Aldine and Monroe intersection thumbnail

Monroe Bikeway: A Bikeway on Paper Only

Aldine and Monroe intersection

Back in July 2018, we knew the five year old planning effort behind the Monroe bikeway was in trouble. The Kensington-Talmadge community planning group (Ken-Tal) declined to vote on the latest version but they clearly resisted improvements to this corridor. Both Kensington-Talmadge and BikeSD were told that San Diego traffic engineers would study possible solutions to keep traffic on El Cajon Boulevard. It’s unclear if those studies were ever completed. BikeSD warned that Ken-Tal would not allow any solution that allowed for safer conditions on a route connecting Mid-City and San Diego State University area.

On a Friday afternoon, February 21, 2019, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) announced they were abandoning the current Monroe Bikeway effort.

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Monroe Avenue was identified as a primary bicycle route in both the current Mid-City and College Area community plans. In SANDAG’s alignment analysis in 2014, Monroe was selected for its lower level of stress for bicyclists and its lower cost compared to a cycle track on El Cajon Blvd. At the time, BikeSD and others advocated for cycle tracks on El Cajon Blvd. However, SANDAG and City of San Diego choose to pursue the Monroe segment to connect North Park/Mid-City areas to the neighborhoods around San Diego State University.

sandag bike plan MidCity
SANDAG Bike Plan Map showing Monroe bikeway (magenta colored line).


Most of the controversy about the planned bikeway is about the 0.1 mile section of Monroe Ave. from Aldine intersection to 47th street. While this section suffers from high automobile volume, is it really worth abandoning the remaining 1.2 miles of bikeway improvements?

Monroe Ave map

In the past five years, many designs for the intersection of Aldine and Monroe have been proposed but according to SANDAG emails, yet no design was “feasible” to meet of all the constraints imposed from various interested parties. The lack of consensus around a solution doomed the project.

Currently, westbound Monroe and Aldine is a tricky intersection. Aldine Drive is a one of three entry ramps that connect to the Interstate 8 freeway. Area residents also have Fairmount to the west and Collwood to the east, both higher capacity entry points than Aldine Drive. Cyclists traversing this corridor have few choices: dangerous El Cajon Boulevard to the south, or detouring very far south to Orange. Westbound bicyclists on Monroe currently have no legal route to continue on westward besides using the sidewalk.

SANDAG designed multiple concepts to allow Monroe to serve as an east-west bicycle boulevard:

1)  Two-way cycletrack on south side of Monroe: (Potential designs here and here.)  The possibility had support from some Ken-Tal planning group members who supported trying to prevent left turns from 47th St onto Monroe. However, City of San Diego instructed SANDAG that it would not support any modifications of 47th St. This prevented the design from further evaluation including solving potential challenges of narrow road width. This design was abandoned in 2015.

2)  HAWK signal:  In 2016 and 2017, SANDAG presented a HAWK signal to allow bicyclists (and pedestrians) to cross the intersection when a bicyclist triggers the HAWK. The Ken-Tal planning group asked for the HAWK removed in 2017.  District 9 Councilmember Georgette Gómez’s office did not support the HAWK either. Both CM Gómez and Ken-Tal CPG were concerned about vehicle delay caused by the HAWK. It’s important to note that SANDAG presented traffic studies in 2017 that showed minimal delay (~2 sec). In 2018, it SANDAG presented different traffic model data but that model did not include analysis that included HAWK signal.

3)  Bike left turn pocket:  This design was SANDAG’s first concept design introduced in 2014. It’s simply a left turn pocket for bicycles only. It legalizes an action that some cyclists already make to continue westward on Monroe.  This protected pocket would make it feel safer. It was reintroduced after the HAWK signal was removed from consideration upon Ken-Tal CPG request in 2017. However, City of San Diego traffic engineers rejected this concept in fall of 2018 due to limited sightlines and high traffic volumes. Considering neither sightline nor traffic have changed since 2014, why did City of San Diego engineers not relay their concerns about a bike turn pocket prior to 2018?  The lack of communication between City of San Diego and SANDAG is a common theme throughout SANDAGs early action bike program.

4) Bike left turn pocket + 1/2 HAWK signal: An innovative solution proposed by SANDAG combining the turn protection of left turn pocket with HAWK beacon to stop southbound traffic and allow a safe crossing for cyclists. This solution would alleviate any fears about a HAWK signal effects on vehicle delay for Northbound morning commute. It also addressed the concerns of City of San Diego traffic engineers about sightlines. City of San Diego traffic engineers rejected this option.

47th Street detour suggested by Howard Blackson
Credit: Howard Blackson

5 )  Meade Ave detour: BikeSD member Howard Blackson had another a suggestion: Why not avoid the tricky Aldine/Monroe intersection with a detour onto Meade Ave for a block  (0.4 mile total detour)?  The design would have to overcome the current one-way street design of Meade St  for this block. Again, this was concept was rejected because City of San Diego would not allow any modifications to 47th St and Monroe intersection. SANDAG’s preferred solution would require some intersection modification to allow westbound cyclists turn safely southbound onto 47th St. (Update: this solution may be back in play.)




Can a future planning grant solve the problem?  

The money designated for design phase of the Monroe Bikeway has been exhausted according to SANDAG. In the recent email blast, SANDAG and City of San Diego promised to search for future planning grant opportunities to find a alternative alignment.

Unfortunately, we have recent experience with a mobility planning grant in this exact neighborhood. The City of San Diego received a planning grant to improve mobility for pedestrians and cyclists along the section of El Cajon Blvd parallel to the planned Monroe Bikeway. Again the Ken-Tal planning group led the charge to have bicycle improvements removed from the plan. At the time (2016), Ken-Tal CPG members told KPBS that they supported bicycle routes on side streets, including Monroe but opposed them on El Cajon Boulevard. The Monroe bikeway suffered not because of a lack of funding but a unwillingness to prioritize bicyclists safety.

Until your favorite SANDAG bike project is in construction, everyone should be nervous of a Friday email that announces your neighborhood bike project no longer exists.

Ocean Beach route on Strava

BikeSD Biking Around Town - Sunset Cliffs

San Diego is a beautiful place to live and there are many great places to go for a bicycle ride.  I often ride with my kids and have used an excellent Burley trailer for the past few years but they are getting to large for that so I recently purchased a Taglong attachment for my bike to allow my young kids to bike with me.

A Tagalong basically turns a regular bicycle into a tandem bicycle for one adult and one child.  The kids have loved being able to peddle when we bike together, and they can see much more since they're sitting up higher.  Here's a photo of what the Tagalong looks like hooked up to my bicycle in front of the Ocean Beach Pier.

I've mostly been biking around my neighborhood in North Park with the kids but had been wanting to go somewhere more scenic and with a longer route to enjoy.  Since we often visit the beach in Ocean Beach it seemed like Sunset Cliffs would be a great choice - mostly flat, great views, and easy to bike to from the Ocean Beach Pier.

We headed south from the Pier and meandered along Ocean Front Street which is an alley-like street that weaves along the coast and then jumped onto Sunset Cliffs Boulevard at Point Loma Avenue, which is where the Sunset Cliffs Coastal Trail starts.  We continued on Sunset Cliffs to where it ends at Ladera Street and then returned on the same route.  Along the way I stopped to take a few photos to give a sense of the route and views.

Sunset Cliffs is very popular for biking, walking, and jogging.  Due to erosion of the cliffs there is not a consistent running path or bicycle path - there are some portions that have a dedicated space and others that do not.  It would be great to see a wider running and bicycle path in this area, perhaps a future improvement that would be well used given the popularity of the area.

I recorded our ride on my phone using the Strava app and you can join BikeSD members and supporters on Strava to share routes and connect with others.  Join us at:

Below is an image of our route and some statistics from Strava, a total of 4.82 miles we rode in 28 minutes.  If you're looking for a fun, relaxed ride with awesome views check out Sunset Cliffs sometime.  And enjoy your ride!


Join Us This Saturday (2/17) for a Bayshore Bikeway Group Ride and Ribbon Cutting!

This Saturday, 2/17, BikeSD will be joining SANDAG, elected leaders, and the public to celebrate the opening of an improved section of the Bayshore Bikeway in National City.  It's great to see another portion of the Bayshore Bikeway get upgraded and we look forward to the completion of the full Bikeway, which was started in the 1970s.  BikeSD will be present and sharing a table with our friends from the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition.  We'll have our wonderful water bottles and terrific t-shirts for sale as well as flyers and stickers to give away and information for the public to get involved with BikeSD.

The ribbon cutting event starts at 9 AM at 1400 Tidelands Avenue, National City, CA 91950.  The actual act of cutting will be at 9:30 AM with remarks and cheering.  Come and enjoy the festivities with food and great local businesses like Hub + Spoke Cycleworks.  After the ribbon cutting we'll be going on a group ride along the Bayshore Bikeway to Coronado with a stop at Trident Coffee in the recently opened Bikeway Village in Imperial Beach. We'll return on the Coronado Ferry which heads from Coronado to Downtown San Diego every half hour so we'll likely be on the 12:30 or 1:30 ferry.  We'll start the group ride at 10:30 AM so please be there by 10:30 so we can all leave together.

Join us for conversation, enjoying the beautiful Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay, and celebrating a step forward in creating a robust bike network across the City of San Diego and across the region.  Below is a map of the route we'll take and after returning to Downtown San Diego we'll disperse or grab lunch, as people prefer.  It will be a great start to the weekend and the ride is very flat and almost entirely on a dedicated bicycle path.  Please join us and spread the word.

Join us for a ride after the ribbon cutting! Click image for dynamic map.

Here's the official flyer for the event as well.

Join us on 2/17 to celebrate an improved section of the Bayshore Bikeway!

See you Saturday morning and make sure to arrive by 10:30 AM to join us on the bicycle ride!