District 2 Elections Candidate Questionnaire: Lorie Zapf

For San Diego to compete in the global economy and provide the safety and quality of life that San Diegans deserve, our leaders must embrace a 21st Century vision for our streets that puts well-being of people first. BikeSD supports candidates for public office who will champion safe, complete and livable streets.

As our new mayor was the councilmember for District 2, this council seat is now vacant (and temporarily occupied by Ed Harris). Four candidates are running for the District 2 council seat: Sarah Boot, Jim Morrison, Mark Schwartz, and current Councilmember in District 6, Lorie Zapf (now residing in the newly re-districted District 2).

Below is the responses received from Lorie Zapf in response to the BikeSD questionnaire.


Councilmember Lorie Zapf riding at the most recent CicloSDias. Photo: Zapf campaign
Councilmember Lorie Zapf riding at the most recent CicloSDias. Photo: Zapf campaign

Do you ride a bicycle in San Diego for any purpose?

One of my favorite things to do in my free time is to ride bikes with my family. Since my daughters are still fairly young, we mostly ride along Class I bike paths or trails, usually around Mission Bay or along the San Diego River.

During my first term on the City Council, I have been pushing for better, safer access for bicyclists, whether they ride on City streets or on designated bike paths. I am proud of my work with the San Diego River Conservancy and the San Diego River Park foundation to create one contiguous bike and walking path from the mountains in East County all the way out to the beach. Later this month I will be participating in the ribbon-cutting for the San Diego River Multi-Use Pathway Project, along with Mayor Faulconer and Councilmember Sherman.

Please share your impressions and experiences of bicycling in San Diego.

San Diego’s awareness and focus on bicycle safety has come a long way during my first term, but there is still a lot of work to be done. During the past three years the City has implemented sharrows, green lanes, bike corrals, CicloSDias, and we’re well on our way to having an amazing bike share program.

We have some great Class I bike paths that give riders a sense of being one with nature and allow them to enjoy the outdoors and beautiful weather we have here. On the other hand, I have also ridden on our City streets and seen how some of our Class II bike lanes come to a sudden end with no connection. This is why I put forward a Resolution to Prioritize Bicycle Infrastructure Improvements to Enhance Public Safety. My resolution was unanimously approved by the City Council, but the portion my office drafted about improving bike infrastructure near freeway on and off ramps was removed.

While the resolution did achieve some of my intended goals including prioritizing projects that enhance connectivity and improve ridership, directing city staff to plan and develop bicycle-friendly projects, and establishing staff positions for bicycle projects, I was disappointed that the City Council missed an opportunity to send a strong message to Caltrans about the importance of fixing where freeways connect to surface streets.

What will it take for you to ride to work at least once a week to work at City Hall? What are the bottlenecks that you foresee you can help eliminate to make it safe for you to ride to work?

Sometimes for events that are out in the district close to my home, I am able to bike there and I really enjoy it. In my younger days when I lived in Lake Tahoe and Huntington Beach, I commuted to work by bike regularly. I wish that this was still something I could commit to doing, but unfortunately my commute would take more than one hour each way by bike, and that is not feasible with my schedule. This is a great reason why I’m such an avid supporter of the upcoming Mid-Coast Corridor Trolley extension, and why I’m pushing so hard for SANDAG to include bike lockers and safe access for bicyclists to navigate their way to and from the new stations. The planned Morena station is a quick 10-minute ride from my house, and this would make it easy to bike to the trolley and take the trolley to City Hall.

The City has not established a goal to increase the percentage of trips made by bicycle in the city’s newly adopted Bicycle Master Plan. What will you do when elected to establish that goal within the plan’s implementation strategy?

When I’m out talking to the community about bikes, the most common reason I am given for why people choose not to commute by bike is safety. It isn’t enough to have a Bicycle Master Plan and double our bicycle infrastructure if the public doesn’t feel safe out on the streets. I’ve worked in District 6 to make conditions safer for bicyclists, and I will continue to do that for District 2.

As the Chair of the Committee on Smart Growth and Land Use, I’ve been working tirelessly to ensure that the City is on track with implementing our Bicycle Master Plan, and have requested that Streets Division update the my committee on their efforts. I also invited the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition to give their input so we can work together on best practices and common-sense implementation, so that the improvements that we make are really the best investments for cyclists.

In addition, education about bikes will be a huge component of increasing trips made by bicycle. I was pleased to allocate money from my office budget to help events like CicloSDias, which is a fantastic way to promote biking and raise awareness. I want to see events like this in every neighborhood in the City. I have also been working with SANDAG to ensure the Mid-Coast trolley stops have pedestrian and bicycle access to locations such as Mission Bay and Mission Beach.

When DecoBike finally arrives in San Diego this summer, I anticipate that we will see substantial increases in bicycle trips made in the service area. I have strongly supported establishing a bike share program because it will not only raise awareness, but help close the “last mile” problem for people who use public transportation.

During my first term I have worked with bike advocacy groups to bring attention to bicycling and bike infrastructure. I firmly believe that, by continuing to make progress on the initiatives we have been working on, and by bringing in new ideas, we can market and advertise bicycling as a viable transportation option to locals, and substantially increase the number of trips made by bicycle in San Diego.

Do you support a wide, continuous, physically separated green bikeway the full length of Nimitz Boulevard?

I support a separated bikeway along Nimitz Boulevard. It is not only an important route for daily commuters, but also has great potential for visitors and tourists by connecting our beach communities to our Port, Harbor Drive, and Downtown.

Ideally, that street is a perfect candidate for study and improvements by The Green Lane Project, which was one of the reasons why I submitted a letter of support for our application. While San Diego was not selected this year, as the District 2 Councilmember, I will fight to establish a safe bike path that would connect a number of our beaches, schools, and parks.

Our biggest obstacle, like so many other City projects, is identifying funding. In my current Council District, my office was able to identify funds from the Balboa Avenue Revitalization Project to address some bicycle safety issues along Balboa Avenue. I made that request a few years ago, and staff has begun working on adding green lanes and ground sensors so bikes can trigger streetlights and cyclists don’t have to run red lights.

I am already aware that SANDAG has prioritized safer bike access on Nimitz through the Early Action Program, but I believe it can be possible to move up this project on the priority list by having the City provide the funding for the design and the environmental impact reports. As a current Councilmember, I already have the knowledge and experience to find funds for bicycle improvements on Nimitz, as well as throughout the rest of the district, which will be a priority for my next term.

Implementing Protected Bike Lanes (cycletracks) on Nimitz Boulevard has been on our priority list since 2012. The city has been promising to put in green bike lanes (without any protected facilities) in conjunction with the resurfacing effort which has been delayed at least four times. What will you do to ensure this doesn’t happen any more in District 2?

First and foremost, I have fought to make sure our city is fiscally responsible, and during my 3 ½ years on the council, we have been able to continually improve the City’s finances. This makes it possible for us to go back to providing our core services, including street paving, which directly impacts our ability to implement bike infrastructure. By continuing to find savings in the city, we can focus on making sure our streets get paved, and that they get paved on time with an awareness to cycle tracks and bike safety in mind.

I have seen firsthand some of the possible areas of short-term improvements on Nimitz, with the permanent goal being Class I bike paths along the entirety of the road. Just along Nimitz, I am most interested in the connecting ramps to Famosa Blvd, and the ramp farther down connecting West Point Loma Blvd. I will ask Traffic Division for an analysis, with the intention of implementing green lanes at those particular sections, and making the ramp to West Point Loma bike-only, so that cars would make a right turn at the lighted intersection. Chatsworth and Nimitz is another intersection that could benefit from short-term improvements, especially for our youth commuting to and from Dana Middle School. Lastly, I believe that most of the lanes along Nimitz are wide enough and could be narrowed through lane restriping, which would provide enough room for buffered bike lanes.

As we continue to increase funding for road repairs I will be more than happy to work with our Multi-Modal Section in our Traffic Engineering Department to ensure the community’s input is heard make progress on Nimitz. I have always fought for the streets in my district and I will continue to do so.

One of the San Diego’s biggest challenges to safer bicycling is the freeway merges that are under the purview of Caltrans. What will you do in your term as councilmember to ensure the redesign and construction of at least one freeway ramp for the safety of all road users, including drivers?

Freeway interchanges are big expensive projects that ideally should have initially been built with bicyclists and pedestrians in mind. During my current term, the City Council authorized the design of a new freeway interchange off the 163. I was the only City Councilmember to ask the engineering firm to consider the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians when they create the designs for this new interchange.

Starting this year, San Diego has an incredible asset when it comes to dealing with state departments and agencies. District 2’s own State Assemblymember Toni Atkins will be sworn in as the Speaker of the Assembly on May 12th. I am planning on scheduling a meeting with Speaker Atkins to discuss Caltrans issues following her new role. I have a history of working with our state representatives on both sides of the aisle to improve road safety in San Diego. In 2012, I partnered with then-Assemblymember Nathan Fletcher and Senator Marty Block to reform the San Diego Service Authority for Freeway Emergencies (SAFE). Our legislation freed up more than $12 million dollars for public safety and motorist aid. I am confident that I will be able to work with Speaker Atkins to make progress in dealing with Caltrans.

I understand that changes to freeway interchanges are complicated and expensive undertakings, but they are a necessity, particularly when we’re talking about the safety of those who use our streets. We shouldn’t be asking bicyclists and pedestrians to risk their lives crossing these freeway merges, and I look forward to partnering with the Assembly Speaker to bring this issue to the top of Caltrans’ priority list.

If you could wave a magic wand, what does your vision of a more bicycle friendly San Diego look like?

I would like for San Diego not only be creative in pioneering infrastructure that works well for our unique neighborhoods, but also to adopt the best practices implemented in other bicycle-friendly cities. I would like to see more barrier-protected bike lanes on our streets, even if it is something as simple as a curb-barrier, or having a bike lane in between a sidewalk and a line of cars that are parallel parked. While we are never going to get rid of the high-speed surface streets like Balboa Avenue, we should be looking at median bike lanes like Washington D.C has implemented along Pennsylvania Avenue.

New housing developments and infill development should include bike infrastructure and access, as should all growth in public transportation. I want BIDs, public buildings, and office buildings to have bike racks and bike corrals, so bicyclists have somewhere safe to lock up their bikes when working, shopping or eating. I also want to work with Mayor Faulconer to stop the practice by Purchasing and Contracting of leaving out the bike lanes and gutters when streets are resurfaced. When we pay to resurface a street, it should be for the benefit of all users, regardless of their mode of transportation.

San Diego is the perfect candidate to be a world-class bicycling City. I believe we have a Mayor that shares that vision, and I know he and I will work well together for the benefit of the residents and tourists in District 2.

Below is a map of District 2. If you live in the shaded area, you should be paying attention and getting ready to vote.

To learn more about Councilmember Lorie Zapf, visit the campaign website or follow her on twitter. The BikeSD endorsement policy is available here.