biking in L.A.

22 Apr

- CicloSDias 2 was a few weeks back, one day after the Bikes and Beers ride from my previous post. I’m biased toward North Park so I preferred the inaugural event there, but it was still great to see lots of people out on bikes along Garnet and Cass Streets:



With DecoBike launching soon, and with so many of its stations downtown (station map/list/graphics), how about putting the next CicloSDias there?  Give participants free rides and watch those membership numbers take off.

Unfortunately, CicloSDias paled in comparison to the astounding number of bicyclists and participants at CicLAvia on Wilshire Boulevard the next weekend.  I really enjoyed the emphasis on Wilshire’s architecture, which I’d never fully appreciated before while driving in heavy traffic:

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We also enjoyed seeing the Wiltern, El Rey and other theaters along the route.  For lunch and craft beer, we walked a block up Vermont to Beer Belly in Koreatown, where the parking lot was overflowing with bikes.  After that we rode the rest of the route back to our hotel a block from Wilshire downtown.

The rest of the LA trip was also fun – on our way up we got to see the impressive bike infrastructure in Long Beach, and we also biked over to the Arts District in eastern downtown LA, home to the first Stumptown Roasters in southern California:


The Arts District is undergoing a big change, with upscale restaurants and a market having moved in (complete with a dozen EV charging stations in its lot).  More pictures from the trip


Back in San Diego, the Port of SD had a good presentation last week on the future of our region’s bay front, and how it’s often disconnected from the neighborhoods that surround it.  Some interesting ideas included an “Emerald Necklace” of parks ringing the waterfront, parks that run perpendicular to the bay front to draw neighborhood residents to the water, reducing physical barriers to the bay, and incorporating a grand, pedestrian-friendly boulevard.  This is just the beginning of the planning process, and the Port has a survey you can take to provide your long-range vision input.

Across the street from B Street Pier where the forum was held, Lane Field is set to finally shed its parking lot status with the approval of two hotels on the north end of the lot, and a 150-foot green space setback:

And just east of Lane Field, MCASD is holding Public2 this weekend:

…a celebratory reopening of the renovated North Plaza and One America Plaza, directly across the street from MCASD’s downtown location.

This free two-day event will feature music and dance performances, exhibition tours, art-making activities, silent discos powered by Silent Storm, artist workshops and more to encourage the community to “take back” this public space as a communal locale for gathering and creating.

Over in Little Italy, Ironside from the Craft & Commerce folks is open on India street, and the interior pictures on Eater look really cool.  The owners’ attention to design details really shows again here.

We watched the Padres at Petco Park Sunday and they’ve really stepped up their local craft beer selection – there’s a new Green Flash stand beyond the outfield, a new Mission Brewery stand inside, another Ballast Point bar, Draft, and a Stone bar we didn’t get to.  And the Goose Island and Kona stands are nice additions too, although the latter was there last year, I think.

Afterward we had dinner at Lucky Liu’s across from World Market, from the Celadon folks; hopefully this will put a dent in the lack of quality Chinese places downtown.  Why is Chinese cuisine so often reduced to Americanized slop served up in depressing buffets and MSG-laden lunch specials?  Here, the pork buns were one of many highlights (as they were at the recently-shuttered French Concession in Hillcrest – same owner) and it was good to see plenty of vegetarian options on the menu.  Once they get their liquor license they should be all set.

Two more sightings downtown: Union Tap (out of Encinitas) coming to the former Donovan’s Seafood spot on 5th, and Bottega Americano set for the Thomas Jefferson Building.

Coming up this weekend:

  • Non-profit Community Housing Works will be providing an update on the Howard & Texas St senior facility project at open houses on Saturday, April 26th at 10 am & Wednesday, April 30th at 6pm.  Both will be held in the Lafayette Hotel Essex Room.
  • Earth Day is Sunday at Balboa Park – come by the Circulate SD booth and sign your support for the Uptown Bike Corridors, as we start our Livable Streets advocacy campaign.
  • Creek to Bay cleanup is Saturday – volunteer for a canyon cleanup
  • Adams Ave Unplugged returns Saturday and Sunday
  • Art Walk in Little Italy
  • And finally, say goodbye to the Ken Theater here in Kensington.  Please, no fabric store conversion!

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bikes and beers

11 Apr

  • The new County Administration Center Park is almost done, and a grand opening party is set for May 10th.  This is going to be a big plus for the bay front as two massive parking lots get replaced with a public park.  The Reader has an event map.   Much of the parking will be moved to a new garage at Cedar and Kettner – 10 stories, $24 million.  I know I’m beating a dead horse here, but with 7 of those stories above ground, it’s another structure that couldn’t get built in Hillcrest under their current height limit.  Meanwhile supporters of the height limit voice their displeasure about a lack of parking in the neighborhood.
  • Belmont Park is getting a makeover.  The UT provides 3 pages of details, including new bar/restaurant South Mission Draft with 70 taps and extensive boardwalk seating:

    South Mission Draft that will showcase a selection of 70 craft beers on draft and 100 bottled beer selections and will serve American pub fare. The 275-seat restaurant will have an industrial feel with exposed metal beams and polished concrete floors, but a big attraction will be a huge walk-in glass cooler stocked with 120 beer kegs and bottled beer.

    Taking advantage of its location just off the boardwalk, the restaurant, unlike its earlier incarnation, will have large roll-up glass doors fronting the ocean and outdoor seating that will run for 130 feet.

  • Another Egyptian Quarter event is planned for that section of Park Boulevard at University; Finding Nemo is the scheduled movie for Saturday, May 24th
  • Uptown News had a good update on the status of the Uptown Bike Corridor on University… I’ve added a map of blocks identified by the Uptown Parking District for potential angled parking conversion.  I’ve asked that reverse-angle parking (safer for bicyclists) be considered, since it’s been implemented elsewhere in the city, and in many other cities around the country… BikeSD is doing a walk/bike tour of Hillcrest Sunday at 10AM, departing from the Joyce Beers Community Center in Uptown Shopping District… The bike improvements and related road diet for 4th/5th Avenues south of Laurel were supposed to be completed in January; according to the new mayor’s staff, it’s now looking like they’ll debut in June:

    The bike improvements are currently finishing up the community outreach phase.  Depending on the scope of community input, the plans will go to the Street Division at the end of April or in May for implementation.  Typically construction starts about a month after plans go to the Street Division.

  • The map (fixed; more info) of proposed downtown Deco bike stations shows a whole bunch downtown and not a lot in Uptown.  I’m disappointed that the network doesn’t extend to Adams Avenue in this phase, but I understand DecoBike’s decision to focus on tourist dollars at this point.
  • San Diego Museum of Art’s Art Alive is this weekend and the UT has a writeup:

    This year’s rotunda designer is Carlos Franco of Hillcrest’s Green Fresh Florals. His inspiration is the museum’s Spanish Baroque architecture, and the area will be designed to look like the gardens of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain.

  • In Golden Hill, a long-delayed 27-rowhome project has been approved, and big improvements to 25th St have begun:

    $1.7 million will go towards making the heart of Golden Hill safer and more accessible, more pedestrian and bike friendly – including wider sidewalks – and something called reverse-angle parking: vehicles required to back into a space so drivers can easily see the bicyclists going by in the new bike lanes.

  • Last week’s inaugural Beer & Bikes event, a 26-mile trip to local breweries with 600+ bicyclists participating, was a great time.  Thanks to all the breweries who participated – the pictures below show just how packed they were.  I rode with our neighbor friends Matt and Teresa, finally got to meet John Anderson who did an awesome job putting the event together, and got to thank Todd Gloria for bringing the SANDAG bike lane projects to San Diego.  For the first time I rode the San Diego River trail all the way to Ocean Beach.  After that I caught up with former North Park Main Streeter (and now city employee) Liz Studebaker before ascending the brutal hill out of OB.  Up top I met Blind Lady Ale House owner and cycling advocate Jeff Motch, and then at Stone Brewing in Liberty Station we met cross-country rider Mike from who’s shown his film at BLAH.  Downtown I hung out with Bike SD board member Trish Lundberg volunteering at Mission Brewery, and at Hess in North Park even ran into the legendary Barry Braden.  These are all awesome folks and it was great to see them in the same day for a prime community event.





  • CicloSDias Pacific Beach was the next day, and then CicLAvia on Wilshire Boulevard in LA the next weekend, but those will have to wait for my next post.

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an airport too far

20 Mar

RailPAC has a good summary on the status of rail projects in San Diego, including the short-term plan to “connect” the trolley to the airport:

By 2015 it is planned to connect the San Diego Trolley to the airport with regular shuttle bus service on the airport road for (new car rental facility) CONRAC. There are plans to build a pedestrian bridge between the airport and Washington St. Trolley Station, which will be part of the future ITC. However funding for the ITC isn’t expected before 2017. In the interim shuttle buses may be used to carry Trolley passengers to the airport at the station until the bridge can be built. For Coaster passengers this would mean transferring at Old Town to the Trolley the short distance to Washington Street and then connect to the Shuttle Buses.

Longer-term plans include a multi-modal facility that will provide a direct connection between the Coaster, Amtrak and the trolley to the airport – but not until 2030. Meanwhile, add Denver to the list of cities with direct rail connections to their airport in 2016, even though construction of both their light rail network and airport were started well after San Diego’s, respectively… Community opposition to the Mid-Coast trolley extension has begun in La Jolla. Also, the owners of La Jolla Village Square oppose leasing any of their abundant parking spaces to SANDAG for trolley station users because they are needed one or two days a year (perhaps even less than that in the near future)… SANDAG’s new I-15 transit parking garage in Sabre Springs is cutting-edge: solar panels, EV stations and modular bike parking – hopefully it entices more commuters to consider using the express bus routes one or more days a week.

- SD UrbDeZine scores our downtown on John Karras’s “12 Strategies That Will Transform Your City’s Downtown”… Little Italy is converting part of Date Street to a public plaza as part of a project that will bring two new mixed use buildings to the neighborhood and add underground parking. More restaurants, jobs, off-street parking and a new public plaza for pedestrians – Hillcrest, that’s what a reasonable height limit could do for your neighborhood too… The city council has approved new regulations that put parking over food trucks, effectively removing them from several neighborhoods. Council members weren’t shy about trying to ban food trucks near restaurants, particularly council member Lorie Zapf. When there wasn’t legal authority to do that, they used parking or other strained excuses to justify their actions (e.g., citing the historic nature of downtown – and Austin’s isn’t?). No excuses needed when you just follow the money: restaurant association $$ -> local GOP/Lincoln Club -> Zapf -> squash the food trucks. Remember this job-killing ordinance next time the council claims it’s focused on job creation.

Elsewhere downtown, Caffe Primo from L.A. is moving into the recently completed mixed-use project at 13th and K (which, at six stories, is another project likely too tall for Hillcrest under its current height ordinance). They’ll serve espresso during the day and be a full-service Italian restaurant at night… During that rainy weekend a few weeks ago, all the outdoor seating at the Old Police Headquarters’ Puesto was unavailable, which meant a half hour wait for a table at 1 PM. So we tried out Seasons 52 across the way, and while it was refreshing to see all that all their menu options are under 400 calories, they’re certainly not cheap. Plus I prefer the casualness of Puesto – Seasons 52′s carpeting and stuffy interior seemed out of place at the Headquarters. Hey, at least they’re not Pizzeria Mozza, where a couple of pizzas and a bottle of wine will set you back $100… Anthony’s Fish Grotto on the downtown harbor front has such potential given its location, but it’s atmosphere leaves a bit to be desired. That’s going to change with the planned makeover of the building, which will feature open architecture and green building concepts:

- Kensington is getting a 5000 square foot Stehly Farms Market in its Kensington Commons mixed-use project, which is still under construction. They’ll feature all organic produce, and a juice bar, deli and indoor/outdoor seating. Sounds just like what our neighborhood needs, and that’s one more errand that won’t require a car trip for us… On Convoy in Kearny Mesa, Common Theory will serve Asian food and 30+ taps of local craft beer; grand opening in May… Still waiting to hear if and when the San Diego night market will return to Kearny Mesa after an amazing 15,000 people turned up for the inaugural event last year… For some reason we’d never been to Alforon on El Cajon Boulevard in Rolando, and it turns out we’ve been missing some great Lebanese flatbreads, hummus and baba ganoush, all at very reasonable prices. Plus the family that owns the restaurant will really make you feel at home… DeMi Cafe has opened in the former Monica’s spot in University Heights.

- Next weekend is a big one for bicyclists, with the (nearly sold out) 26-mile Bikes and Beers on Saturday 3/29, followed the next day by Pacific Beach Ciclosdias on Garnet… If you’re really into bicycling, L.A. shuts down Wilshire Boulevard the next weekend for CicLaVia… We’ve been hearing about the SR15-adjacent bike lane from Adams Ave to Camino Del Rio South ever since we moved to Kensington 14 years ago, and now it looks like it’s really going to happen. The only bummer – how many times will you need to east/west backtrack just to get to the trolley station on the other side of the freeway?

- Thanks to SD Uptown News for asking me to contribute an opinion piece on pedestrian safety in Hillcrest… The Hillcrest Business Association decided not to vote on the SANDAG Universtiy Ave bike corridor this week and formed an ad-hoc committee to study it… Since businesses are concerned about the loss of street parking with the project, I started researching ways to mitigate the problem and posted some suggestions; I’ll add any more as I receive them. I’ve forwarded them on to the Chief Operating Officer of Uptown Parking District, who provided lots of additional information.



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(UPDATE: Many commenters continue to blame jaywalkers for all collisions, even though a majority of cases in San Diego are the driver’s fault. Of course pedestrians bear responsibility for their actions, but many are being hit while crossing legally.)

Two Sundays ago, pedestrian Aaron “Curtis” Voorhies was killed while crossing University Avenue between Vermont Street and 10th Avenue. The driver did not stop.  The incident occurred near an opening in the Uptown District plaza that funnels pedestrians to the street at mid-block:



Pedestrians will often cross the north side of University here, find refuge in the thin median, then cross to the south side. Voorhies was leaving the median (or may have been reaching to pick up his roommate’s dog) when hit. This stretch of University, much like the rest of it from 6th Ave eastward, is up to 8 lanes wide: 4 lanes dedicated to auto through-travel, up to 2 turn lane pockets at intersections, and 2 lanes for street parking. So out of these 6-8 lanes, we’ve set aside 0 for cyclists, and 0 to reduce crosswalk distance for pedestrians. The median is more to keep cars from hitting each other than hitting people.

Because Voorhies crossed the street outside of a crosswalk, some Facebook commenters actually said he deserved to be killed:

If this indeed happened because the person was jaywalking, (I’m probably going to be hated after this next statement) I feel no sympathy as stupidity deserves the punishment that befalls upon it.

And idiots jaywalk expecting cars to see them. Roads are for cars. That’s why there are crosswalks.

One commenter speculated Voorhies was under the influence, a dog thief, and/or homeless.  So it seems only drivers are entitled to our public streets, and if a bicyclist or pedestrian is hit, they’re to blame.  While the SANDAG Uptown Bike Corridor has been proposed as a traffic-calming measure for University, that feature is less important than the potential loss of any street parking. As one bike lane opponent said, “It should be about the money”.  Yes, because people’s lives are less important than money.

Another commenter asked how a two-ton vehicle is supposed to stop “on a dime” for a jaywalker.  No one is expecting this to happen, but by reducing speeds, a pedestrian – in or out of a crosswalk – has a dramatically-increased chance of surviving a collision:

Eighty percent of pedestrians struck by a car going 40 mph will die; at 30 mph the likelihood of death is 40 percent. At 20 mph, the fatality rate drops to just 5 percent.

This is the main commercial thoroughfare in the neighborhood, but the roads are designed to encourage travel speeds in the 40+ mph range. Those speeds are dangerous for pedestrians, even if they’re crossing legally. I can personally attest to the dangers of walking and biking in Hillcrest, since I was nearly hit in the unprotected bike lane on Cleveland Ave, and yelled at for crossing University “too slowly” while in a crosswalk. An intermediate step would be a mid-block crosswalk at this location until traffic-calming bike lanes go in, assuming they aren’t stopped by the opposition.  

Walk San Diego performed a pedestrian survey of Uptown over 10 years ago, identifying multiple trouble spots on University. Apart from some sidewalk bulb-outs and pedestrian lead-time crossings, little has been done to increase pedestrian safety.  The recent fatality on University is the same location where another serious pedestrian injury occurred in front of Rich’s a few months ago. And another life-threatening injury occurred at 6th and Evans last year.  In fact, in the 9 years after that 2003 survey (1/2004 to 11/2012) there have been 48 reported pedestrian collisions on University from Washington to Normal (where the bike lane is planned).  Here’s are some partial maps – each dot represents a collision:




From my interpretation of the causes given, in nearly two thirds of the cases, the driver was at fault. Drivers were also at fault in a majority of city-wide collisions (and these are just the reported incidents).  San Diego is one of most dangerous places in the country for pedestrians.

Considering the above, it appears there’s been a failure of leadership on pedestrian and bicyclist safety in Hillcrest. Is a lack of funding due to the city’s poor financial condition to blame? Then community leaders from Uptown Planners, Hillcrest Town Council, and the Hillcrest Business Association would welcome the substantial traffic calming funds provided by the proposed University Ave bike corridor. Instead, they all strongly oppose the project, because they’ve prioritized parking and traffic flow over safety. (UPDATE: Speaking of businesses, I forgot to mention that traffic calming increases business revenue [slower drivers see more businesses] – and nearby residential property values.) And it’s not getting any better: at the recent Uptown Planners election, 6 out of the 7 candidates (and all 3 elected) opposed the bike lane project.

Hillcrest’s (and San Diego’s) streets don’t have to be this way. In many countries, pedestrians have a greater right to public street space. For example, in the UK, where jaywalking is legal, road fatalities are one fourth the rate of the U.S. In the Netherlands, drivers have a higher threshold of responsibility in bicyclist collisions. In Sweden, roads are built for safety, not speed and convenience: “We simply do not accept any deaths or injuries on our roads.” That approach is known as Vision Zero, which new NYC mayor Bill DeBlasio has implemented. How great would it be if new San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer did the same? At the state level in California, a new bill to protect vulnerable road users has been introduced.

Cities around the country are implementing protected bike lanes to provide traffic calming as part of complete streets projects. Let’s hope Uptown will reconsider its opposition to them so we can address this urgent issue.

13 Responses to hillcrest, we have a problem


Walter Scott Chambers III

March 6th, 2014 at 1:49 pm

The Hillcrest Parking Committee, ironically, is also charged with pedestrian and bicycle issues for Hillcrest. And while they have been in hyperdrive commandeering every spare space of the street for parking, almost nothing has been done to reduce the need for parking through pedestrian and bicycle improvements.

The Parking District is able to take street space without a Study to determine if and where the problem is, a Plan to solve the problem, Public Input on the solutions, or CEQA review. Compare that to the extraordinary measures and effort it takes to put in a crosswalk or a bike lane.

Worse than that, the Parking District believes it has the right to stop bikes and pedestrians from their share of the street.

It is immoral and shameful, if not criminal.


Raymond David Lindeman II

March 6th, 2014 at 7:36 pm

“Another commenter asked how a two-ton vehicle is supposed to stop ‘on a dime’ for a jaywalker”

Just because one is in a protected vehicle does not give them the right to disregard human life, nor the fact that people, live, walk, and hangout in these streets. San Diegans think this is just ‘life’, but that’s absolutely false.

While I was in Brussels, people openly jaywalked in neighborhood streets and around plazas. I even saw a women walk into a two lane, one way street with her baby in a carriage! I gasped since they were going relatively fast, but they stopped, and my friend reassured me it’s completely normal. The thing is, with decreased speeds and more narrow roads, you can actually see people looking at you, informing you they wish to cross.

All the freeways in and around the urban core of San Diego are less than 10 minutes away; do you really have to get there in 5?


Adam Van Dale

March 6th, 2014 at 9:34 pm

Your an idiot.. Your stupid bike lane will create more problems for the residents here.. If you want to make walking safer for people, spend the money on that instead of a stupid bike path..


Scott Jackson

March 6th, 2014 at 10:04 pm

A bike lane on university will just give drivers additional targets.


Tyler Bergin

March 6th, 2014 at 11:20 pm

I, for one, would go to Hillcrest more often if there were a cycle track on University. There are so many great restaurants and shops, and the movie theater plays some great films. The main reasons I don’t go to Hillcrest as much now are, 1) Cycling on University between Vermont and 4th sucks, 2) Number 11 bus doesn’t run late enough to get back home if I want to stay out late, 3) If I were to drive, there is too much traffic and nowhere to park [I can typically get to my HC destination just as fast on a bike]. Cycle tracks would transform Hillcrest for the better.


Jeffrey Simon

March 7th, 2014 at 3:37 am

How about we do everything we can and that includes police enforcement of pedestrian right of way at all intersections. Almost no cars stop for any pedestrian anywhere in San Diego. And as an avid cyclist, we need bike lanes! Bike lanes are one of those things where if you build it they will come. People on the streets out of cars makes for a better more liveable city.


Paul Jamason

March 7th, 2014 at 9:34 am

Thanks everyone for your comments. It’s revealing that some Hillcrest drivers are publicly claiming they “own” every lane of every street, and are unwilling to share just one east/west route (or lose one parking space) in the name of pedestrian/bicyclist safety.

A Hillcrest nightlife promoter and ally of University Ave bike lane opponent Chris Shaw said this post “exploits” Voorhies’ death for political gain. It’s sad that he equates safety advocacy to politics. Is this recent article on mapping pedestrian deaths in Philadelphia also exploitative?

The promoter said the post was “tasteless”, yet he speculated Voorhies was drunk, homeless, and/or a dog thief. I doubt Voorhies’ mother (who came to San Diego after the incident) was comforted by those sentiments – or by the promoter’s Facebook friends who said her son deserved to die for jaywalking.

I’m disappointed that my own gay community can be so intolerant. Hopefully these views aren’t shared by a majority of our members and business owners.


Paul Sandbo

March 8th, 2014 at 12:04 am

How about looking both ways before crossing street? If it’s not clear, don’t cross. If it’s too busy, cross at the corner. When you get a walk signal, you still need to look and stay alert any time you are in the street.



March 13th, 2014 at 10:12 pm

As a resident of nearby Normal Heights, I think this is an important conversation to have. Recently a crosswalk was painted on Adams avenue, yet most vehicles don’t even slow down as they approach. Pedestrians and drivers need to be careful for everyone’s safety but drivers especially need to be cognizant of the dangers they present.


paul jamason

March 13th, 2014 at 10:34 pm

Hi Amanda, thanks for your comment. I’m glad they put the crosswalk in by Blind Lady, but you’re right: cars didn’t stop when I’ve used it. It could use a pedestrian signal/embedded lights like the one they put on Park in front of Numbers. How about a kickstarter for it, given the city’s financial condition? Also, it’s poorly lit at night – we didn’t see pedestrians (wearing black) in the opposing lane of the crosswalk until our car was almost next to them. But even after we hit our brakes the car behind us didn’t stop for them.


patricia lundberg

March 14th, 2014 at 10:59 am

Mr. Shaw didn’t meet Tonya Hall, Aaron’s mother.

I did.

Tonya stated “If the street isn’t going to be safe for pedestrians, why not tear out the sidewalks and just put in a freeway”

She also made a reference to all of the alcohol serving establishment offering bottomless mimosas on Sundays. (I don’t know if that actually happens, but the alcohol flows freely at Mr. Shaw’s establishments.)

Mr. Shaw is speaking out of turn if he has anything to say about Aaron that will come from Tonya or Myself.

Shame on you Mr. Shaw.

Patricia Lundberg



March 18th, 2014 at 10:33 pm

I was almost hit in that crosswalk in front of Blind Lady a few weeks ago, and the driver flipped me off on the way by. CLASSY!


paul jamason

March 19th, 2014 at 9:43 am

Hi Lisa, unfortunately many drivers have a “we own the road” mentality towards pedestrians and bicyclists. Some who oppose the Uptown Bike Corridor in Hillcrest say, “We can’t lose one parking space!”. To me this comes from the same mindset – they’ve chosen to drive exclusively, so tough luck to anyone else. On the positive side, I have encountered lots of drivers who are more than willing to share the road, and it seems to be getting better in Uptown.

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Mo’s Universe owner Chris Shaw wrote an opinion piece today for Voice of San Diego about the proposed Uptown Bike Corridor route for University Ave.  With four businesses located along University, Shaw is greatly impacted by the project, and he organized a recent meeting with other Hillcrest businesses that was largely opposed to it.  I appreciate the overall tone of Shaw’s article, in which he states his support for bike and pedestrian-friendly projects.  However, there are some specific items I’d like to address without cluttering up Voice of San Diego’s comments more than I already have.  Mr. Shaw’s words are block-quoted below:

Item #1:

These bike lanes would especially damage businesses on the west end, where congestion is greatest and parking is already at a premium. SANDAG reports most of the lost parking would be in the stretch between First and Sixth avenues…

There’s no denying that the First to Sixth section is the trickiest section of the project due to the narrow street there.  In order to provide separate bike lanes, parking on one side of the street will have to be removed, barring some engineering miracle.  I’ve pored over Google maps trying to find side streets wide enough to convert to angled parking there (to offset lost spaces), and apart from taking out a travel lane on 4th, I don’t see much.   What I do see is 24 parking lots in this area on


Of course we all want to score that cheap, convenient on-street parking spot.  The reality is that in an urban neighborhood like Hillcrest, there’s lots of competition for those spots.  So we often have to pay to park in a lot, just like in fellow gay hotspot West Hollywood.

What’s an alternative approach? Install smart parking meters to demand-price the on-street parking and you’ll get more turnover among the street parking that will remain on *every other street* in Hillcrest.  Another idea: institute a 10% fee on parking lots (like LA and SF do, to the tune of $80+ million/year) and put the revenue toward building a new parking garage.

Item #2:

Cities with these initiatives in place have reported that while bicycling ridership increased along routes with safe and buffered bike lanes, motor vehicle volume stayed about the same. This means that an equal amount of vehicle traffic can be expected along the proposed bike routes, on fewer and narrower lanes.

Three- and four-lane sections of Hillcrest would be reduced to two lanes through an already congested bottleneck.

The University exit from Washington Street in Mission Hills would be closed to traffic on a proposed bike route that would force drivers to take Washington and then cut through residential streets to get to University.

The congestion argument is new to me; I thought parking was the main concern.  It’s interesting that Shaw says there will be no decrease in traffic on University, yet then explains University at Washington will be closed.  Won’t that reduce traffic?

The closure is being done at the request of the residents of Mission Hills, who have complained for years about excessive cut-through traffic on University (residents will still be able to get in and out).  Access to University from Washington could be restricted to commercial streets of 4th and eastward with street modifications. So it appears Shaw opposes a street closure that many residents support.

Item #3:

Meanwhile, Washington Street, with its steady four lanes, would remain largely untouched.

Is University Avenue really the best option for bike lanes?

In a word, yes.  SANDAG, after working with community advisory groups in public meetings (for which there was little to no business participation) analyzed all east/west routes through Hillcrest and scored University highest:

See the last page for the scoring table, and the “Hillcrest-Hillcrest” rows in particular.  Washington scored lower than University for route directness, proximity to other modes of transit, and “activity center proximity” – University is a superior and longer business corridor than Washington.  While some have stated there would be 0 parking spaces lost on Washington, that’s simply untrue.  Businesses on Washington also opposed the bike lane project because of a projected 60 spaces lost on the south side of the street.

If the bike lanes were moved to Washington, wouldn’t we just have the same fight about street parking again, yet for an inferior route – one that includes treacherous on/off ramps for route 163?  Engineering effective traffic calming for those would eat up a significant part of the project budget.

Item #4:

Until SANDAG can account for and avoid the loss of parking and increased congestion with a much broader public conversation, the agency should pump the brakes on these proposed bike lanes through our neighborhood.

Is Shaw implying SANDAG has to replace every on-street parking space with cheap off-street parking? Doing so would exhaust the project budget on building an expensive parking lot or garage, and it’s clearly contradictory to the project’s goals. Even Todd Gloria told the crowd at a recent meeting that not every space will be replaced. Further, the notion that Hillcrest businesses somehow “own” public street space is disturbing, and speaks to the entitled auto culture here in San Diego.

Item #5:

I only hope they and the bicycling lobby don’t throw Hillcrest businesses in the back seat.

Maybe I’m reading it wrong, but “bicycling lobby” seems to imply some well-funded organization throwing its weight around the city. I’ve hung out with the bicycling lobby and believe me, that’s not the case. Instead, Mr. Shaw might consider the restaurant lobby that he’s a part of, which carries much more weight than our rag-tag cycling community.

In the last mayoral election, the San Diego restaurant lobby donated tens of thousands of dollars to the local Republican party (latecomers to the gay rights concept) and Lincoln Club. The Lincoln Club, you may remember, put out those fliers implying Democratic candidate David Alvarez was some sort of Mexican mafia thug – classy! University Avenue bakery Bread and Cie was among the donors. The powerful bicycle lobby’s funding is likely significantly less.

I’m still hoping a compromise can be reached that will see University become one of the best streets in Southern California. But it’s going to take brainstorming, creative ideas, and tough choices – not opinion pieces that lack any realistic suggestions on how we get there.

3 Responses to a friendly rebuttal to chris shaw


Scott Jackson

March 3rd, 2014 at 12:49 am

The entire project budget should be spent on building new parking spaces. There are not nearly enough as it is for the amount of commerce in hillcrest. Wasting this money on bike lanes for a tiny amount of people is a waste.



March 3rd, 2014 at 9:53 am

What if I told you there was a plan that would save 96% of all parking spaces in West Hillcrest between 1st and 7th?!

That’s what SANDAG’s worst case scenario plan does.


Dianne Yee

March 3rd, 2014 at 11:50 am

need to print this out and pass out to all businesses on the University corridor.

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