Our Streets are Changing (Slowly)

At times, advocating for improved bicycle infrastructure feels like a discouraging, prolonged fight for every single inch of our public streets. However, our streets are improving! This blog post highlights some changes that have occurred recently as streets are resurfaced. If you have seen other great changes to our streets, please leave a comment below or tweet us (@bikesd).  Also, feel free to contact your city councilmember to ask for more improvements!!

Balboa Ave. Cycletrack

Balboa Ave. is road that highlights San Diego’s challenges to become a world class city for bicycles. It’s a high speed stroad in sections but it also is a major connection to employment centers of Clairemont Mesa and Kearny Mesa. So BikeSD was very happy to see the old narrow shoulder replaced with a bike lane with protective flexible posts for a portion of the roadway. (Clairemont Dr. to Balboa Ave.) While certainly an improvement, Balboa Ave. is still plagued by the high speed ramps of freeways (805, 163) and even nearby surface streets such as Morena Blvd.  

Balboa Ave. Cycletrack, San Diego CA

26th St. Uphill Bicycle Lane

Balboa Park is great! This greatness is in spite of high speed roads throughout the park. Redesigning our streets throughout the park for bicyclists would allow more people to access the park without needing a parking spot.  

26th St. connects the neighborhood of Golden Hill to the Florida Canyon portion of Balboa Park. It serves as important connection to Downtown for Golden Hill and North Park residents. Prior to the recent resurfacing, 26th had very wide travel lanes with only a narrow shoulder at the edge of each lane. After the resurfacing project, 26th St. has a buffered bicycle lane for the uphill portion (Florida Canyon to Golden Hill).  The narrowing of the travel lanes should reduce the ability of automobiles to speed. Sharrows were added to the downhill portion of the roadway.

Currently, these improvements lead bicyclists into more Balboa Park high speed roads (Pershing Drive and Florida Drive).  However, we are optimistic that the 26th St. improvements will connect to the planned transformative SANDAG project for Pershing Drive.

26th St. Uphill Bicycle Lane, San Diego CA

6th Ave. Road Diet

In 2010, influential Uptown Planner Board member, Leo Wilson, called Walk San Diego’s (now CirculateSD) suggestion for 6th Ave road diet as “extreme.” So BikeSD was thrilled to see the recent road diet for 6th Ave. (South of Laurel St). The 4-lane road has been converted to single travel in each direction with a left turn lane.  Both sides of the road now have buffered bike lanes! BikeSD hope this project will continue further north to connect Hillcrest and Balboa Park.

6th Ave. Road Diet, San Diego CA


What We've Been Reading

San Diego Pledges $130M to Fight Climate Change

From: Court House News Service

“One of the biggest pieces of the pie — $14.5 million in new funding and $12.7 million in indirect funding — was allocated toward "supporting actions" including developing a transportation master plan, implementing community-planning studies and several safe routes to school projects and the Vision Zero plan for zero traffic-related deaths by 2025.”

What We have Been Reading: Bicycle News

We’re backpedaling here!

From: La Jolla Light

“A few bike lanes exist in La Jolla. […] But the ones in La Jolla lack the separation, and Andy pointed out that for bike lanes to be safe, they need that separation.”

Bike Lanes In Downtown San Diego Mean Fewer Parking Spaces, Car Lanes

From: KPBS

“Hanshaw said the plan actually increases the number of parking spaces in the short term, and that by the time spaces are eliminated and the new bike lanes are built he hopes fewer people will be driving.”

San Diego Council OKs Adding 9 Miles Of Bike Lanes Downtown

From: KPBS

“The San Diego City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a plan for downtown San Diego that will add nine miles of new bike lanes and more than five miles of widened sidewalks.”

Ambitious Plan Would Transform Downtown Streets

From: San Diego Union Tribune

“’It will improve mobility choices by what we call “right sizing” the streets — by using the extra capacity that exists now for cars to make way for people walking and biking,’ she said. ‘It will improve safety and get more people out of their cars and on their feet and their bicycles.’”

Uptown Bikeways Project Rides to a Milestone Moment

From: San Diego Uptown News

“‘Losing 12 to 16 parking spaces is not a lot,’ Jamason said, noting that there are 700 off-street parking spaces in that area. [….] ‘There is no safe biking route through Hillcrest. To say people’s lives are worth less than a few parking spaces is ludicrous.’”

Power Plants Are No Longer America’s Biggest Climate Problem. Transportation Is.

From: Vox

“Oil remains by far the dominant source of fuel for cars, trucks, and planes, and there’s no readily available substitute here.”

But How Many Downtown Bicycle Thefts?

From: San Diego Reader

“Part of the increase in thefts, according to Karimi, is because more people are riding bikes.”

BTA Will Change Name, Expand Mission to Walking, Transit and Political Action

From: Bike Portland

“[T]he BTA could lead a new political action committee (PAC) that could have wide-ranging impacts on elections and policy measures statewide.”

Two injured in suspected DUI hit-and-run in Solana Beach

From: CBS 8

“A 24-year-old woman who was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and felony hit-and-run allegedly struck and seriously injured a man and a boy riding bicycles with family members and friends in Solana Beach, the San Diego Sheriff's Department reported Sunday.”

What Jane Means: 4 Women Urbanists Reflect on Their Relationship to Jane Jacobs

From: Metropolis

“[T]he idea of ‘multiplicity of choice,’ which Jacobs mentions frequently, is a perception more often than a reality. People will try a different form of transportation when they can see that it works. Maybe someone sitting on a bus will notice a cyclist pedaling down a bike lane. Or a driver sees a light rail train rocket while stuck on an offramp.”

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Uptown Parking District Board Members Just Can't Stand Bicycle Riders

It seems like its always Groundhog Day in Uptown. Last year, SANDAG board members voted to create the Uptown Hole as shown below:

Since that vote, many of our supporters have banded together to ensure that when it comes time to implement the Uptown Bikeway, the gap ceases to exist. The SANDAG board is scheduled to determine if the project can be exempted from a CEQA review, since the rationale used to justify the hole was based on the archaic Level of Service justification—or rather, the old car-centric view that the only form of traffic worth analyzing and planning for was vehicle traffic.

But in the meantime some board members at the Uptown Parking District, a city sanctioned (and funded) entity to manage Uptown's parking supply, want to chip away at the existing proposed routes (highlighted in purple above).

Below is an email from our board member, Paul Jamason that will give an insight on this continued shortsightedness by the Uptown Community Parking District whose mission is to:

improve availability and supply of parking for residents and businesses, by re-investing its portion of parking meter funds with fiscal responsibility. The district will also consider traffic circulation, transit effectiveness, biking, and pedestrian mobility in its neighborhoods and develop creative collaborations to support a vibrant local economy.

One way to "improve the availability and supply of parking for residents and businesses" is to offer choices that prevent the need to drive, increasing supply doesn't always mean building more parking. But without a connected bikeway network, the only option to get around will be the vehicle which requires far more land for parking.

The email from Jamason below was sent to Mayor Faulconer and Councilmember Gloria:

Hi, I'm writing to inform Mayor Faulconer and Councilman Gloria's offices of Monday's Uptown Community Parking District Board meeting regarding the SANDAG Uptown Bikeway.  The Board will be voting again on whether to recommend removal of the Bikeway on 4th and 5th Ave north of Robinson, so I'm asking that representatives of your offices attend.
This motion was previously voted on, and failed, at the April UCPD Board meeting.  Adriana Martinez from Councilman Gloria's office informed UCPD that SANDAG would be proceeding with this segment of the Bikeway regardless of UCPD's advisory vote (1 minute mark here: http://bit.ly/1WKzLgc).  However, the Hillcrest Business Association is determined to remove this segment, and its UCPD board members have forced a second vote - when the current UCPD President is unable to attend due to illness.
Monday's motion from UCPD/HBA board member Cecelia Moreno includes new language stating that this Bikeway segment should not be exempt from CEQA because it removes 12 street parking spaces (there are 700+ off-street spaces on these blocks).  The notion that removing a small amount of parking for a bike lane is a "negative environmental impact" is dubious at best.
As your offices are aware, UCPD has been directed to "facilitate the use of alternative forms of transportation to reduce parking demand" (https://www.sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/newsrelease150630.pdf).  The Bikeway is an alternative form of transportation, and it is needed to help achieve the city's Climate Action Plan bike more share goals.
UCPD has also been sitting on millions of dollars in unspent parking funds.  At the April meeting, Executive Director Elizabeth Hannon was asked what this balance was but has not provided an answer.  Instead, UCPD is wasting public parking funds on staff resources for ad-hoc group meetings and unnecessary votes.
Moreno criticismYour constituents' safety is also being disregarded by UCPD HBA members.  HBA Executive Director/UCPD board member Ben Nicholls told me, "(Some) cyclists give all riders a bad name by riding up on sidewalks… with complete disregard for any rule or procedure at all“, but the sidewalk bicyclist in the attached photo told me it is too dangerous to ride on University.  Moreno told me SANDAG would implement pedestrian improvements in the University bikeway gap, but a SANDAG representative confirmed no changes are planned.  Due to the above, Uptown Planners voted to recommend SANDAG close this bike network gap.
I am asking that representatives from your offices attend Monday's meeting to reaffirm the City's commitment to its Climate Action Plan, parking district bylaws, public safety, and the remaining Bikeway.  Unnecessary votes and criticisms of SANDAG and UCPD members who work together with them (http://sdgln.com/news/2016/03/15/sandag-wants-remove-parking-bankers-hill-uptown-bike-way) are not part of UCPD's mission.
Thank you,
Paul Jamason

Bringing more "eyes on the street": Horton Plaza Park Opens

Yesterday would have been Jane Jacob's 100th birthday. This famed visionary known for her book, Life and Death of Great American Cities, is also equally famous for having fought against the building of an expressway that would have destroyed her Greenwich Village neighborhood. At the heart of her message is just this simple idea - to prioritize people first. Nnot too radical of a concept considering BikeSD's own mission.

Even Google paused its march toward for driverless cars to honor Jacobs yesterday:

Thus yesterday was a fitting tribute to open a new public space in San Diego, the Horton Plaza Park.

Our local placeshaker, Howard Blackson, took some great photos showcasing the new park downtown:

More people outside the automobile contributes to not just a more livable space, but one that is safe as well. I'd like to quote a bit from this article published last year on The City Fix:

Urban security is not simply a matter of policing: it is directly related to the quality of public spaces and their ability to attract people onto the streets.

Public spaces, like people, are not islands, isolated from the surrounding environment. Public spaces are connected to collective identity, everyday life, and the ways that we interact and meet one another. Cities gain their vitality from their residents—beyond the walls of buildings and in public spaces at the essence of urban life.

Pushing policies and agendas to keep people isolated from one another, whether it be through expanding more highways to induce more driving, or advocating for more vehicle parking on our most valuable public spaces - our city streets - is the antithesis of city living and ultimately contributes toward an unsafe environment. More public spaces and more bike lanes all contribute toward a better city and a better quality of life for everyone. Pretty nice to see that downtown is continuing to enable "more eyes on the street".

News, Links, and Other Views

Much better use of SANDAG's PR dollars. Save the date: May 20th, is Bike to Work Day.

Happy Monday! Time to check in and see what bicycling news has happened since the last edition of, News, Links, and Other Views.

San Diego

San Diego County

  • Bicycle riders and pedestrians are the eyes and ears on our streets. More people outside the motor vehicle keeps everyone safe as this story illustrates, Carlsbad mom reunites with cyclist who saved her life.
  • Climate change denialism exists in San Diego County.
  • Bike corrals are coming to Leucadia.
  • Carlsbad's leaders envision a bright future for their city which includes building a parking garage.
  • After a 12 year old boy was killed after riding his bike to school, Oceanside City Council voted, after resident pressure, to widen bike lanes on Coast Highway. The pressure has resulted in a pilot project that is move in the right direction.
  • Construction for the Bikeway Village in Imperial Beach has begun. It's a development along the Bayshore Bikeway.
  • Anti-bike residents protested the construction of a multi-use path that would connect Cardiff and Encinitas.
  • If you want to ride north of Oceanside and don't want to ride on the I-5 shoulder, barriers to riding through Camp Pendelton has gotten more stringent, because...of "incidents around the world." In order to ride through the base, you have to "register and undergo the background check. Once approved, the bicyclist’s registration will be good for one year". Contact the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition if you want to have this rule changed.
  • In Coronado, like in the city of San Diego, bike baits are being used to nab bike thieves.
  • La Mesa is en route to creating a network of 22.1 miles of trails for bicycling and walking.
  • A ‘Complete street’ project is behind schedule in San Marcos.