A Ride with Candidates in District 2

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.