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Carnival of Caffeination at Modern Times

Carnival of Caffeination at Modern Times

Modern Times has announced their newest annual festival, Carnival of Caffeination, which will be held at their new event space on Kurtz St. behind the Sports Arena:

A meticulously selected cadre of incredibly bad-ass brewers and roasters will occupy our new warehouse & event space, The Fortress of Raditude, for a day of pure, liquid magnificence.

On hand will be a jaw-dropping arsenal of dark, coffee-centric, and barrel-aged beers alongside a king’s ransom of dazzling coffee-creations from some of the most boss-level roasters in the universe

Scroll down on that link to see the list of breweries and roasters.  Modern Times has been putting out some amazing variations on their Black House coffee stout, including a new Nitro with coconut and cocoa:

I’ve been to two of Modern Times’ festivals now and they are a ton of fun.  Profits from the event go to BikeSD (again!), so mark your calendar for February 11th .

– Since the first SANDAG Bikeways presentation way back in September 2012, I’ve attended several of the 90+ outreach events for these Regional Bike Plan Early Action Program projects, and a few Downtown Mobility Plan meetings. But last month’s Pershing Bikeway and Meade Avenue Bikeways meetings were the first time I’ve witnessed an overwhelming majority of speakers supporting safe bike lanes.

First, thanks to everyone who came out in support of these projects. After years of setbacks and delays, the broad support felt like a turning point. The Meade Bikeway meeting at Normal Heights Community Planning Group was particularly surprising – there were no negative comments against the project. And opponents’ arguments against the Pershing Bikeway were either easily dispatched (SANDAG’s traffic study disproved concerns over traffic delays) or downright silly, like this resident’s claim that traffic calming is “social engineering“:

This gem came from a SoNo Neighborhood Alliance representative, who vowed to block future bike safety projects in the community. I’m not sure how converting a freeway-like road to make it safer for all users is “social engineering”, while decades of building roads exclusively for drivers isn’t? Given SoNo’s opposition to anything that improves equity – including new housing in North Park – they are actively defying their own mission statement of “building consensus” and “achieving compromise”. When every street in North Park is dedicated to moving and storing cars, opposing the only north/south bike lane in the community isn’t “compromise”.

– The positive developments on the projects above were tempered by the City’s foundering Complete Boulevard study on dangerous El Cajon Boulevard. Armed with a $175K grant from SANDAG to address the high rate of pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and deaths on this corridor, the City set out to propose:

“multi-modal mobility infrastructure improvements within the El Cajon Boulevard corridor between Highland Avenue and 50th Street, and will produce a planning study that includes preliminary engineering drawings for the highest priority improvements. The mobility infrastructure improvements envisioned for the corridor are intended to help realize the transformative potential of the Rapid Bus service in Mid-City by creating a more walkable, bikeable, and transit-friendly street corridor”

…yet its study ended up only suggesting basic pedestrian improvements and a short buffered bike lane in one direction. And that’s it – even after going back to the drawing board (and the SANDAG funding trough) when advocates noted the study’s lack of any bike infrastructure.

How did this critical study on one of the city’s Vision Zero corridors go from “multi-modal mobility infrastructure” to just crosswalks and sidewalk bulb-outs? Despite a street parking usage rate of just 46%, and loads of off-street parking, the El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association, Little Saigon Business District and City Heights Community Planning Group all refuse to accommodate a bike lane on El Cajon Boulevard at the expense of any parking. Community planning group board members attacked the bike lanes at their meeting last month:

“It’s for Hillcrest and SDSU, and we’re just a corridor,” said Kenton Finkbeiner. “It’s really not meeting the needs of our community.”

His colleague, Jim Varnadore agreed. “We’ve been somebody’s passageway for too long,” Varnadore said. “What we should be thinking about is safety that protects pedestrians, not what a few bicyclists want.”

Varnadore has a long history of opposing bike infrastructure and made snide comments about bicyclists at the prior City Heights planning group meeting I attended. Is Jim aware that it’s possible for safety improvements to benefit pedestrians *and* bicyclists?

I didn’t understand what Finkbeiner meant, so he clarified for me that bike lanes are for “white collar” outsiders only, and are “insulting”:

This reminded me of Uptown Planner Mat Wahlstrom’s comment that “only white people ride bikes”, but these misguided volunteers planning our communities couldn’t be any further from the truth: most bicyclists are lower-income immigrants. Is bicyclist Omar Avila, injured on El Cajon Boulevard by an SUV, a white collar outsider? And here’s a recent tweet about the full bike racks at the El Cajon Boulevard YMCA (which I can personally attest has a wide range of incomes and ethnicities among its membership):

Finkbeiner declares that all City Heights residents are car commuters because of high residential street parking demand, which is also just completely wrong; in reality,  “City Heights has one of the lowest rates of car ownership in San Diego, with only about a third of households owning a car.”  He then implies that no parking on El Cajon Boulevard can be allocated to a bike lane, because there is “no parking in residential areas” of City Heights. This ignores the City’s strict off-street parking requirements for most residences.  In fact, it has a set of guidelines regarding conversion of existing garages, since “garages were built to provide required off-street parking”.  

Here in ‘white-collar’ Kensington, we’ve had some residents convert their garages to personal businesses, who then park on the street and worsen residential street parking demand.  Yet the City’s residential zoning requirements state that operating a business out of your residence “shall not eliminate or reduce required off-street parking”.  Surely this isn’t happening in City Heights too, especially among the most vocal critics of bike lanes?

The most intriguing question is why would Finkbeiner, an environmental planner and San Diego Canyonlands volunteer, invent reasons to attack bicyclists who are helping the environment? I’m not the only one to notice a disturbing pattern of hatred toward bike advocates within my own gay community and its allies, often coming from high-profile members like Wahlstrom, Finkbeiner, Jonathan Hale, Tim Gahagan and Jim Winsor. Apparently some in our community who demand tolerance and equality view these principles as a one-way street… with no room for people on bikes.  

Another argument used against bike lanes on El Cajon Boulevard is that the nearby proposed SANDAG Bikeways make them ‘redundant’, despite bicyclists needing safe access to businesses on ECB. The author of the Reader article above, a (former?) opponent of the Meade Bikeway, states that the Meade route runs parallel to the study’s stretch of El Cajon from Highland to 50th. However, Meade Bikeway actually ends well west of these blocks:

Instead, it’s the Monroe Bikeway that runs parallel to the Complete Boulevard segment, and that Bikeway has been hung up between the City and Talmadge residents feuding over prior vehicle access issues. There is no guarantee that the Monroe Bikeway will be built, and if it is, it will likely be well after the Meade Bikeway’s 2019 completion date (again, these Bikeways got started in 2012). The same could also be said for the Orange-Howard Bikeway also cited by the Reader author, because it doesn’t have a planning/construction timetable yet either. The icing on the Bikeway cake is that the SANDAG Transportation Committee now requires its own final approval of all Bikeway projects (instead of just CEQA exemption) before passing them on to the full board, for yet another final approval.

Absent from any of these conversations is the staggering ($15 billion) cost to California from gas-powered vehicle impacts on climate and health, particularly in lower-income communities such as City Heights. Like the SoNo Neighborhood Alliance opposing measures that would increase equity in their neighborhoods, a group of residents and business owners in City Heights are doing the same on El Cajon Boulevard – while casting bicyclists as the villains. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

Pershing, Meade and 4th/5th Ave Bikeway Meetings

Pershing, Meade and 4th/5th Ave Bikeway Meetings

It’s a busy week for the SANDAG Bikeways this week, with two community planning group presentations and a public open house.  The big one is the public hearing for the Pershing Bikeway, which will be held Wednesday at 6:15 PM (doors open 5:30) at the Mingei Museum in Balboa Park:


I can’t seem to find the renderings for the project on the SANDAG page, but it will address the incredibly dangerous section of Pershing near I-5, where bicyclists must navigate drivers accelerating onto two high-speed freeway onramps.  This terrifying navigation isn’t always successful: there were 13 bicyclists injured (two severely) from 2004-14 on Pershing.  A separated bikeway and reduction of auto lanes from four to two will greatly increase safety:


Opponents of the project say that no bicyclists deserve safe facilities, because some of them run stop signs; meanwhile, fatalities caused by inattentive drivers are at an all-time high, yet we keep building roads.  Last Saturday we saw an SUV (likely speeding in the wet conditions) up on the guardrail on Pershing, just inches from flying into the canyon below.  

Pershing Bikeway opponents also claim the changes will cause huge traffic delays, but a traffic study performed for the project shows no significant effect.  “We don’t believe it” is the predictable response from some residents on NextDoor.  The traffic study, which only considers automobile level of service, was required by the City of San Diego for compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act.  This is because the City still hasn’t adopted a state directive from 2014 to evaluate a project’s impact on *all* modes of transit, not just drivers.  If the City is serious about its Climate Action Plan, why is it still only measuring auto delays while ignoring how bike lanes reduce vehicle miles travelled and carbon emissions?

– SANDAG will be giving an update on the Meade Avenue Bikeway Tuesday at the Normal Heights Community Planning Group (4649 Hawley, 6 PM).  The update is in response to opponents who have been demanding changes that would result in no parking loss.  Currently, the project will remove a small number of spaces around intersections set to receive traffic-calming circles and crosswalks.  

I often bike this route and the intersection visibility is terrible – drivers have to pull into the street to see what’s coming, because there’s only a small red-curb section on two of the four Meade intersection corners.  It also lacks crosswalks.  Drivers speed well over the posted limit, and I had one driver come within a foot of me as they passed.   Given the above, and the City’s adoption of NACTO recommendations specifying 20-foot no-parking buffers around intersections, there is no way to make Meade safer for all users without some on-street parking loss.  Even without the 20-foot buffer, installing just a crosswalk would still result in one parking space loss on one side of the street (the other side is already red-curbed). 

Opponents claim they simply have no on-street parking to “give” – as if they own the public street space for their personal car storage – and some have suggested their property lines extend halfway into the public street.  Meanwhile, bike lane advocates, who hoped for protected bike lanes on El Cajon Boulevard, but ended up with unprotected lanes on Meade (to preserve street parking on both streets), can only wonder how much more their safety will be compromised while attempting to get a single safe bike route through the neighborhood.

– At the same time as the Meade update, SANDAG will be doing another at Uptown Planners (Tuesday, 6 PM at Joyce Beers center) regarding the 4th/5th Avenue Bikeways.  Attendees will also be able to provide input on aesthetic elements of the project.  

If you can attend any of these meetings to voice your support, please do.  Be aware that speaking out for a single safe bike lane in your community may get you labelled as an “extremist biking lobbyist“, but treat it as a badge of honor.  Opponents will be present at all three, so it’s important that SANDAG and City officials hear both sides.