Interior photo of Hillcrest Mission Hills Public Library

Wednesday, March 13 - Learn Bike and Pedestrian Advocacy Skills

Interior photo of Hillcrest Mission Hills Public LibrarySpeak Up: Learn Bicycle and Pedestrian Advocacy Skills
Anyone interested in learning how to speak during comments at City Council and working in tandem with the BikeSD Advocacy Team please join us for our monthly advocacy trainings. Our Advocacy Team influences decision making, resource allocation, and implementation of bicycle friendly projects and policies. Learn what a speaker slip is and how to complete it. Learn how to time your speaking for speaking at the podium at City Council meetings. Practice making a public comment. Meet other advocates. Make change happen.

 

Event Details

Date: Wednesday, March 13

Time: 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Location: Mission Hills/Hillcrest Public Library
Community Room
215 W. Washington St.
San Diego, CA 92103
- Google Map link

map of Mission Hills/Hillcrest library


Normal Street Promenade before and after photo. Left side shows University at Normal St as currently configured in 2018. On the left, a rendering in 2016 of the promenade.

Normal Street Promenade Workshop Seeks Biker Input on January 24

Normal Street Promenade before and after
The image at right is a 2016 artist's rendering by KTU+A of a potential configuration of a new Normal Street. It isn't the current design under consideration but merely a sketch.

 

Hillcrest could have a new urban park-like ‘promenade' by the year 2020, if Councilmember Chris Ward’s plan for the Normal Street Promenade meet with success. The Normal Street Promendade (2016 sketches shown above) will piggyback onto SANDAG's Eastern Hillcrest Bikeway Project (Phase 2) through this corridor in order to take advantage of the street redesign SANDAG will do for the bike lanes. BikeSD has offered qualified support for this new Normal Street pedestrian and biking promenade — but we want all BikeSD members to come to the community meetings where the fate of the Promenade and its SANDAG bikeways will be determined.

The Promenade project is on a relatively quick timeline, faster than most City projects of this nature. There will be two community input “workshops” held on Tuesdays, January 24 and February 19, 2019, at Joyce Beers Hall (3700 Vermont St). These workshops will be followed by a vote at the March 5 Uptown Planners board meeting. In addition, the Normal St. Promenade project is being accelerated by Chris Ward’s office by asking San Diego Dept. of Street Design engineers to be attend both the workshops. The hope is that this will reduce the ‘friction’ that SANDAG infrastructure projects usually encounter at San Diego’s DSD when the city’s engineers don’t understand changes to street design.

One concern for Uptown bike advocates is the additional delay to the Eastern Hillcrest Bikeway Phase 2 (EHB) created by allowing time for a new Promenade design. As BikeSD board member Jeff Kucharski (@JeffKucharski_) noted, SANDAG is already pushing back the expected completion date for EHB by 3-6 months to accommodate this new Normal Street Promenade design. Jeff also notes that nominal support from Hillcrest organizations like Hillcrest Business Association can turn into dismantling of bike lanes. “In 2015, HBA publicly advocated for 'Transform Hillcrest' while privately gutting the University Ave bike lanes. It's easy to see a similar scenario happening here when the Promenade hits headwinds,” he said.

It’s critical that BikeSD's biking, scooter, and mobility advocates attend the workshops and Uptown board meeting to make sure the proposed 2-way cycle track and other enhancements remain the centerpiece of the new design. And to press both SANDAG and CM Ward’s office to ensure that the Eastern Hillcrest Bikeways are not excessively delayed in the process of designing this Promenade. The January 24 and February 19 community workshops also offer an opportunity for BikeSD members to also speak up for mid-speed infrastructure within the Hillcrest community, so we’ll be sending out notices to BikeSD members with details about the workshop next month.


Add yourself to the BikeSD mailing list. To get updates on Uptown bikeway projects like the Normal Street Promenade above, check the box for "Uptown" on our sign-up form here: https://bikesd.org/add-mailing-list/


Cover slide of the Gilman Drive road diet presentation, November 2018, by Judi Tentor

Is it time to ditch the phrase "Road Diet"?

A four-lane road, Gilman Drive in La Jolla near the Univ. of California San Diego (UCSD), recently had new sewer lines installed. A stretch of this newly-repaved road was three weeks away from getting re-striped when BikeSD mobilized to have the speed limit reduced and buffered bike lanes added.

BikeSD had tentative support for this change of striping from staff at UCSD. But after BikeSD's executive director presented plans for a road diet to the local community advisory group, UCSD was upset. They felt BikeSD had pulled a fast one on them by switching from a “re-striping” to a “road diet.” They weren't sure they could or would support a "road diet" on Gilman Drive.

UCSD's reaction isn't surprising to road safety advocates. Very often, when average people — car drivers — hear the phrase "road diet," they have negative reactions. The word "diet" means reducing and restricting. A traditional diet may reduce carbs; a road diet reduces cars. A traditional diet may squeeze down your waistline; a road diet squeezes the room around your car.

While notions like reducing cars and squeezing the roadway appeal to bike and safety advocates, these phrases have no positive connotation to people on a community boards, traffic engineers, or average folks who depend on driving. Simply put: when advocates use the phrase "road diet" we conjure up the wrong imagery in the ears of our listeners.

On top of that, everyone knows: "Diets don't work."

So maybe it's time to ditch the phrase "road diet." And time to ditch the phrase "traffic calming" as well. ("Traffic calming" sounds like a plan to have drivers just settle in and wait out the slow snarl of traffic while meditating. No driver wants to hear about how a street design will slow down, calm, or involve "traffic.")

It's time to adopt better phrasing for this important work.

I'd like to propose a new framework and term: M.O.S.T.

Mobility-
Oriented
Safety
Treatment

We all want to get the MOST out of our roadways.

Just about every element of a road diet is also a treatment to expand the use and users of a road. A roundabout reduces the need for stop signs, allowing better flow through intersections for both cars and bicycles. Buffered mid-speed lanes (aka bike lanes) increase the capacity of a street by accommodating bikes, scooters, and congestion-reducing methods of getting down the street. Bulbouts and curb ramps make traveling on foot or by wheelchair more pleasant and safe, thereby increasing the likelihood for walking (fewer cars), reducing the need for paratransit vehicles (fewer vans), shortening pedestrian crossing times for people at intersections, etc.

Almost every road diet element is also safety-enhancing step. The problem is that the phrase "road diet" fails to capture any notion of increasing safety. 'Diet' inherently sounds like less rather than more. In reality, we're talking about enhancements, not reductions.

MOST is about getting the most out of our road space. MOST street design focuses on maximizing the number of ways people can use a street. Roads which get the MOST design are safer than traditional road layouts. More importantly, a MOST street serves the greatest amount of people -- not just one type of user (typically cars). When we pitch to audiences about bringing the MOST to a street design, we're talking about expanding the road to its greatest, safest capacity.

MOST, as a phrase and a framework, reminds everyone (car drivers, walkers, folks, bikers, scooter users, the disabled, parents with strollers...) that we share a common goal: getting the most value from our shared street space. Who wouldn't want the MOST for their roads?


Monroe Bikeway San Diego

SANDAG Monroe Bikeway Held Hostage by Kensington Talmadge Planning Group, Residents

Last week the Kensinton Talamadge Planning Group (Ken-Tal) received an update on the Monroe Bikeway segment of the North Park-Mid City Bikeways from SANDAG (San Diego Association of Governments) staff member Danny Veeh. The Monroe Bikeway is one of the last planned segments of the still-unconstructed North Park Mid City bikeways, and is a 1.3 mile bicycle boulevard connecting from Copley Price YMCA to Collwood Blvd in the College Area:  

Monroe Bikeway San Diego

Before summarizing the events of the meeting (hint: it didn’t go well), let’s go over the history of bike lane projects in the Talmadge area:

andrew bowen

So after multiple years of Monroe Bikeway planning, traffic studies, traffic modeling, presentations to planning groups/planning group subcommittees/maintenance assessment districts/community councils, modifications to those presentations, more modifications to those presentations, and votes against other bikeways because of Monroe Bikeway—what did Ken-Tal planning group do? They prepared to vote against the Monroe Bikeway.

Monroe Bikeway San Diego

The overriding issue that long predates this project is auto congestion on Monroe during rush hour. While Ken-Tal and the City have implemented many attempts to address this issue, the entire community has never been satisfied. The city tried stop signs in 2013, left turn restrictions from 47th to Monroe in 2015, and Ken-Tal floated closing 47th at Monroe and a traffic island that restricted turns. Ken-Tal has also voted to widen El Cajon Boulevard at Fairmont, directly contradicting the city’s safety efforts on this deadly street for pedestrians. These actions have exposed a bitter community divide over a basic equity issue: Should auto access to one of the most heavily-used two-lane roads in the city be limited to wealthier north Talmadge residents, or do lower income residents in south Talmadge and City Heights have a right to this public road too? The City of San Diego answered this question by instructing SANDAG to design the bikeway without altering access to Monroe from 47th.

Despite Ken-Tal chair Don Taylor’s reminders that congestion issues are well beyond the scope and budget of the bikeway, Talmadge residents and board members continue to hold the Monroe Bikeway project hostage over this neighborhood dispute. In 2017, SANDAG staff was prepared to move the project forward for environmental clearance but delayed the project for 1 year to appease Ken-Tal’s concerns. As Ken-Tal requested, a HAWK beacon was replaced with a bicycle only left turn pocket in the most recent design. Despite this concession, many board members still refused to support the project. Remarkably, former Ken-Tal chair David Moty removed his support as a result of this concession.  

When community members oppose a project for reasons that directly contradict each other, how is SANDAG ever expected to achieve the elusive “consensus” required for bike lane projects that is not required for freeway widenings and road expansions? This is the main reason why nearly every SANDAG bike lane project is behind schedule: attempting to appease armchair engineer residents who write 62-page manifestos demanding the city subsidize his lack of off-street parking, or Ken-Tal board members who attack the Monroe Bikeway for failing to improve safety—while offering no viable alternative. A Talmadge attorney even insisted the California Environmental Quality Act prohibits the bike lane—despite the governor signing two laws that prevent this environmental policy from being perverted to kill bike lanes.

Meanwhile, here’s fomer Ken-Tal chair Moty in 2015, offering full support for the Monroe Bikeway: “SANDAG staff are faced with challenges enough elsewhere, we should not create challenges for them here where overall community support is strong. The KTPG does not believe this is the city’s intent, and hopes the city will give its full support to SANDAG’s plan and remove any roadblocks to its implementation.”  

As Ken-Tal prepared to vote “no” on the Bikeway (with chair Taylor, Transportation Subcommittee chair Sean Harrison and Deborah Sharpe the only apparent “yes” votes), District 9 City Councilmember Georgette Gomez asked the board to postpone their vote. Gomez was present for the full 2 hours of contentious debate about the Bikeway and does not support 24-hour left turn restrictions onto Aldine from Monroe. She promised to take the feedback from the community planned to work with SANDAG and City of San Diego staff. Councilmember Gomez has been vocal supporter of active transportation in her role on SANDAG’s Transportation Committee and BikeSD is hopeful her leadership will result in a high-quality Monroe Bikeway.

Yet so far Ken-Tal’s efforts to delay the Monroe Bikeway have been successful. As we’ve seen with the Uptown Bikeway and in communities across the country, this is a proven model to continually delay and water down bike lanes, until eventually killing them. If San Diego is going to implement any of SANDAG’s bicycle projects, city leaders must not give into “advisory” planning groups, who actually hold a powerful veto over bike infrastructure. Further, Ken-Tal’s long history of placing its own interests over the larger Mid-City community (attempting to move planned retail away from El Cajon Boulevard; voting to worsen pedestrian safety on ECB) is another reason why planning groups should be consolidated—at a minimum.

For supporters of the bikeway, the next big timeline will be a CEQA exemption hearing. Prior to the recent Ken-Tal planning meeting, SANDAG planned for a September hearing. Any delay will add to concerning pattern of City of San Diego and SANDAG tolerating delays to SANDAG’s early action bicycle plan.  


Bike box on University Ave, San Diego CA

Bike Infrastructure Explained: Bike Box

Bike box
Bike box University Ave and 6th Ave

This post is the first in a series of posts that will explain and illustrate bicycle infrastructure designs. These are the designs we want to see on our streets. These are designs that provide solutions for rider safety and comfort. All of the infrastructure featured is from the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide which “is based on the experience of the best cycling cities in the world.” And here at BikeSD we want San Diego to be one of the best cycling cities in the world! So let’s start with BIKE BOX.

What is a bike box? If you google bike box, you will see a shipping box, but that is not what we are talking about. A bike box is a designated area (generally painted green) at the head of a traffic lane at a signalized intersection (an intersection with a stop light or traffic light.) It provides bicyclists with a safe and visible way to get ahead of a line of traffic during the red signal phase (when the light is red.) Nearly all the benefits of a bike box are related to increased safety for riders. But, there are some benefits to motorized vehicles that come from using bike boxes.

Bike Box Benefits

A bike box increases VISIBILITY of people riding bicycles. There are things that riders do to make themselves visible such as wearing bright clothing and using flashing lights. Being visible is key to bicycling safety. A bike box on the street helps bicycles be more visible at intersections. The bright green painted box highlights a location and motorists can expect to see someone on a bicycle in that location.

A bike box decreases the chance of a RIGHT HOOK which is a leading cause of both car vs bicycle and car vs pedestrian crashes. A right hook dangerous crash that involves a vehicle turning right into the path of a pedestrian or a bicycle going straight. Bike boxes can help prevent this kind of crash because the bicycle rider is positioned at the front of motor vehicles at the intersection.

A bike box provides PRIORITY for bicyclists at signalized intersections of major streets. Groups of bicyclists together can clear an intersection quickly, minimizing impediment to transit or other traffic. This priority has benefits for motorized vehicles because the people on bicycles in the bike box clear the intersection more quickly than a line of bicycles so right turning traffic moves through the intersection more quickly.

Bike Boxes in San Diego

Bike box in Hillcrest showing car encroaching
Bike box in Hillcrest

The intersection of University Ave and 6th Ave in Hillcrest has a bike box as part of the recently painted bike lanes. Cars are supposed to stop at the edge of the box, but have not yet learned how to use the infrastructure. Some bike boxes have WAIT HERE painted at the limit line of the box.

The new infrastructure on University Ave helps with comfort and safety. It is not perfect, but it is a start.