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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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/