Tonight: UCPG on the Coastal Rail Trail

At 6:00 pm tonight, the University Community Planning Group (UCPG) will select a preferred alternative for the Coastal Rail Trail Project. We ask that the board vote to recommend Alternative 2 as the preferred alternative, as detailed in our letter to the UCPG Chair below:

Dear UCPG Chair,

I write on behalf of BikeSD, a non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to transforming San Diego into a world-class city for bicycling.

I understand that the University Community Planning Group will be evaluating the Coastal Rail Trail at this week’s meeting.

We ask that your board vote to recommend Alternative 2 as the preferred alternative. Our reasoning is simple: it ranks well ahead of the other four alternatives as evaluated by the City of San Diego’s own consultants. This route connects UCSD with a huge population base and has all the environmental approvals. We want you to hold Caltrans and the City of San Diego accountable to their promise to build this alternative to ensure that residents, commuters, and other travelers have a safe and inviting route to get to and from their destinations.

Alternatives 5, 6, and 7 should be removed from consideration. In a city with limited open space, care should be given to ensure that we preserve our few accessible canyons. Let’s not ruin Rose Canyon or Roselle Canyon in an attempt to provide a bicycle facility that is going to be expensive, invasive to our natural assets, and not welcomed by the University City community.

If the City absolutely requires a second “preferred alternative”, we recommend Alternative 4 be carried into environmental analysis. It is a direct route that connects UCSD and is not as invasive as Alternatives 5,6, or 7.

The City has spent the last decade implementing only 4% of the 2002-adopted Bicycle Master Plan. Of that, over $10 million was spent on a 0.2 mile bicycle/pedestrian bridge over Lake Hodges. Although this is an asset and a source of pride in the local community, it failed to address the needs established in the Bicycle Master Plan to provide facilities where they would give a great return on investment and meet the needs identified by the bicycle-riding public. We want to avoid similar short-sighted attempts to spend valuable public funds to address a connectivity issue that could otherwise be addressed with fewer public funds and with more support from the community.

From an investment standpoint, spending only $4 million to connect the UCSD community to points north and south should be prioritized above alternatives with costs approaching $20 million. We typically advocate for protected bicycle facilities within existing road right-of-way by realigning existing vehicle traffic (such as realigning parking or placing barriers between vehicle and bicycle traffic). The funds saved by choosing Alternative 2 can be used to build cost-effective bicycle facilities in communities that have been neglected by the city for decades.

I hope that you will seriously consider our comments and reach out if you have specific questions or concerns.

Sinceramente,

Samantha Ollinger
Executive Director, BikeSD

 

Update:  The UCPG unanimously voted to approve Alternative 2. Here is a map showing the alignments that I prepared for my own reference – Sam