Bayshore Bikeway Ribbon Cutting

Bayshore Bikeway Ribbon Cutting

Bicyclists, SANDAG and local government representatives celebrated the opening of another Bayshore Bikeway segment in National City yesterday.  I was surprised to learn that planning of this Bikeway began over 40 years ago.   32nd Street Naval Station Commander Roy Love noted that over 5,000 service members living across Harbor Dr. were driving the half mile to get to the base, but that under his command he has promoted transit alternatives that reduce congestion.  Safe bike infrastructure like the Bikeway is a critical part of that effort. 

Also on hand was a LimeBike representative and a whole lot of LimeBikes, including the very cool e-bikes shown below:   

We tried out an e-bike and were surprised to feel the power assist kick in on the first pedal push.  Electric, dockless bikeshare could be a game-changer in San Diego, as LimeBike and Ofo deployed their systems here last Thursday. The LimeBike rep noted the high usage of dockless bikes around transit stations, solving the last-mile problem.  And the e-bikes remove the “San Diego is too hilly for bikes” excuse often used by the parking lobby.

Unsurprisingly, there’s already been pushback from motorists and businesses who claim our public street space is exclusively for private car storage.  Already complaining on day 2 of the bike rollout: the Hillcrest Business Association, which recently spent another $20K to kill more bike lanes, and home to HBA board member/Grah Safe & Lock owner Glenn Younger, who recently called bike lanes “Spandex Welfare”:

HBA wants to restrict where dockless bikes can be parked in the neighborhood – essentially making them docked – despite previously opposing docked bike share on public streets.  Here’s a solution: follow San Diego’s legally-binding Climate Action Plan and convert 18% of auto parking to bike parking on every block.  And far more bikes can be stored in a parking space than one car.  

After the Bayshore Bikeway event, we rode the Bikeway (which features some really unique sights and nature experiences) down to the new Imperial Beach Bikeway Village, where we were presented with this amazing panoramic view of the bay:

At the Bikeway Village, Trident Coffee (shown below) had a wide variety of cold brew coffees and other beverages.  2 Wheels Cycling Boutique has a variety of bikes, gear and a full-service repair shop.  Coronado Brewing is set to open in the Village later this year with a restaurant and brewing operation. 

It was a great feeling to visit businesses that actually valued bicyclists as their customers.  Compare this to “tolerant, inclusive, and accepting of diversity” Hillcrest, where bicyclists are called “spandex welfare” recipients, and residents and businesses actively campaign against their safety!  I know where I’ll continue to (not) spend my money.  

From the Bikeway Village we biked up the Silver Strand into Coronado and ferried back to downtown:

The Bayshore Bikeway event comes against a backdrop of SANDAG “Early Action” bike projects that have recently been delayed, delayed yet again, and then delayed after that delay – after years of delays.  I was told by a SANDAG project manager in 2014 that the 4th and 5th Ave Bikeways were ready to start construction in 2015 (except for the then-planned Balboa Park Centennial Celebration); they’re now delayed to 2019 at least. 

Every transportation project has snags, but SANDAG hit a mere *1 out of 9* bikeway milestones in FY17 and 3 out of 17 so far – those are San Diego Padre-type batting averages:

I’m a big supporter of SANDAG staff that have worked tirelessly while being targeted for abuse by business associations, community planning groups and the Uptown Parking District.  It’s tough to make progress when your (former) executive director is hostile toward bike infrastructure, absurd public comments must be considered, and local electeds would often rather avoid conflict than assert leadership. 

One bright note: the Howard/Orange Ave Bikeway passed its CEQA exemption Friday (give your feedback on aesthetic elements here).  This bikeway was cited as a reason for the City of San Diego to not provide safe bike infrastructure on El Cajon Boulevard, yet its construction has also been pushed back to 2019.

The above is another example of the City failing to live up to its Vision Zero promises on pedestrian and bicyclist safety as deaths continue to mount.  As the City Council takes notice, the Mayor’s office seems opposed to spending any money on the problem or changing staff culture.  For example, the City’s Transportation and Engineering street designs encourage high speed driving, yet Deputy Director Linda Marabian declared motorists “will not be inconvenienced” for pedestrian/bicyclist safety.  If a city deputy director is fired over a homeless person being placed in a garbage truck, why is Marabian still employed as dozens of residents continue to be killed every year?

Despite daily news of reckless, often drunk drivers killing and maiming residents (a recent example is a red-light running SUV driver that seriously injured a bicyclist in City Heights), motorists take to Nextdoor to declare bicyclists as the bigger problem:

 

It’s encouraging to see Vision Zero working in other cities that have made serious efforts to fix the problem.  Unfortunately we still have a long way to go in San Diego – on multiple levels.

End Local Control

End Local Control

CA State Senate Bill 827, which would remove local control over housing near transit, is generating a lot of press:

  • Curbed has a good interview with the bill’s author, Scott Weiner, who addresses much of the flat-out-wrong arguments that SB 827 opponents like Berkeley mayor Jesse Arreguin are using 
  • Ethan Elkind points out how hypocritical the Sierra Club has become as this environmental organization opposes a bill that would reduce environmentally-harmful sprawl – just to keep the donations rolling in from wealthy urban NIMBY homeowners
  • 130 tech executives have signed a letter in support of SB 827.  But why stop with tech companies?  Nearly all the UC campuses are having difficulty attracting and retaining tech talent due to the extraordinary cost of housing.  My employer, UC San Diego, has a 15-month waiting list for ‘affordable’ off-campus staff housing at $1500/month for a one-bedroom.  While new on-campus staff housing is planned, it’s still several years off.  Shouldn’t the University of California be advocating for more housing in their communities, and bills like SB 827?
  • Meanwhile, the Raise the Balloon folks in Bay Park are rallying support against the bill, and housing near the $2.2 billion dollar Mid Coast Trolley in general.  These trolley stops are exactly where large-scale new housing is needed for UC San Diego and UTC employees:

  • Voice of San Diego printed a remarkable opinion piece from a suburban author opposing smart growth housing near transit while offering no alternatives.  It was flabbergasting to read a long-term San Diego resident proclaim that urban, multi-family housing made her feel “unwelcome”, and that it shouldn’t be built because of poorly-planned development in San Carlos and Mira Mesa (that her own family lived in).  Translation: “The cheap, car-dependent suburban sprawl that my parents and I benefited from should prevent housing near transit for my kids”.  She then went on to criticize the low quality of public transit in sprawl areas, and low transit ridership – while failing to acknowledge that the poor public transit quality likely caused the low ridership.  Seattle is a great example of robust transit growth when transit riders are given priority, but no suggestions on how to improve transit (funding) were provided.   

Speaking of transit:

  • MTS has a progressive new director, Georgette Gomez – a refreshing change from the unnecessary anti-bicyclist comments from former Republican director Harry Mathis
  • The first phase of the MTS Transit Optimization Plan has increased frequency on urban routes and brought Sunday #11 bus service back to my neighborhood!  I’ve been taking the 11 to the new Trader Joe’s at SDSU and it’s really convenient.
  • SANDAG will have a grand opening ceremony for a new segment of the Bayshore Bikeway on Saturday, February 17, 10:00 a.m. at 1400 Tidelands Avenue, in front of the Port District general services building.  At Bike SD we’re hoping to do a post-event ride to check out the IB Bikeway Village, now open for business.
  • The Union Tribune covered last week’s groundbreaking for the Rose Creek Bikeway
  • Drivers only pay half the cost of roads, and they’re falling apart as a result.  California’s new gas tax, which tried to address this, could now be overturned by drivers opposed to paying their fair share
  • San Diego’s Vision Zero seeks to greatly reduce pedestrian injuries and deaths, but this week brings another example of its Traffic Engineering Department giving zero shits about the cause.  When told of drivers ignoring a “Yield to Pedestrians” sign, endangering street-crossers, their answer was, “The yield sign tells drivers to stop“, and that traffic flow necessitated green lights directing drivers to plow into people in a crosswalk.  Well done!  Maybe we can go back to removing crosswalks in San Diego for pedestrian safety.
  • Lots of coverage of the Mid-Coast Trolley construction on Genesee Ave last week, so here’s lots of pictures of the construction further west on the UCSD campus (and a shot of the Gilman Dr. bridge): :