Balboa Ave Station's poor access for bikes and pedestrians

Little hope for MidCoast and Balboa Transit Station

Balboa Ave Station's poor access for bikes and pedestriansThe City of San Diego's Balboa Specific Plan is going to the San Diego Planning Commission tomorrow at 9:00 AM, Thursday, December 13, at Council Chambers, 12th Floor, City Administration Bldg., 202 C Street, San Diego CA 92101. It will then be heard at City Council next month.

BikeSD does not support The Balboa Specific Plan (full plan PDF is found here) because it lacks any vision for an ecologically-friendly gateway into the Pacific Beach community. BikeSD does support the diverse community members who are advocating for a better plan that does not aim towards a car-centric future for this station or this community.

This area of San Diego is receiving a $2.2 billion dollar investment as one of the nation’s thirteen 'EcoDistrict Communities' yet the City fails to support this vision in its design of Balboa Transit Station's with limited access from across Interstate 5 from the west, Pacific Beach.

Any transit station is only successful if it addresses the last mile connection between where residents live and the transit services they're ultimately seek to use. Despite a gap between Mid-Coast and Bay that is less than a mile, the Balboa Specific Plan presents no real solution for getting active commuters safely across the I-5 freeway. This will severely lower the use of this new station.

The new station design accommodates car and truck access well, with ample parking lots. But for transit riders who approach the station on foot, by bike, wheelchair, or micro-mobility devices, all that's provided is a 4-foot wide path across Balboa Avenue. To be successful, this station needs a bigger, first-class multi-use path.

Making matters worse, the small bridge provided in the Plan leads riders and walkers into the mess of a vehicle-congested intersection at Garnet Ave. and Mission Bay Drive. This is substandard, terrible planning.

BikeSD says it's time to listen to the residents. They are asking for a multi-use bridge over the I-5 to safely connect all transit users to their homes, to the beach, to Mission Bay, and to the businesses in Pacific Beach. They're asking for a design that lets these residents enjoy their last mile along the waterfront, visiting a local coffee shop, or just getting some fresh air before their next task in life.

We need the proposed bridge (or tunnel) across the I-5 to be in the plan and to be prioritized. It can be done and should be done ASAP. The plan should also include Class IV bike lanes on Garnet Ave. and Mission Bay Drive, dedicated bike signalization, and protected intersections.

This station will open and soon and it is exciting for our region to have a beautiful new transit line, but if we cannot accommodate these eco-friendly commuters, then we have failed in the process.

And it's also critical that MTS be part of this discussion. Large buses into and out of Pacific Beach is not the answer - innovative small autonomous shuttles will support this movement in a better way and I hope SANDAG and MTS can pilot such a program.

BikeSD urges biking, walking, and scooting advocates to go to the Planning Commission and speak for adding better mult-use access to the new station, especially from the western (Pacific Beach) approach.


Cover slide of the Gilman Drive road diet presentation, November 2018, by Judi Tentor

Gilman Drive (La Jolla) buffered bike lane update

Cover slide of the Gilman Drive road diet presentation, November 2018, by Judi Tentor
Cover slide of the Gilman Drive sewer line re-striping presentation, November 2018

A four-lane road, Gilman Drive in La Jolla near the Univ. of California San Diego (UCSD), recently had new sewer lines installed. A stretch of this newly-repaved road was mere weeks away from getting re-striped when BikeSD mobilized to have the speed limit reduced and buffered bike lanes added.

BikeSD Executive Director Judi Tentor quickly assembled a Powerpoint and made a presentation to the University City Planning Group (UCPG) to show the many ways a road diet would improve the Gilman Drive corridor for all users. The Planning Group was enthusiastic about everything in Judi's presentation, though UCSD felt it could only contribute improved lane striping (in the form of buffered bike lanes rather than a full lane/parking removal as part of their sewer line replacement.) Still, it was the most suppportive community planning group reaction Judi ever attended.

After the presentation at UCPG, BikeSD received tentative support for a change of striping from staff at UCSD. So BikeSD worked with San Diego city staff engineer Brian Genovese to get revised striping plans for Gilman Drive that include new buffered bike lanes. These drawings were completed in early December and sent to UCSD for use in the university's Gilman Drive re-striping coming later this month. BikeSD and all the UC area cyclists are hopeful about seeing this improved striping get used when UCSD closes up the sewer line project.

What remains, however, is a full set of safety improvements for bikes and scooters along the Gilman Dr corridor. In principle, UCSD says it supports narrowing the lanes, reducing traffic speeds, and a fully protected bike facility along Gilman Drive. It will be interesting to see whether this will translate to future UCSD explicit calls for making the most of this corridor. BikeSD looks forward to partnering with UCSD, the UCPG, and CalTrans in expanding safety and access for all users along the entire Gilman Dr. corridor.


Normal Street Promenade before and after photo. Left side shows University at Normal St as currently configured in 2018. On the left, a rendering in 2016 of the promenade.

Normal Street Promenade Workshop Seeks Biker Input on January 24

Normal Street Promenade before and after
The image at right is a 2016 artist's rendering by KTU+A of a potential configuration of a new Normal Street. It isn't the current design under consideration but merely a sketch.

 

Hillcrest could have a new urban park-like ‘promenade' by the year 2020, if Councilmember Chris Ward’s plan for the Normal Street Promenade meet with success. The Normal Street Promendade (2016 sketches shown above) will piggyback onto SANDAG's Eastern Hillcrest Bikeway Project (Phase 2) through this corridor in order to take advantage of the street redesign SANDAG will do for the bike lanes. BikeSD has offered qualified support for this new Normal Street pedestrian and biking promenade — but we want all BikeSD members to come to the community meetings where the fate of the Promenade and its SANDAG bikeways will be determined.

The Promenade project is on a relatively quick timeline, faster than most City projects of this nature. There will be two community input “workshops” held on Tuesdays, January 24 and February 19, 2019, at Joyce Beers Hall (3700 Vermont St). These workshops will be followed by a vote at the March 5 Uptown Planners board meeting. In addition, the Normal St. Promenade project is being accelerated by Chris Ward’s office by asking San Diego Dept. of Street Design engineers to be attend both the workshops. The hope is that this will reduce the ‘friction’ that SANDAG infrastructure projects usually encounter at San Diego’s DSD when the city’s engineers don’t understand changes to street design.

One concern for Uptown bike advocates is the additional delay to the Eastern Hillcrest Bikeway Phase 2 (EHB) created by allowing time for a new Promenade design. As BikeSD board member Jeff Kucharski (@JeffKucharski_) noted, SANDAG is already pushing back the expected completion date for EHB by 3-6 months to accommodate this new Normal Street Promenade design. Jeff also notes that nominal support from Hillcrest organizations like Hillcrest Business Association can turn into dismantling of bike lanes. “In 2015, HBA publicly advocated for 'Transform Hillcrest' while privately gutting the University Ave bike lanes. It's easy to see a similar scenario happening here when the Promenade hits headwinds,” he said.

It’s critical that BikeSD's biking, scooter, and mobility advocates attend the workshops and Uptown board meeting to make sure the proposed 2-way cycle track and other enhancements remain the centerpiece of the new design. And to press both SANDAG and CM Ward’s office to ensure that the Eastern Hillcrest Bikeways are not excessively delayed in the process of designing this Promenade. The January 24 and February 19 community workshops also offer an opportunity for BikeSD members to also speak up for mid-speed infrastructure within the Hillcrest community, so we’ll be sending out notices to BikeSD members with details about the workshop next month.


Add yourself to the BikeSD mailing list. To get updates on Uptown bikeway projects like the Normal Street Promenade above, check the box for "Uptown" on our sign-up form here: https://bikesd.org/add-mailing-list/


Three red JUMP bikes on University and 4th Ave in San Diego, CA.

Free JUMP ebike rides through December 9

Three red JUMP bikes on University and 4th Ave in San Diego, CA.On November 19, 2018, Uber announced the launch of dockless electric bikeshare service JUMP in San Diego. JUMP bikes are electric and provide a boost with every pedal (up to 20 mph), making it easier for riders to get around their city without breaking a sweat.

If you've been wanting to see what it feels like to ride an ebike, this is a great opportunity to check them out at no cost. Uber is giving everyone five free trips up to 30 minutes long each day through December 9. Unlock them using the Uber app by tapping the “mode switch” at the top of the Uber homescreen, select a bike, and the app will give you a pin number so you can unlock your bike. The JUMP Bikes app works pretty much the same way.

Uber's "free ride" promotion of JUMP ebikesWhile pricing varies by city, in San Diego at launch, ebikes will cost $1 to unlock and then just 10 cents per minute to ride.  JUMP will start with 300 bikes available across a 28 square mile radius, from Pacific Beach all the way downtown to Crim avenue; and from the northmost point at Chalcedony St. to the southmost point at National Ave.

In 2017, JUMP bikes launched the first ever dockless electric bike share system in the United States. JUMP’s pedal assist bikes are available in Austin, Chicago, Denver, New York City, Providence, Sacramento, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. They also have scooters available in Austin, Santa Monica and LA.

In California, JUMP is already bringing multimodal transportation to users across the state. In October, JUMP started expanding its fleet of bikes San Francisco, from 250 to 500 bikes after data showed that over 38,000 unique riders took more than 326,000 total trips during the pilot. Around Sacramento, JUMP recently expanded its service area by more than 50 percent to meet demand of more residents. And last week, it announced that it started deploying 3,000 ebikes and scooters across LA.

BikeSD is happy to see expanded options for bikeshare in San Diego. However, the continued shortage of safe, high-quality bike lanes across San Diego remains a substantial hindrance for riders of all kinds of low- and human-powered vehicles. We hope companies like Uber and JUMP will become partners with BikeSD to expand our advocacy and educational efforts. Without significant biking/mid-speed infrastructure improvements in San Diego, the adoption rate and potential of these new transport modes will always be limited.


Gilman Dr, La Jolla - during sewer line replacement, 2018

Gilman Drive bike facility (La Jolla)

BikeSD Executive Director Judi Tentor will be speaking at the University Community's Plan Update Subcommittee in an effort to get striping done in the Gilman Dr. Sewer Line Replacement segment to create an enhanced bicycle facility. Meeting starts at 6pm on November 13, 2018. Judi is on the agenda at 8pm. Location: Alexandria Building, 10300 Campus Pointe Dr., 2nd floor, La Jolla.

Photos from the Flickr series here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bicycle_dreaming/sets/72157697610916390