Mayor Kevin Faulconer: I want San Diego to be considered one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world.

May is National Bike Month, sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists, which gives communities everywhere “an opportunity to celebrate the unique power of the bicycle and the many reasons we ride”.  To celebrate Bike Month, we wanted to profile some notable San Diegans who ride. So we started at the top with the mayor. Mayor Kevin Faulconer was gracious to share his thoughts about bicycling in San Diego. Below are the questions and his responses.

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San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. Photo: Mayor’s office

BikeSD: What is your name and what do you do?
Mayor Kevin Faulconer: San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

BikeSD: BikeSD’s vision is to transform San Diego into the world’s best city for bicycling. Do you believe San Diego can be the world’s best city for bicycling?
Mayor Kevin Faulconer: Absolutely. We have the best weather in the world giving us nearly endless opportunities for San Diegans to get outside and live active lifestyles. That’s a big reason why we have such a large community of avid bicyclists and recreational riders.

BikeSD: What are the top three challenges that need to be addressed in order for San Diego to be a top city for bicycling?
Mayor Kevin Faulconer: The top three challenges are safety, accessibility and opportunity. As mayor, I’ve begun to address all three.

On safety, I’ve launched a plan to repair 1,000 miles of streets over the next five years, which will create smoother roads for automobiles and bikes alike. The repair effort gives us an opportunity to restripe our roadways as well as create bike routes like the buffered bike lanes on Fourth and Fifth avenues that won an “Orchid” award from the San Diego Architectural Foundation this year. We’re also adding more “sharrows” to our streets reminding motorists to share the road with cyclists.

On accessibility, we are stepping up our outreach efforts, letting San Diegans understand that the City of San Diego wants to be a top city for cycling. We are creating information materials, sharing resources and coordinating with agencies throughout the region to link resources like SANDAG’s Bayshore Bikeway to bicycle routes leading into the City. We have also installed 142 bicycle racks throughout the City so far in the current fiscal year.

On opportunity, the City’s first bike-sharing program – Decobike – launched earlier this year and, when fully implemented, will have 180 stations with 1,800 bikes available in neighborhoods throughout the city. The City is working in partnership with Decobike to create new routes that will attract more and more San Diegans to enjoy the recreation, health and environmental benefits biking provides. Among the first is the Downtown Bike Loop, which includes an easy access map found at http://www.sandiego.gov/tsw/pdf/bikeloopmapbrochure.pdf. The loop highlights many of the wonderful places to bike to in the core of San Diego.

BikeSD: What would you like to see happen to encourage more San Diegans everyday for everyday trips?
Mayor Kevin Faulconer: We need to improve our infrastructure to encourage cycling, such as adding more Class 1 bike lanes and sharrows to other roads. We also need to make sure the transitions from protected bike lanes are easy to navigate and welcome cyclists to areas of town they may have not yet explored. That may mean better outreach, better signage, better striping or some combination of all three, depending on a neighborhood’s need.

BikeSD: How has your view of bicycle riders changed over the years?
Mayor Kevin Faulconer: It has changed significantly since I’ve taken up cycling myself. As I’ve spent more and more time on the road with my bike, I’ve become a much more watchful driver and keep an eye out for cyclists. From a rider’s perspective, I also know you always have to have a defensive posture whenever there are cars around because you can’t assume that everyone is paying attention.

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Mayor Kevin Faulconer (right) riding with SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman. Photo: Mayor’s office

BikeSD: Do you ride a bicycle? Where do you like to ride and why do you ride?
Mayor Kevin Faulconer: Yes. This past weekend I rode the Bayshore Bikeway with some friends. It was a 24-mile ride and it was beautiful morning out.

BikeSD: Will you commit to joining the National Bike Challenge and encourage more San Diegans to ride during the challenge (5/1/15 – 9/30/15)?
Mayor Kevin Faulconer: Yes. I signed up yesterday and will do all that can to encourage as many San Diegans as possible to join the challenge as well.

BikeSD: Describe one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had on a ride?
Mayor Kevin Faulconer: I spent five months in 2013 training for the Million Dollar Challenge (a weeklong 620-mile ride from San Francisco to San Diego) to raise money for the Challenged Athletes Foundation. It was all about camaraderie and meeting people from all walks of life who enjoy cycling and being outdoors. It was a heck of a lot of fun, but I wasn’t able to participate in the actual ride because the special mayoral election came up.

BikeSD: Do you ride to work? If not, what would need to change to make that happen regularly?
Mayor Kevin Faulconer: Unfortunately, my hectic schedule doesn’t allow me to bike as much as I would like and that includes biking to work.

BikeSD: What is your vision for bicycling in San Diego?
Mayor Kevin Faulconer: I want San Diego to be considered one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world. We know we have one of the best climates – one that I am working to protect through my Climate Action Plan and its call for even more bike facilities. We know we have people who love to bike and we know that it’s a sport growing in popularity. Our biggest task is to put in the infrastructure that allows and encourages people to ride bikes more often.

Thank you Mayor Faulconer, for taking the time to answer these questions and for supporting bicycling.

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