Interview with Jay Porter

Jay Porter, the genius behind The Linkery agreed to chat with Bike San Diego about his thoughts on bikes and urban design in San Diego.

Earlier this year, he sold his car and has been "more-or-less car free" since then. The Linkery is one of the 100 best farm-to-table restaurants in the country that caters to those who have an appreciation for hand made cuisine.

Jay Porter Riding


BikeSD: Sea Rocket recently wrote about how many miles each of employees traveled to get to work. What  do the Linkery's numbers look like? How many people bike to work at the Linkery?

Jay: I don't know our numbers as accurately as Dennis (one of the co-owners of Sea Rocket) does his.  We have about 30 employees, and I know 3 who usually drive to work and another 3 who alternate between driving and biking or transit.  Of the rest, I'd say most people walk to work but probably there are 5 or 6 (including me) who usually bicycle.

BikeSD: For the people that do drive to work, what are their current stumbling blocks to arriving at work via bicycle, walking or public transit?

Jay: I think the status and convenience of driving a nice car is pretty important still in San Diego.  It's a lot easier to pick up girls when they know you can, in fact, pick them up and take them somewhere.  North Park and 30th Street are a bit of an exception because the urban fabric is such that a lot of young, single people are used to walking/biking everywhere they go out, but if you're a dude in any other San Diego neighborhood a car is going to really help in terms of getting laid.  And once one part of your life is car-centric, usually your circumstances grow to require it all the time.

BikeSD: In reading reviews of your restaurants, a common complaint seems to be the difficulty in finding automobile parking near the Linkery. How do you address that complaint and what have you done to make biking to the Linkery a more feasible and ideal option?

Jay: That's hilarious -- we are literally across the street from a multi-story parking garage that is open late and is never full.  Not to mention that even on the busiest weekend nights, there is free street parking usually within a couple blocks, always within 6 or 7 blocks.The meme itself -- that parking is difficult at the Linkery -- shows how skewed our perception is of the world: we actually expect that any place we'd want to go be located in sea of asphalt so we can get as close as possible to the front doors, for free.  And then we build places like that, and they look like Mission Valley shopping malls and the Wal-Mart and Fry's and Qualcomm Stadium along I-15, and if you have to go there for some reason it's utter hell.

A place that people actually want to live and go out and eat and shop, on the other hand, looks like 30th Street  -- which is why it's so busy.  And the business are up on the street, right next to each other, no parking lots.

If we want a good city we have to stop thinking that the built environment should exist for the convenience of automobiles, and instead think that it should exist for the joy of human beings, particularly when people come together.

As for making the Linkery bike feasible, we of course arranged for a bike rack to be in front of the building, but even better, all the ADA-required railing makes for tons of bike parking, as do the railings to the bar area.  So I'm pretty sure we've never run out of bike parking.

We also really embraced the fact that the #2 bus stops right in front of the restaurant.  When, we were designing the restaurant, a lot of businesspeople and so forth said we would have to wall off the bus stop because it would be full of misbehaving indigent people who would drive off our patrons.  Instead, we opened up the bar dining room to the bus stop, and try to encourage our patrons to take the bus as well.  (I thought for years that the #2 is one of San Diego's biggest assets and the City and MTS just aren't exploiting it well.  The service should be continually upgraded and promoted with the idea of eventually restoring the rail tracks it ran on nearly 100 years ago.)

I think biking and transit really work together; if you use both it can make for the same degree of freedom you'd have with a car, but of course with the way better quality of life that comes from not being behind the wheel.

BikeSD: Southern California and the automobile culture seem inseparable considering how much of the living spaces and transportational infrastructure is constructed. What have been your challenges as a business owner in breaking away from the automobile culture?

Jay: Honestly, there haven't been too many challenges as far as getting away from the automotive culture. (Have there been countless other challenges? Hell yes.) Mainly it's just required living and thinking as though neighborhood and pedestrians are important, and creating space for others to live and think the same way.  Our particular business -- because we work with so many different farmers and so forth -- does require that we drive several trips a week, but we keep a car at the shop and share it between everyone who has to run Linkery errands.   That way no one is required to drive to work and we only use cars when we have to move goods.

I note that, in a way, the purpose of the business itself is to help people break away from the automobile culture if they want to.  Before we started this thing, I was living in town but working up in Sorrento Whereever, and I would travel to places like Sydney or London and think, I need to move here, I want to live in a city and walk to work and walk from work to the bar or restaurant and meet friends and have a great time.  But then, actually leaving to move to a "better" city seemed kind of consumer-ish and icky. Obviously the enlightened approach would instead be to try to make the place I'm from better.

So I started a restaurant I and my neighbors could walk to -- either if they worked there or as a patron -- killing two birds with one stone.  The great thing was a bunch of other people had the same idea at the same time at the exact same intersection, and they put a whole bunch of work into it, and there was Zensei and Lefty's and us and then Bluefoot and Alexander's, and "Restaurant Row" was up and running.

That intersection (where Sea Rocket is now, in our old location) worked great as one node on a street that is really becoming a fantastic, world class street.  To see, for instance, The Station and Velo Cult next to each other, across from Citizen Video, these places that are excellently done through and through, and any city in the world would be stoked to have a stretch of 100 feet like that in its midst.  Up at the top, where Jayne's and Cantina Mayahuel and Kadan's are, is another great node.And where we're at now, at 30th, is taking shape nicely, although there are still some challenges here, for instance the parking garage and the bank which as buildings just don't interact with the street very well.  (However, the dance studio on the corner is doing a great job of keeping things lively in spite of how much the building limits what they can do to engage the street -- I'm super impressed with that place.)

BikeSD: What advice would you give to those who are trying to create an urban oasis in San Diego based around people rather than the automobile?

Jay: First envision it, then live as if it's true, and eventually it will be.

Thanks for sitting down with us Jay. We look forward to seeing the Linkery grow and continue providing a model that others can aspire to. Keep riding!

City to unveil new roadway safety campaign

The City of San Diego and SANDAG will unveil a new roadway safety campaign next month called "Lose the Roaditude" which aims to reduce the number of confrontations and accidents between automobile drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians. The campaign is designed to increase awareness of basic traffic rules, promote courtesy, and reduce aggressive behavior by all users of public roadways.

From the webpage:

Through the Lose the Roaditude Campaign, we strive to foster respect among cyclists, motorists and pedestrians and encourage them to share the road safely by reducing aggressive attitudes while biking, driving and walking. Ultimately, the campaign goal is to modify the behaviors of these three groups in order to decrease the number of crashes, injuries and fatalities (emphasis added).


While the safety angle and the call to follow the rules of the road are much appreciated, one wonders whether bicyclists and pedestrians are really the source of much roadway aggression. Does yelling at a driver who nearly runs down a pedestrian or bicyclist constitute aggressive behavior? Suggesting that drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians all have an obligation to be courteous and observe traffic safety is fine (we're big proponents of bicyclists behaving courteously), but as long as automobiles constitute the majority of the traffic (and cause the majority of accidents), they should be the primary targets of any campaign to reduce aggressive and unlawful behavior.

Bike San Diego will be following this new campaign as it develops, hopefully in a positive direction.

City Projects Cropping Up

If you have been riding, walking, or driving on San Diego streets within the last two weeks, you have probably noticed some additional roadway construction. The results of a $102.7 million bond are coming to fruition across the city as crews get to work on a list of city council-approved projects, including resurfacing 120 miles of streets.

Bike San Diego noticed this morning that the wretched stretch of Maryland Street between Meade and Lincoln has been resurfaced. The lines have not yet been painted, but we can assume the bike lane will reappear there shortly. This is particularly handy for riders traveling between University Heights and Hillcrest, as they now have a smoother and safer ride down Maryland to Lincoln and the Vermont Street pedestrian bridge over Washington Street, rather than negotiating the often-hazardous intersection of Cleveland Avenue and Washington Street.

Noticed any other projects that are having an impact, either positive or negative, on bicycling in the San Diego metro area? Leave a note in the comments, or send us a tip.

Burley 2009 ST Product Recall

2009 d’lite ST and Solo ST Child

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Burley announced a voluntary recall of the 2009 d’lite ST and Solo ST Child Trailers. Although no incidents or injuries have been reported, the hazard reported is that "the axle assembly’s internal sleeve can loosen, causing one wheel to separate from the trailer. This poses a risk of injury to the child occupant or bike rider."
Burley's website has more information on the voluntary recall.

Image via

Velo Cult's New Website

new-logoEveryone's favorite South Park bike shop, Velo Cult, unveiled a newly designed website yesterday. Their new website has an online store that sells wool jerseys, and many, many drool-worthy bicycles. Sky Boyer's efforts in promoting bicycling culture and catering to the San Diegan bicycle commuter population have not gone unnoticed. We wish Mr. Boyer the best and for many satisfied customers.