e-bike header graphic

Finding the joys of riding a bike at age 54

Jasmine Greene on Bike

Jasmine Greene is an amazing kindergarten teacher at Ocean Beach Elementary that all my kids were lucky enough to have as their teacher 15 years ago.  After years of not seeing her as much, our lives have come back together as she has found the joys of riding a bike in San Diego.  Here is her story of why she started riding and how she has become a new fan of the bike and all the benefits it offers.

When and why did you start biking in 2020?

For the past year on most weekends two of my good friends, Anna and Leanne, and I had taken on the 52 Hike Challenge. When the trails closed due to COVID, Anna suggested biking instead. I didn’t own a bike and had not been on one for 30 years, so I was a bit nervous about it. We met in University Heights and took our first ride to Seaport Village in April 2020. From that day on I was hooked. I discovered the joy of bike riding at age 54!

Where do you currently ride and where is your favorite place to ride in San Diego?

I ride from Kensington to Ocean Beach to get to work, twice a week. I sometimes do this with Leanne, but am also comfortable riding on my own now. The one hour ride to and from work is the perfect way to begin and end each day. It clears my head and exercises my body. After riding I feel like I’ve had some time for myself, and am more focused and relaxed. It is something I want to do more often.

My favorite rides are along the coast with friends. Any destination ride is fun to me. I am now ready to tackle any hill! Slow and steady wins the race.

Did you think it was possible to commute by bike from your house to your work?

Never in a million years would I have thought it was possible for me to ride a bike from Kensington to Ocean Beach. First of all, it just seemed too far and complicated with all the neighborhoods to go through. I had no knowledge of any of the biking routes and the hills seemed ominous.

What are some of your favorite things about riding a bike?

Taking off on the bike feels so freeing. I love the idea of using my own body to move through time and space. I’m out there alone in the world and yet right smack in the middle of it all. I see so much more than I do driving my car. I have run into many friends along the way. While on my bike I get the enjoyment of seeing lots of dogs, ducks, birds, and even flying fish! I notice what is happening in  neighborhoods more intimately; I see store fronts, people exercising and life happening all around me. There is a great feeling of simply being alive and in the midst of it all.  Biking has become a type of mediation for me.

What have you learned about your neighborhood, and our city, while riding a bike?

I had no idea there were so many bike routes. I still feel like a novice in this area. I am unsure of how to get from one place to another by bike in San Diego. This is an area I still struggle with.

Biking has made me very aware of the gravity of San Diego’s homeless population and how far-reaching the issue is. Cyclists are much more confronted with this up close than motorists.

I have had one minor accident and it woke me up a lot. I’m much more cautious now. One of the biggest challenges are the potholes and road conditions. I ride up Presidio Park to get home from work and the side of the road is full of potholes. The road itself is very narrow, without a dedicated bike lane, so that is always a challenge.

Cars are another major concern. I am fully aware of the fact that in a crash they will win. I am very cognizant of cars while riding, but I can’t always be sure that drivers notice me.

Riding on Adams Avenue and University Avenue regularly, the hazards include people in parked cars opening their doors, cars pulling out abruptly or making illegal u-turns. The buses are sometimes unsettling too.

As your experiences evolve you as a new rider, how do you envision your riding to be different in 2021?

While I love my hand-me-down bike, I have decided to upgrade and am having a custom bike built with Velofix. This is a local company and one I know I can trust. Having a bike that fits me well is something I am looking forward to. I now consider bike riding a part of my weekly routine. Interestingly, I find myself craving it. I will look for more opportunities to ride socially in 2021.

Do you have any big requests for our new Mayor to make your riding more comfortable and to encourage others to give it a try?

Help drivers become more aware of bicyclists’ rights. Improve biking infrastructure by creating more designated bike paths so that commuting is safer and viable. Please fix the potholes and other road hazards such as open grates, especially in bike lanes. Increase police presence on more isolated bike paths, such as the Flood Control Channel and the San Diego River Trail.

What would you say to someone that is interested but concerned to ride a bike?

The most important thing is to be aware of your surroundings. Start by riding with a friend or a group. Learn how to use your gears! Join BIKE SD to track your miles and hear from other cyclists. Give biking a try. I have always been a very active person: running, swimming, hiking, and practicing yoga. Biking was never part of my activity list. It didn’t speak to me until I gave it a try. Then it shouted out loud and clear!

Riding partners Anna and Leanne enjoying San Diego by bike with Jasmine.  
Riding partners Anna and Leanne enjoying San Diego by bike with Jasmine.

 


Mobility Board Votes to Support Gilman Drive Segment of Coastal Rail Trail

The City of San Diego Mobility Board voted to approve the Gilman Drive Segment of the Coastal Rail Trail. The Coastal Rail Trail will connect Oceanside to Downtown San Diego, and the Gilman Drive section will more immediately connect UC San Diego to the almost completed Rose Creek Bike Path (which is being built by SANDAG as part of the Early Action program). The project will be implemented as a protected cycletrack (class IV) on both sides of the road from the I-5 interchange to La Jolla Village Drive. A dedicated bike traffic light and signal phase will also be added southbound at the entrance to I-5.  Additionally, the gaps in the sidewalk on the west side of Gilman Drive will be filled in and a sidewalk will be added underneath the interchange with La Jolla Village Drive (where many students who live nearby have already created desire paths and are forced to play frogger with cars).

Cross-section Rendering of one segment of the Gilman Drive Portion of the Coastal Rail Trail

BikeSD is glad to see a protected cycletrack implemented. Not only is the current unprotected bike lane very narrow immediately north of the I-5 freeway interchange, it is made narrower by overgrown shrubbery from the canyon to the east. Combined with the curvature of the road as well as a 50mph speed limit, Gilman Drive as-is is a collision in the making. According to data from the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), there have been 11 reported bike rider collisions along the portion of Gilman Drive that will be renovated, from 2009 to 2019. Of course, many collisions also go unreported.

 

Map of Bicycle Collisions from 2009-2019 along Gilman Drive

That being said, BikeSD has some reservations about the project. The project's estimated cost, $22 milion, is astronomical, and is due to the insistence of maintaining 12 foot travel lanes & a 50mph speed limit and adjacent street parking, as well as building retaining walls and working with sensitive lands. A much more affordable tactical project could have been completed with a road diet, particularly considering the lack of congestion on Gilman Drive, little parking demand south of Via Alicante, and the opening of the Mid-Coast Trolley Extension of the MTS Blue Line, which will reduce road demand even further.

 

Despite our reservations, this will be an important connection that will encourage even more San Diegans who are "interested but concerned" about biking to ditch their cars and help San Diego reach its Climate Action Plan goals of getting 18% of commuters to go by bike.  While the project is still only partially funded, construction is anticipated to begin in Fall 2021. You can see the Mobility Board's discussion of this agenda item and the presentation by city staff via this link: Youtube


See what its like to ride the notorious Washington Street uphill

 

BikeSD Advocates Ride Washington Street, not for fun

After a 65 year old cyclist was killed in a hit and run accident, BikeSD has been working to address Uptown bicycle route safety and get a previously deleted bike lane restored.  In the first few seconds of this video its easy to see how the dangerous design of this roadway resulted in death.  Our team had a few close calls themselves.

The current Class III painted “sharrows” in the second eastbound travel lane are not recommended by the State of California for speed limits above 35 MPH. However the posted speed limit is 45 MPH, and in the video cars can be seen travelling 55 MPH or more, with some motorists even exceeding 70 MPH.   Forcing bicyclists into dangerous, high-speed traffic on a steep incline like this is a recipe for disaster. The City is also not notifying motorists that the road contains a bike lane, as the signage that was posted on the hillside has been removed, and the street cycling symbol on the road has been painted over. Along with being a designated ‘Bike Route’, Washington Street is the main connector to the Washington Street Trolley Station for residents of Mission Hills, Hillcrest and Bankers Hill.

We sent a letter to the Mayor asking the city to immediately address public safety hazards on the Uptown bicycle route at eastbound Washington Street and return the Class II bicycle facility on the south side of the road. We will continue to ask that the City prioritize residents’ lives and well-being over a dozen free parking spaces.

Help us restore the Washington Street bike lane until the completion of the SANDAG Washington Street Bikeway in this area. Contact your councilmember or the mayor’s office and tell them to restore the bike lane on Washington Street.

SEE THE LETTER HERE


BikeSD-Vote Election Endorsements 2020

Did you know that BikeSD is also 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization?

This means that along with advocating for safer streets we can also engage with electoral politics. We are working not just to improve policymakers decisions about transportation in our city, but to improve who those policymakers are.

It’s vital to our mission that we elect officials who share with our supporters across the county our agenda of advocating for equitable, inclusive, and prosperous communities where bicycling helps to enable all San Diegans to lead healthy and joyful lives.

Please visit BikeSD-Vote.org to see the endorsements for the November 3rd, 2020 election.

#BikeTheVoteSD

 


2020 San Diego County Supervisor District 3 - Terra Lawson Remer


Terra Lawson Remer

Candidate: Terra Lawson Remer

 

1) What are your top 3 priorities for improving the biking experience in District 3 for residents and families?

I believe that San Diego County as a whole needs to expand and improve our sustainable transit options, ranging from walking and biking to public transit. Making our communities more bikeable primary boils down to improving our default street design, prioritizing separated bike lanes, and creating a real network of bike lanes. Our roads were structured almost exclusively for cars for decades and only recently have started to take into account the much wider range of transit options we need to support. A key element to this is making bike lanes that provide real safety to occupants, such as by separation from traffic by bollards, parking spaces, or green medians. To make these safe lanes functional, we also need to ensure that they form an integrated network (not just isolated chunks) and enable riders to safely and speedily get to work, school, recreation, and other destinations.

 

2) SANDAG just presented its vision for San Diego’s transportation future in 5 Big Moves. Do you support 5 Big Moves and how did you come to this conclusion?

I am broadly supportive of the 5 Big Moves, and think that this regional conversation is long overdue. I believe we need a holistic approach that will protect the environment, support sustainable communities, and get people where they need to go in a timely fashion. That will require support for public transit, roads, and alternative transit options- not one or the other. We cannot have a one size fits all approach because our region is diverse, and the vision largely recognizes that. I am committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making the investments to improve our quality of life.

 

3) As county supervisor, you may have the opportunity to serve on the boards of MTS or SANDAG. (How) would you advocate for SANDAG’s bicycle early action program, which has experienced significant delays? Would you support MTS ballot measures that include funding for bicycle infrastructure?

San Diego is a fantastic place to live, in part because it is already well-suited to biking (no snowstorms!). But we need to invest in improving our roads and bike lanes to make them safe and accessible for everyone. I support SANDAG’s bicycle early action program and would advocate for it on the County Board and at SANDAG. I cannot commit to supporting any ballot measure without seeing the specifics, but I am broadly supportive of investing in our bicycle infrastructure, such as a network of separated bike lanes on major thoroughfares.

 

4) Please share a memorable experience(s) you have of bicycling.

My passion for biking really began while I was attending law school at NYU. One year, I decided to bike from lower Manhattan to Mount Vernon (New York, not Virginia) to see my grandparents for Passover. While Google maps indicates this would take about two hours, the lack of bike paths, clear signage, and safe freeway crossings meant that my route was perilous and required walking my bike through and across dirt lanes and freeway overpasses more than once. I somehow got stuck in a marsh, after passing through Harlem and the Bronx and getting stranded on the wrong side of the Hudson River. It took four hours not two, and I arrived sweaty and exhausted for Passover Seder. But it was an adventure to remember and I developed a much better appreciation of the vital importance of adequate bike infrastructure!