on the patchwork done on Kearny Villa Road.

We contacted the Chief of Staff for City Councilmember Marti Emerald asking that the bike lanes be repaved as they were still dangerous for cyclists.

An entire week has gone by and Marti Emerald's office has been silent in responding.

While we continue to wait, be careful when riding on Kearny Villa Road.

The sad state of Kearny Villa Road

Kearny Villa Road. Photo by Robert Leone
Kearny Villa Road. Photo by Robert Leone

Recently, the Union Tribune reported on how dangerous the conditions are on Kearny Villa Road for cyclists. This is not news. In 2001, Larry Mahr was a victim of a fatal collision and, in 2005, Captain Patrick M. Klokow was fatally struck - a victim of a hit and run - all on Kearny Villa Road.

The dismal conditions of the bike lanes along Kearny Villa Road is not the sole culprit. Despite running parallel to the 163 freeway, the speed limit on Kearny Villa Road is 65 mph with drivers frequently going above that speed limit on a regular basis.

Nearly ten years after Mahr's death, Kearny Villa Road is still in shambles. There has been no traffic calming measures installed and the facilities for cyclists is dismal at best.

Cyclists who ride Kearny Villa Road have complained to city officials for years to no avail.

Kearny Vila Road lies in District 7 which is under Councilwoman Marti Emerald's control. We contacted Councilwoman Emerald's Chief of Staff, Xema Jacobson [XJacobson@sandiego.gov] who responded by stating that the problem had been forwarded to San Diego's staff to their traffic engineering department.

According to Kathy Keehan, Executive Director for the San Diego Bicycle Coalition, the city expects the city's contractors to repave some sections of the bike lanes in six weeks. Despite San Diego's deficit, lack of funding is not the issue as money has been allocated toward fixing the bike lanes along Kearny Villa Road.

Kearny Villa Road. Photo by Robert Leone
Kearny Villa Road. Photo by Robert Leone

Meanwhile, this is the current state of Kearny Villa Road as it stands. We'll check back in six weeks and report back on what changes have been made.