new downtown bike loop

new downtown bike loop

– Looks like Polite Provisions/Soda & Swine is drawing a crowd: seafood shack Beerfish is moving in next door on Adams, according to Eater. I like the big outdoor patio with picnic tables and pitchers of craft beer, all from the Sessions Public owner. Portland’s got patios like this all over town, so with our weather, why aren’t there more neighborhood spots like Station Tavern that offer communal outdoor seating?… Two new ice cream spots are close to opening, just in time for summer – Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream in North Park on or around June 7th, and Moosie’s in Kensington… Common Theory Public House and its 60 taps is open on Convoy, but you have to look hard to find those Asian entrees on the menu.

– 2013 was the summer of bicycling in New York City, as the Citibike bike share debuted and riding took off across a new network of protected/dedicated bike lanes. Could 2014 be the same for San Diego? With the DecoBike launch set for next month (look for an updated station map on June 2nd; over/under on # of rejected Uptown stations: 10) and the city’s new downtown Bike Loop in place, it’s off to a good start. Part of that bike loop includes new dedicated bike lanes on 4th/5th in Bankers Hill, shown below. Those bike lanes only extend up to Laurel, since higher traffic volumes north of there likely made it tougher to remove an auto lane. As you can see in this video I took at rush hour last Friday, removing a lane has no impact on traffic flow. Eventually these lanes will extend all the way to Hillcrest (and hopefully be protected) once the SANDAG Uptown Bike Corridor is implemented.

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While these are big, positive developments to biking in San Diego, it’s worth noting the significant opposition to them. The chair of Uptown Planners doubted the city’s traffic counts showing excess capacity, and residents spoke against them because of increased emergency response times. In the article above, a retired psychologist doesn’t even bother with these strange excuses and cuts right to the real reason: bicyclists are a “minority” unfairly taking lanes from drivers who “own” all the lanes (glad she wasn’t my therapist). Yet even after the conversion, 7 lanes are still dedicated solely to auto travel and parking in each direction, when 4th/5th/6th are considered. Hopefully future discussions on bike lanes can focus on the utterly false conviction that some drivers can exclude bicyclists from safely using roads – public infrastructure we all pay taxes to maintain.

When even Forbes magazine recognizes the advances bike transit is making, something must be up:

More Americans are choosing to bicycle for everyday transportation. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of bicycle commuters grew 40 percent nationwide, and was even greater — 77 percent — in the some cities, according to the report. Yet “government funding of safe bicycling projects is not keeping up. Though biking and walking account for 12 percent of all trips in the U.S., these transportation modes receive only 1.6 percent of federal transportation spending.”

– I read that AAA is offering bicycle roadside assistance in the northeast, so I asked them if they’ll be adding it in southern California. Here’s their response:

Dear Mr. Jamason,

Thank you for contacting AAA.

We do not have immediate plans to offer bicycle service in our market. We will be monitoring the program and services offered by AAA Southern New England and others and evaluate the potential for bicycle roadside assistance for our market in the future. We regularly review our member benefits and continually evolve our benefits to meet our members needs and wants.

For further assistance please reply to this email and thank you for your membership loyalty.

Respectfully,

AAA Online Customer Support Team
Automobile Club of Southern California

It’s a good sign that an organization that’s been hostile to bicycling is beginning to provide these services, even if they’re not available here yet.

Elsewhere, Lemon Grove Avenue recently received green bike lanes and is starting on their Connect Main Street pedestrian/bike plan. And on a related note, Civic San Diego and the Downtown Partnership held a workshop this week on the mobility plan for downtown, and they’re actively promoting alternative transit modes and place-making. It’s a stark contrast to Uptown, where a 1970’s mindset prevails (from Walt Chambers’ summary of the recent Uptown Streetcar Feasibility Study meeting):

It was an exciting “blast from the past” last night at the Uptown Planners meeting on the Urban Design Element of the Community Plan Update (CPU).

Leo Wilson, Chair of the Uptown Community Planning Group cited Former (disgraced) Mayor Dick Murphy when claiming that lack of parking in Hillcrest was causing blight in that neighborhood.

Wilson also reiterated his belief in Level of Service (LOS) as a good Environmental and Development tool.

Although LOS has now been widely discredited – and recently removed from CEQA Requirements by State law, Wilson still wants to base the next 30 years of the Community Plan on 1970’s planning that has now been outlawed by the State.

In the 21st Century, we know that many communities became non-places and subsequently blighted when they became pock-marked by parking lots. Excess free/cheap parking also induces traffic. Eventually, too much parking solves its own problem because nobody wants to go to a “non-place” designed for cars … which frees up a lot of parking.

Likewise, LOS as used in an urban environment, actually creates more congestion and traffic, and does more harm to the environment, and restricts smart development. That is why it was removed from CEQA requirements.

Welcome to the 21st Century, Uptown Planning Group

While Uptown Planners may say they support walkable neighborhoods (BTW, to age well: walk more), the governor’s office has declared Level of Service to be anti-pedestrian. You can’t have it both ways, and it’s clear that driver convenience is still the top priority for our suburbs-in-the-city planning set.

Meanwhile, in Balboa Park, there’s a new director at SDAI, which hopefully means some better art for sale at their semi-annual C-Note events, which have grown increasingly lackluster.  Also, this letter writer thinks we should bow down to our wealthy, elderly Balboa Park philanthropist overlords and build that damn Jacobs bridge and parking garage! Never mind that attendance is up (not down as the author states) while Cabrillo Bridge has been closed to cars; that there’s 14 handicap spaces in the “closed” Alcazar Garden lot (it’s open); that a service road leads directly to the Globe; or that we gained an awesome new public plaza by removing the parking lot in Plaza de Panama. While the author states public transportation to the Park is “pitifully behind the times”, he then says we should funnel more cars into the heart of the park – instead of, say, making public transit better. Spoken like a true established San Diegan.

2 thoughts on “new downtown bike loop

  1. Have you ever been to Montreal? I grew up there but live in SD now. I thought you might enjoy this article about how it has become a very bike-friendly city:
    http://www.montrealgazette.com/travel/Josh+Freed+Cyclomaniacs+rejoice+Bikelandia+open+business/9916007/story.html
    You also might be interested to read more about how their Bixi bike-sharing program, one of the first in North America (and the largest), has actually been a financial failure (despite being very popular).

    Love your column.
    Thanks,
    Jennifer

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