A Quick Look at FY 2019 City Council Budget Priorities

Council district mapSan Diego City Councilmembers submitted their priorities to the Office of the Independent Budget Analyst (IBA) in January 2019 and the IBA created a report which can be seen here: https://www.sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/18_01_fy_2019_city_council_budget_priorities_complete_report.pdf

From the report:

"All Councilmembers indicated that support for the Climate Action Plan (CAP) is a priority in FY 2019, although no single-CAP related item was supported by a majority of Councilmembers. Budget priority memoranda included requests for adaptive traffic signals intended to ease congestion; additional staffing for the City’s Urban Forestry Program, Vision Zero program, and other CAP-related activities; a Community Choice Energy local buildout study; a mobility monitoring program to measure bicycle, pedestrian, and transit mode share; and the addition of CAP social equity metrics."

City Council budget priorities 2019

BikeSD is pleased that all Council members supported programs related to City’s Climate Action Plan and public safety including Vision Zero. But we continue to see a lack of clear direction with regard to exactly what projects should be prioritized. BikeSD Executive Director Judi Tentor spoke in favor of the Budget Priorities and encouraged Council to accelerate bicycle infrastructure projects as much as possible.

Councilmember Scott Sherman from the Seventh District was the only Councilmember who did not call out Pedestrian and Cycling Safety as a priority. All other Councilmembers cited many bicycle related infrastructure projects.

Eight Councilmembers prioritized projects in their memoranda designed to enhance pedestrian and cycling safety. A variety of requests were made as part of this priority including:

  • Prioritizing funding for infrastructure improvements in the corridors identified as part of Vision Zero, especially the “Fatal 15” intersections
  • Initiating traffic calming measures such as raised delineators or electronic (VCalm) signs
  • Installing rectangular rapid flashing beacons, crosswalks, and constructing Safe Routes to Schools program improvements

This is good news. BikeSD will be reviewing bicycle infrastructure projects outlined in the report in the coming weeks. If we can hold the the Council to account on these projects, push for funding and accelerated timelines, we might come close to meeting our CAP goals for bicycle mode share. Maybe.


West Point Loma Blvd. showing cyclists riding on sidewalk, 2019

West Point Loma Blvd bike lanes: still no approval from PCPB

West Point Loma Blvd. showing cyclists riding on sidewalk, 2019

On Thursday night, staff from San Diego's Traffic & Storm Water Division (TSW) presented slides detailing the West Point Loma Blvd bike lane project to the Peninsula Community Planning Board (PCPB). The project encompasses a "road diet" on a 4-lane-wide stretch of West Point Loma Blvd., reconfigured to a 2-car-lane street with a Class 2 bike lane (paint-buffered only) and other traffic calming measures. This was the third presentation since October 2018 made by the city to the Peninsula community board about the West Point Loma Blvd. bike lane project. TSW's slideshow gave PCPB the results of their detailed traffic analysis, parking study data, lane configuration drawings, and Level of Service (LoS) impacts — all of which showed minimal impacts on drivers along the corridor — in an effort to win approval from the community board for the project.

Unfortunately, the PCPB did not approve the project, though it also did not make a motion of denial.

San Diego TSW engineer Madeline Saltzman presenting to the Peninsula Community Planning Board, January 17, 2019Speakers in support of the project from BikeSD and San Diego County Bicycle Coalition urged the board to approve the bike facility. There were also others, including local residents on West Point Loma Blvd, that also spoke in favor of better bicycle facilities along this corridor.

There were also a handful of residents that were opposed or had questions. Two audience members took issue with the term "road diet," and insisted that this should be called a "lane removal." Board members' questions focused on issues of traffic delay, the 'back-in/angled parking' configuration, the decline from a Grade B to a Grade C 'Level of Service', and the 'math not working out' when a car lane was removed. These questions were challenging for TSW staff, who gave technical answers that didn't mollify critics on the board.

Many of the PCPB board members shared desire for better bicycle facilities but still wanted to critically discuss specific design elements. Nicole Burgess of BikeSD said, "I think some them truly want to be traffic engineers."

In the end, there was no vote on the project but the board passed a motion calling for the City to return and discuss it further at the PCPB Transportation Subcommittee.

BikeSD's Nicole Burgess speaking in favor of the West Point Loma bike lanesNicole Burgess wrote San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer immediately following the meeting, "I believe the City has done due diligence and provided adequate information as they have presented three times now at the PCPB. Also, as a reminder, the OB Planning Group unanimously supported a road diet to provide safe bicycle facilities."

BikeSD believes that Level of Service (LoS) should not be the focus of presentations about bike infrastructure, just as it has been removed as a valid topic for CEQA studies. LoS leads to a very narrow discussion about the impact on drivers and travel-time rather than safety and the equitable use of public rights-of-way. Instead, the Vision Zero Systematic Solutions for Safety should be the leading guideline for these types of improvements. We can not let Community Planning Groups make final decisions for the safety measures needed for our streets to meet Vision Zero and CAP goals.

The West Point Loma bike facility was originally proposed by the Bicycle Advisory Board back in the spring of 2018, with unanimous support for the project. For the safety of all road users, BikeSD is hopeful that Mayor Faulconer and Councilmember Jennifer Campbell will advocate for this type of improvement in their community. We applaud TSW's proposed striping plans and believe this Class 2 bike lane is an essential piece of the puzzle to fill in the gap along this corridor.

 


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Park Boulevard and Robinson Av intersection design 2018

Park Boulevard Bikeway - open house & traffic safety hearing January 8

SANDAG announcement of Park Blvd Open HouseMark your calendars for the January 8th open house and hearing about SANDAG's proposed Park Boulevard Bikeway Project. This event is focused on presenting the recently-completed Park Boulevard Traffic and Safety Impact Assessment.

Date/Time:
Tuesday, January 8, 2019
6 – 6:45 p.m. Open House
6:45 – 8 p.m. Public Hearing

Location:
Roosevelt Middle School
3366 Park Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92103

 

The Traffic and Safety Impact Assessment being presented at the open house has some very interesting bike and pedestrian path designs. Below is an image of the current intersection at Park Blvd. and Robinson Ave. Below that is a drawing from the Traffic Study showing how the new bike path is configured at this same intersection. The proposed bike lanes come up onto the corner bulb-outs and cross through the pedestrian space (taking the rider out of traffic lanes for many movements through the intersection). Please take a look at the Traffic and Safety Impact Assessment for more eye-opening details on this new bikeway.

Street view of Park and Robinson intersection 2018
Current intersection at Park and Robinson, looking north. December 2018.
Park Boulevard and Robinson Av intersection design 2018
Configuration of proposed low-speed lanes and bulbouts at Park and Robinson intersection, as detailed in the Traffic & Safety Study (p. 35). January 2019.

SANDAG's Transportation Committee is anticipated to consider whether the proposed project is exempt from CEQA at its February 1, 2019, meeting. Comments collected at this public hearing and open house (as well as written responses to those comments) will be provided to the Transportation Committee for its consideration before its February 1, 2019, meeting.

SANDAG's project director believes the Park Boulevard bikeway has broad community support and doesn't expect much, if any, opposition to the design. Nevertheless, we encourage all BikeSD members with an interest in the Park Blvd bikeway to attend and give their input. Support for bikeways in San Diego is never something to be taken for granted so it's important for bike advocates to speak in favor of these facilities at every public hearing.

Hope to see you there on Tuesday at 6 pm!


2018 Year End Update

BikeSD Campaigns 2018 - End of Year Report

2018 Year-End Update

BikeSD saw progress on a number of local campaigns for bike infrastructure in 2018 — as well as a few delays and setbacks. Here's the end-of-year scoop on several of them:

 

Downtown Mobility Plan hits the ground

The first phase of downtown San Diego's bikeway was striped in late December with great fanfare. New two-way cycletracks along J Street are just the start, though finishing all three planned phases of the project will take sustained effort. Get the full scoop on progress to date on this central set of bikeways.

BikeSD gets Gilman Dr. some buffered bike lanes

A last-minute opportunity arose during a sewer replacement by UCSD along Gilman Drive in La Jolla: bike lanes with buffered space could be added after the road was resurfaced by the University. Read about BikeSD's successful presentation to the UC Planning Group and where this led on the safety of the Gilman Dr corridor.

Potential 30th Street Bikeway

A grassroots campaign called 'Right Side Club,' founded by Matt Stucky, pushed for a better north-south bike facility on the eastern side of Balboa Park. The city's current bike Master Plan on the east side were lackluster so Matt laid out a better plan for a bike facility along 30th Street. Check out some great thinking on this potential alignment.

SANDAG's Hillcrest Bikeway is modified

A recent push by City Councilmember Chris Ward's office to create a park-like urban space in Uptown, called "The Normal Street Promenade," has pushed back SANDAG's timeline for the Eastern Hillcrest Bikeways by 3 to 6 months. But the Promenade has led to some interesting changes in the bikeway design along Normal Street. Perhaps more importantly, the Promenade has created community-wide alliance to that's invested in seeing SANDAG's Phase 2 bikeways completed in full.

Balboa Avenue Station

The Balboa Ave Area Specific Plan has been one big disappointment to transit, pedestrian, and bike advocates. A large parking lot, car-centric station design, poor access from points west like Pacific Beach, a narrow and difficult access ramp for non-drivers. Read about our efforts to get changes in the Balboa Station plan.

Border to Bayshore Bikeway

BikeSD was at the SANDAG transportation committee meeting to advocate for this important connection and to encourage MTS to work with SANDAG where a new rapid bus line will intersect with bike infrastructure. Project information here.

 

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Map of the 2018 Downtown Mobility Plan

The Downtown Mobility Plan hits the ground but much work remains

The first stripes of the Downtown Mobility Plan are laid on J Street, December 2018

Map of the 2018 Downtown Mobility Plan
The Downtown Mobility Plan (DMP) has broken ground in San Diego as of December 19, 2018! Paint crews began striping thermoplastic lanes along J Street and the entire DMP Phase 1 should be complete “in a few months time,” according to Mayor Faulconer. This day has been a long time coming after years of planning, delays and cost overruns, but we’d like to offer our thanks to Mayor Faulconer for pushing this project forward over the last couple of months. We note that in 2016 the mayor pledged to complete all cycletracks during his 2nd term.

The Downtown Mobility Plan’s first phase will create Class VI bike tracks on:

  • Beech Street from Pacific Highway to Sixth Avenue
  • Sixth Avenue from Beech Street to Harbor Drive
  • J Street from 1st Avenue to Park Boulevard

These tracks are two-way cycle tracks (special bike lanes that provide a right-of-way for cyclists and scooter riders within the roadway). Parked cars, flex posts, and or grade variations will separate the tracks from vehicular traffic. When all three phases are fully built-out, the Downtown Mobility Plan will provide 9.3 miles of these two-way cycle tracks around downtown San Diego, connecting points like the Convention Center with Balboa Park.

photo of DMP press conference Dec 21, 2018

R-L: CM Chris Ward, Mayor Faulconer, SDCBC's Andy Harkan, BikeSD's Nicole Burgess, and Randy Torres-Van Vleck at the press conference announcing the start of the Downtown Mobility Plan bikeway. - Dec 21, 2018

 

BikeSD was there at the start of discussions for the Downtown Mobility Plan, we were there in April of this year when the mayor’s office wanted to change the design and delay this project an additional 5 years, and we were there for today’s press conference as well. We applaud the mayor for getting this often-delayed project out of the City’s Streets Division and onto city streets.

While Phase 1 is a great start, Phases 2 and 3 represent the greater share of the Downtown Mobility Plan bikeways and will likely not unfold as quickly or easily as Phase 1. Natalia Torres, Associate Civil Engineer for the City’s Streets Division, explained that the later Downtown phases may not be managed by the City’s Streets Division but instead may be handled by the Department of Public Works (DPW). For those not familiar with the city’s bifurcated engineering divisions, this could be bad news for cyclists and scooter users because DPW is often slower to roll out infrastructure. DPW staff typically handle physical infrastructure like drains, underground wiring, and things like Americans with Disability Compliance elements. DPW often takes longer because they deal less often with things like bikeway design and surface configuration. And given that later phases of the Plan involved difficult pedestrian and bike connections to the notoriously bad Pacific Coast Highway, this challenge will be significant for DPW staff to handle.

BikeSD and other mobility advocates will need to continue to press the city to move forward on the DMP, especially to push the city to use the Streets Division to implement Phase 2 and 3 of the plan so that it doesn’t get slowed down. And we expect continued opposition from groups like the Little Italy Association, which has a history of opposing bike lanes in their district.

Even though today was a day to celebrate a small victory for biking, scooting, and walking safety, there’s a long road ahead to complete the full vision of the Downtown Mobility Plan. The news media will move on from this story. Elected officials may change or depart. Engineering staff may move on to other projects. But BikeSD will be there, making sure that the Downtown Mobility Plan continues to get attention and move towards full completion.

 

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(Plus, receive a free BikeSD t-shirt with every membership, while supplies last.)