News, Links, and Other Views

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December Nights photo by Emily Valdez.

San Diego

  • This past weekend was December Nights, the annual holiday event in Balboa Park where almost all of the main park is closed to vehicle traffic. Not surprisingly, San Diegans respond by showing up in crowds. The crowds have spawned a twitter account complaining about said crowds. (via) Maybe San Diegans aren't too enthused having all the available public land dominated by the automobile? Maybe I'm just dreaming.
  • Theresa Owens got 19 years for hitting and striking a group of riders, one of whom has been injured for life. Much thanks to the District Attorney's Office for keeping on this case.
  • In cool news, maybe San Diego will one day be home to a binational bike lane.
  • Man Tracks Stolen Bike, Poses as Buyer to Catch Thief. Don't do this as it could lead to bad outcomes in addition to a missing bicycle. Our own SDPD has a great bait bike program where the punishments aren't punitive as much as they just serve as a deterrent. More details about the bike bait program can be reviewed in the Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting minutes from this past May.  If you need another reminder to not deal with the thieves on your own, here is a reminder. These thieves have no conscience or shame. You can prevent your bike from being stolen.
  • BikeSD board member and North Park resident, John Anderson, isn't impressed with North Park being considered a bike friendly neighborhood, North Park – San Diego’s Weak Excuse for a Bike Friendly Place.
  • Peninsula Community Planning Board seeks to add more parks and a bicycle connection between "the Portuguese Hall to Cabrillo National Monument along Avenida de Portugal, Canon Street and Catalina Boulevard featuring additional landscaping and safe pedestrian and bicycle paths."
  • In a story about the mid-city bike corridor through Talmadge, one commenter doesn't want more bike lanes. But remains curiously silent about SANDAG's plans to keep funding freeways.
  • Amgen California will return to San Diego next year.
  • Bicyclist in critical condition after crash on Mission Bay Drive

San Diego County

  • Caltrans plans to buy part of Manchester Ave. strawberry fields for a Park and Ride. It's a miniscule part of the $6.5 billion I-5 widening plan Caltrans has cooked up despite also admitting that more roads mean more traffic.
  • Many bike projects are scheduled to begin construction in the new year.
  • The National City segment of implementing the Bayshore Bikeway is experiencing some headwinds
  • Imperial Beach is doing a lot of bike friendly things and becoming a safer city too.
  • In Coronado City Problems: the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition wrote an open letter asking for reasonableness. Coronado resident writes a letter about the bike advocate infiltration.
  • In Encinitas: a reasonable letter asking for more than the status quo half measures.
  • Only in Southern California, do we have a story that starts as follows, "[o]ne of Carlsbad’s busiest coastal parking lots...". Fear not since the story is a few weeks old and so the parking lot is back in business.
  • In another part of Carlsbad, plans for a bike park and more were brought up at a recent community meeting.
  • El Camino Bike Shop is collecting used bicycles for a Holiday Basket program
  • At least one County Supervisor, Greg Cox, gets it. Here is a great profile about him.
  • City of Oceanside has installed speed monitors, relying on driver's behavior instead of proven design to ensure road safety.
  • Painted lines don't protect bicycle riders from drivers from driving into them. Hope the three riders who were struck are back on the bike soon.
  • Annika Walden of Encinitas wants safer bike lanes. Darius Degher pens an ernest essay on how bicycling will save us.
  • Carlsbad's Thomas Arnold gripes about unused bike racks. Maybe instead of complaining, he could consider riding his bicycle and locking his bike to said racks and inspire his neighbors and friends or give him a parking space to someone who cannot ride a bicycle?
  • Carlsbad may get roundabouts.
  • Twelve-year old Oceanside boy killed in collision with pickup while riding his bike to school. His family needs help. Residents say the stretch where he was killed is unsafe.
  • For the first time, the state is asking local agencies to use traffic safety grant money to help reduce the rising number of pedestrians and cyclists who are being injured or killed on California’s roadways
  • Cyclist badly injured by Escondido hit-run driver

California

More news next week. Putting this together took a while.


San Diego Commuters: 30th and Upas

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In an effort to document the varied riders that currently ride in San Diego here is the first in a set of photographic profiles for your viewing pleasure. Leave a comment to let us know where we can get some good shots of riders riding to work (or for daily errands).


San Diego County Spends $36M To Give Employees Free Parking

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors recently cut the ribbon to officially open a new $36,000,000 parking garage at Cedar and Kettner in Little Italy.  The garage has 640 spaces, built at a cost of $56,250 per space.  The garage will primarily be used for free parking for county employees and will also be available for paid public parking use on nights and weekends.

Here’s a laudatory video from the ribbon-cutting:

Supervisor Diane Jacobs noted “this truly is the best looking parking garage in the entire region and the most needed parking garage”. The “stalls are a little wider than you’ll find in most commercial parking structures”.

The Little Italy neighborhood is home to many of San Diego’s most highly regarded restaurants including Bracero, Buon Appetito, Monello, Ironside, Davanti Enoteca, Juniper and Ivy, and many others. Most of the restaurants have little, or zero, private parking provided. The area has also seen tremendous growth in the number of residential units in recent years. The result has been a thriving neighborhood that is among the most vibrant places in the entire county. A large part of the enjoyment of Little Italy stems from the many people and attractive buildings present – I doubt India Street would be improved by the addition of a massive parking garage. In recent years the need for parking of unused vehicles has been further reduced due to the explosive growth of taxi-hailing apps like Lyft and Uber.

The new county parking garage is the second portion of the “Waterfront Park project” that created a 12-acre park across Harbor Drive from San Diego Bay, replacing 8 acres of surface level parking lots adjacent the County Administration Building.  That project cost $49.4 million dollars after an initial project cost estimate of $44.2M with $19.7M for building the park, $18.5M for building underground parking, and $6M for design and administration costs.

In total, between the two projects $54.5M was spent on moving parking spaces and $18.5M was spent on the actual park that people enjoy.  This is excluding the $5.2M of difference from the original estimate to the actual construction costs and the $6M of design and administration costs.  Those cost breakdowns yield a result of 75% of funds used to move spots for empty cars and 25% of funds used to build a park.  For purposes of this article let’s assume the admin and cost over-run figures split on the same lines.  The vast majority of the funds used for these joint projects was for moving parking spaces, not for building a park.

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Here is the before photo – this is how San Diego uses prime bayfront real estate. Shake your head.
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This is how far the parking spots moved, for more than $50 million.

This project was sold as a project to build a great park – it would seem fitting if most of the funds were actually used to build a great park.  Instead we spent 75% of the funds to relocate parking spaces, not creating new spaces but moving existing parking spaces.  251 spaces moved approximately 15 feet, they were undergrounded in the same location as the previous surface level lots.

To boot, the county demolished an historic building in Little Italy to make room for the large new parking garage.  The Star Builders Supply Company building was built in 1911 and added to the county list of historic buildings in 1991.  County supervisors unanimously voted to demolish the building.  It’s now gone but you can enjoy the below video of the beautiful piece of San Diego history that has now been erased like so many others.

From the total 891 parking spots that were moved, 71.8% were moved about 1-2 blocks east from their previous location.  28.2% were moved about 15 feet underground.  To accomplish this feat, county taxpayers spent $54.5 million dollars.  As enjoyable as the the new park is and a huge improvement to the ugly surface parking lots perhaps it would have been better to save that money or spend it on a better use.  To move so many parked cars such a small distance seems a pyrrhic victory.  A small consolation might be that the total number of parking spots went from 1,200 in the surface lots to 891 in the new underground and multi-level parking garages, a net reduction of 25.75%.  We could have spent even more money if we moved all of them!  A legitimate question would be if the previous 1,200 spots or the new 891 spots are actually needed or not. But as so often happens when it comes to accommodating automobiles, too much is never enough and no cost is too high.  More lanes on I-5 for $6 billion? Of course!  More parking lots in Balboa Park? Of course!  Analysis of the actual demand and cost comes far behind the populist appeal of free goodies for motor vehicles.  The environmental impacts of our car culture is even further down the priority list than our dollars.

Enjoy the Waterfront Park (aka Parking Lot Relocation Park); it’s a great place.  Building beautiful things is something a great city does.  I’m proud that San Diego built it.  In total, though, this project was a massive use of taxpayer dollars to move parking spots a small distance – not to build a great public park.  They are distinct items and taxpayers did not need to spend tens of millions to provide a tax-free employment perk that most employees, government-employed or not, do not enjoy.  We also did not need to use prime real estate to do so.  Taxpayers must demand better stewardship of public funds and assets.

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Previously posted here.


A Bike Route Network Appears in Old Town

Since the first shared lane markings appeared in Old Town about four years ago, some more changes have slowly appeared making Old Town, California's birth place, just a little bit more bike friendly than it has been for decades. Below is a drawing of the start of a bike network starting at the Old Town Transit Station.

 

Nearly four years after the first sharrow markings appeared in Old Town, a small network of bike lanes are beginning to grow.
Nearly four years after the first sharrow markings appeared in Old Town, a small network of bike lanes are beginning to grow.

Below are a few photos of the bike route from Old Town and into Middletown (at the bottom of Washington St)

View toward Old Town Transit Station, a transit hub at Congress and Taylor Streets. Congress St has shared lane markings(sharrows)

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View toward Old Town Transit Station, a transit hub at Congress and Taylor Streets. Congress St has shared lane markings(sharrows). Photo: Kyle Carscaden

And yes, Juan Street (one of the routes up to the Central Mid-City mesa) is in terrible shape. The good news? It's finally getting fixed.

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Juan Street is terrible and finally getting fixed. Photo: Kyle Carscaden

Going up or down the steep Juan Street will soon be better. Today it is pretty terrible.

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Photo: Kyle Carscaden

From the city's new City of San Diego - Juan Street Improvement Project facebook page: "Recent activity on the Juan Street Improvement project... newly poured concrete on the northbound side from Taylor to Mason Street and grading of the new road, curb and gutter between Mason and Twiggs. All businesses and parking lots are open during the project. Visit historic Old Town!" Hooray for more communicative city departments!

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Photo: City of San Diego

Our favorite hi-viz wearing individuals pour concrete and repave city streets.

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Photo: City of San Diego

Besides Presidio, the other option to get up to the mesa is either along the speedy Washington Street (posted speed limit is 45 mph, if anyone actually pays attention - law enforcement help is more than welcome to address this safety issue), or along Presidio through Presidio Park. But another option is along San Diego Avenue and up Pringle Street which parallels Washington (it is steep, no question, but a little bit quieter)

First, one would ride north on Congress following the sharrow symbols

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Photo: Kyle Carscaden

Then you'd turn onto San Diego Avenue where a portion of the street has striped bike lanes:

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Photo: Kyle Carscaden

While the entire city of San Diego needs a lot of work to make it a world-class city to ride a bicycle in, it is gratifying to see changes happen even if it comes at a very (very) slow pace.


Bike SD – The Board Retreat

Reposted from the S&G Endeavors Blog.

If you missed it earlier this week, you may want to go back to revisit the first post in this blog series. You may recall the story of Bike SD, a bicycle advocacy organization in San Diego. Last week, we learned about how they launched about three years ago, grew quickly, defined their brand, and how they desired to transform into a strategically-effective and more professional powerhouse to serve all people who bike in San Diego. BikeSD: Working to be World Class

Building on the willingness of the board of directors to use their gumption and passion to help take BikeSD forward, they embarked, in February 2015, on a process to craft a concrete strategic plan with clear actions and initiatives to take Bike SD to the next level as an organization. The group was ready to really dive in and to have a dialogue centered around what was next.

The excitement from Sam Ollinger, who was responsible for leading the organization, was also compelling. She knew that this process would leave them with a clear shared strategic plan to move forward. The process for bringing organizations together to create a shared strategic plan is unique to each organization. Let’s examine some of the events that occurred for BikeSD as part of the process of planning and hosting their retreat.

Designing the Retreat
Over the course of three virtual conversations, the design team, comprised of 5-7 board members representing the whole system, met to design the conversation and identify the overall purpose & outcomes that they wanted for the retreat.   r1

The most important part of creating any type of event like this is to be clear with the purpose and outcomes for bringing people together. A clear purpose and outcomes ensures that you are clear with your reason for meeting and what you want to achieve, together as participants, during the meeting. The following are the purpose and outcomes, as crafted by the design team:

Purpose
The purpose of our retreat is to come together as a committed board and key stakeholders to both grow bicycling in San Diego and to ensure that we have a strong, dedicated, leadership that buy-in to and will support our determined course for BikeSD.
Outcomes
We will create a common understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing BikeSD with respect to advocacy, political engagement, membership engagement, funding, working with other organizations, and other issues.
We will foster a sense of unity among the board and other stakeholders of BikeSD, creating an environment of cooperation with a common purpose around a new strategic framework.
We will leave with a viable strategy for the success of a strong BikeSD, which creates organizational sustainability; transforms cycling in our city; and, has prioritized, measurable, and concrete action plans to ensure that we are true to the vision.
We will leave with the knowledge that we have all been part of the decision-making process, are focused, and know what we have to do to succeed.

In addition to identifying the overall direction for the retreat, the design team members worked, with the help of S & G, to:

  • Ensure the retreat was designed to make the best use of their time;
  • Identify strategies to ensure enough people would come and share their wisdom; and,
  • Design the right conversations and retreat experience that resulted in achieving their aims of the retreat.

Holding the Retreat
r2On April 17 and 18, the board members of BikeSD met for their retreat and had great success with their work together. Friday night kicked off with a collaborative activity, where participants introduced themselves and the group was able to bond over a more cohesive visioning exercise for the organization. On Saturday, the board and some key additional stakeholders continued to build on their visioning from the night before, by brainstorming around specific areas of potential action, confirming a strategic framework to guide the organization, and creating specific action plans to achieve their goals.

Through evaluations, participants reported that the energy in the room was great. The dialogue they had on the projects that they felt mattered most was so moving, it was difficult to get through the scheduled discussions. Other successes with the retreat, reflected in evaluations and follow-up interviews, included:

  • Focusing on our priorities
  • Becoming aware of new ideas, strategies
  • Realization of what it will take to move Bike SD to the next level
  • The future structure of BikeSD as an organization

Following the retreat, the executive director also met with some key additional stakeholders, allies, and funders to report back on the retreat and incorporate any further feedback into the final strategic framework and action plans. Over the next years, Bike SD will be working on just some of the following action, including:

  • Increasing and targeting Advocacy Campaigns to increase cycling in the city of San Diego;
  • Encouraging frequent riding through events, organized rides and outreach efforts;
  • Integrating biking into the San Diego identity and everyday activities of people who bike in the city; and,
  • Increasing public & political support for bicycling.

r3Through all of the collaborative planning work described above, Bike SD had its key stakeholders had charted an actionable course for success, and through our follow-up discussions, we’re already hearing about great success relating back to the retreat and its design.

Stay tuned to the third blog, next week, when we hear directly from their Executive Director about their recent successes.

And be sure to contact Jeremy for an initial conversation soon, so that S & G can help your organization or company achieve actionable change in 2016 and beyond.