Speak up for Trails, Walking and Biking Now

From the Rails-to-Trails Conservacy:

On Tuesday, September 15, Senators John McCain (Ariz.) and Tom Coburn (Okla.) issued two amendments to the FY10 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill. If passed, these amendments would eliminate the majority of available federal funds for trails, walking and bicycling.

Amendment 2370 would prohibit the use of federal funds for pedestrian or bicycle facilities, efforts to reduce vehicle collisions with wildlife, or other specified Transportation Enhancement (TE) projects if the Highway Trust Fund cannot cover unfunded highway authorizations.

Amendment 2371 would allow states to eliminate spending on TE, the nation’s largest funding source for trails, walking and bicycling. Congress currently sets aside a portion of federal funds for TE to support these projects in all states.

Providing opportunities for Americans to walk, bike and take transit to get where they’re going improves our communities’ health and livability, reduces emissions, creates jobs and save money.

California's Senators are Barbara Boxer (202-224-3553) and Diane Feinstein (202-224-3841)

Please call your senators with the following message:

I am calling from San Diego, California to urge that Senator ______ vote against Amendments 2370 and 2371 to H.R. 3288. These amendments would jeopardize essential Transportation Enhancements projects such as trails and other walking and bicycling infrastructure. These projects are highly valued in my community, and we need more safe and convenient opportunities to walk and bike. How does Senator _____ plan to vote on these amendments?

It is best to use your own words. If you personalize your comments, please be sure to end your call by asking how the senator plans to vote. This is critical information for us to have, and puts the office on notice that they will be accountable.

Once you have made your calls, please tell us how they went (below) so we can track progress and plan next steps. Thank you.

Contributions from BikeSD Readers

Larry Hogue sent us this story from Biking in LA on Bicycle Courtesy. With the increasing numbers of newish bicycle riders hitting the streets, it is important that riders behave in a manner that is polite and considerate to all users on the road. This is the underlying assumption with San Diego's latest campaign.


From our flickr pool, a contribution from Protorio and another from Larry on what can be carried in a bicycle pannier:

Beer in Pannier
Beer in Pannier. Photo by Protorio
Dog in Pannier. Photo by Larry Hogue
Dog in Pannier. Photo by Larry Hogue

A Smarter City: San Diego

The National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) reviewed cities across the nation and named 15 "Smarter Cities" in small, medium, and large city categories. They looked at the following criteria:

  • air quality
  • green building
  • standard of living
  • environmental standards and participation
  • transportation
  • recycling
  • green space
  • energy production and conservation
  • water quality

The mission in creating this list was to "foster a little friendly competition … as well as provide a forum for exploring the progress American cities are making in environmental stewardship and sustainable growth."The cities were then given scores based on a specific set of criteria.

San Diego was listed at #11. San Diego scored low on air quality, energy production and conservation, and standard of living beating New York City listed at #12.

Below is an excerpt on how San Diego is attempting in turning itself a Smarter City:

A major component of the city's smart growth strategy is the redevelopment of downtown San Diego, which is served extensively by transit and since 1975 has seen nearly $438 million of new public infrastructure and 14,800 new homes (2,650 of which are price-restricted). In 2008, the city incorporated the City of Villages smart-growth strategy into its updated General Plan to increase density near transit centers and to preserve open spaces. Although the Pilot Village program—an attempt to create sustainable communities linked by transit within the city—has been met with funding and organizational challenges, the program is continuing and has shown two successful examples of infill development: the Village Center at Euclid and Market, which is at the intersection of four neighborhoods and on a trolley and transit station, and the North Park Pilot Village, a revival of a historic section of downtown with high-frequency bus transit.

While the Village Center at Euclid and Market is accessible by public transit, it is located on an island of its own. There isn't much mixed use development between the Village Center and the downtown Gaslamp district. The housing development located near the center is incomplete giving the entire area a somewhat desolate appearance. The focal point at the Center is the automobile with much space devoted to a gigantic parking lot.

Rather than using smart growth strategies to create urban oases that aren't well connected, perhaps the city could create these oases more organically, encouraging mixed use development in all corridors that connect these smart growth centers. Perhaps our officials need a copy of Jane Jacobs' The Life and Death of Great American Cities in order to undersand and appreciate what exactly makes a city really smart.

Bicycle Commuting in San Diego

The last American Community Survey relating to commutes in the U.S. was released in 2007. The percentage of San Diegans that commuted by bicycle to work was 0.6% or 3,602 riders. The margin of error was +/- 920. This was an increase from 0.48% in 2003.

While the increase is encouraging, the percentage of people who do commute by bicycle is still pitiful. So perhaps it would be useful to provide some resources on how to commute by bicycle.

Paul Dorn's Bike Commute Tips blog is a very helpful blog that discusses all concerns about commuting by bicycle. In San Diego, we don't have to worry about commuting in the snow or even in the rain, but other concerns that are faced by many first-time commuters are addressed. Bike Whenever is another useful resource that has every imaginable sort of information, from picking a bicycle to riding it everywhere.

Maybe when the next issue of the American Community Survey comes around, San Diego's bicycle commuter numbers could be enviable.

Can San Diego grab Portland's Economic Dividend?

Tom Scott, Executive Director of the San Diego Housing Federation, sent us this story on Portland's Economic Dividend. The story focuses on a study done by economist Joe Cortright on how Portland's environmentally friendly policies have paid off in a big way.

Cortright estimates that the miles not traveled by an automobile result in an out-of-pocket savings of $1.1 billion dollars per year for Portlanders. Portland's land use patterns and commitment to environmentally sound policies have not only attracted new residents to the region but also businesses, thus multiplying the economic benefit that many cities struggle to attain.

If the city of San Diego took some lessons from Portland and pushed to create more infrastructure catering to bicyclists and pedestrians and public transit users, would there be a need to even hunt for parking structures in the city?

As we've mentioned in the past, San Diego has the most perfect weather all year round. Weather that  cities like Portland and even Amsterdam envy. This weather makes it absolutely perfect to ride a bicycle every single day. So San Diego, what's keeping you off a bicycle?