The SANDAG Mid-City Bike Corridor goes “public” Tuesday with its first open house at Queen Bee’s in North Park (3925 Ohio) from 5-8 PM. This will be the first chance for the general public to comment on the final alignment report, which includes a comprehensive scoring report for the various east-west corridor routes:
The El Cajon Boulevard route, favored by a majority of cyclists at the advisory group meetings, scored highest due to its proximity to businesses and transit. It’s also the most costly of the plans, and would remove an estimated 32 parking spaces over its 4 mile route. Notably, it scores high in the “Low Stress” category – because the separated cycle track and reduced number/narrowed auto lanes for this route would provide both a safe riding environment and traffic calming.
Given the City of San Diego’s fiscal condition, this SANDAG project presents a rare opportunity to do something big in North Park and City Heights – not just for cyclists, but for a road that divides the neighborhood with freeway auto speeds. One criticism of the ECB route I’ve heard repeatedly is that the road is too dangerous for many cyclists to ride on. And that’s true, right now… but it was also true for Broadway in New York City until separated lanes were added there. What makes San Diego different?
One business owner who’d been briefed by SANDAG’s very competent Bridget Enderle cited the “dangerous” argument, then said that installing bike lanes on El Cajon would disrupt auto flow. Unfortunately speedy auto “flow” has somehow become more important than pedestrian and cyclist safety on city streets. The owner said he and other businesses supported the alternate SANDAG routes on Meade and Orange, where pretty landscaped cycling boulevards are shown in the renderings. Sounds nice, but who’s going to maintain the landscaping? See the hardscaped Madison Avenue median “eyesore” for reference (Todd Gloria’s description, not mine). Instead, let’s leverage existing resources like the El Cajon Business District to help maintain cycling infrastructure.
Finally, it came down to what it always does, parking. Any loss of parking for bike lanes would be unacceptable to businesses – even though all 6-8 lanes of ECB are devoted to auto lanes or parking (SANDAG reports that ECB has more capacity than required for auto traffic). 100% for cars, 0% for bikes? As I read today, “cars don’t shop, people do”, and numerous studies have shown the economic benefit of bike lanes, even when they sacrifice some on-street parking. Many of the lost spaces under the ECB plan can be mitigated with angled parking on side streets. Expect to hear these same arguments at the SANDAG open house.
- While we’re on the subject of cycling, there was another article today about Amazon’s massive project in downtown Seattle, which includes bike lanes paid for by the company. It’s a marked contrast to San Diego’s respective technology leader, Qualcomm, who continues to expand its suburban campus and is completing this parking garage monstrosity that’s two city blocks long:
Qualcomm’s Sorrento Valley is a traffic-choked nightmare, accessed by gridlocked Mira Mesa Boulevard, and the I-805 freeway that’s at a standstill for hours a day. Solution? More parking – and lots of it! Instead of following the lead of many companies across the US that are moving downtown and/or embracing alternative transportation options (like the Silicon Valley shuttles that are changing the future of transit), Qualcomm’s racing toward the 1950′s. Leading the way is founder Irwin Jacobs, a man who loves cars so much he nearly built a bridge through the heart of Balboa Park to yet another parking garage. I’d suggest Qualcomm employee/future mayor Nathan Fletcher talk some sense into Irwin about Qualcomm’s insanity, but Nathan was riding shotgun on Jacobs’ Plaza de Panama folly.
- Enough transportation ranting. We did a City Farmers run a couple weekends ago, which was the perfect excuse to check out Nate’s Garden Grill next door (on Euclid, south of City Heights). Nate’s is like a little slice of Portland, with its ample outdoor patio, obscure 21-tap list, vegan/organic options and country atmosphere – there’s nothing like it in San Diego. My tempeh reuben and Jay’s pulled pork sandwich both hit the spot on a sunny afternoon.
- I work in Kearny Mesa a few days each week and Koon Thai on Convoy has been a frequent lunch standby since they opened a year or two ago. Spicy and inexpensive, the place somehow gets busier every time we go back… Just up the street, Ice Blast opened recently and serves up the softest shaved ice this side of Oahu’s Matsumoto’s:
- More food stuff: Moncai Vegan food truck is at the new Hess Brewing in North Park for Meatless Mondays, and they’ve started an indiegogo fundraiser to open their own restaurant. Meanwhile:
Trust me, Mondays are infinitely better with meat. Can we put an end to this Meatless Mondays shit already?
— @San_Diego_Matt (@San_Diego_Matt) August 27, 2013
- Waypoint Public is set to open next month in the former Linkery spot and will feature chef Amanda Baumgarten from Herringbone in La Jolla. Look for a big garage door to be added to the south side of the building, along with a small patio. Now if these tropical evenings could just last through October…