By John Anderson
Last Saturday, April 6, the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition (SDCBC) hosted a ‘State of Cycling in San Diego County’ event in the Balboa Room of the historic Lafayette Hotel on El Cajon Boulevard in North Park.
This event was held to mark the one-year anniversary of the 5-Year Strategic Plan the group adopted in 2012 and discuss progress and goals for the coming years. Every seat in the room was taken, plus some standing in the doorways. I counted approximately 60 people. A bicycle valet service was provided outside the hotel for attendees – a service the SDCBC also offered at the Padres home opener on Tuesday, April 8.
Andy Hanshaw, Executive Director of SDCBC welcomed everyone and gave a brief overview of the past year. He thanked those in attendance for coming and for supporting bicycling in San Diego. He then turned over the floor to Beryl Forman, Marketing Director of the El Cajon Business Improvement District (BID).
Beryl talked about businesses on El Cajon Boulevard and efforts to improve the image of the street. She also discussed events like ‘Bike the Boulevard’ – the next installment of this event on will be Saturday, April 27th starting at noon. Details can be found on the BikeSD calendar. Beryl also mentioned the ongoing SANDAG project to improve bicycle infrastructure between North Park and Mid-City. (Coincidentally she co-wrote an article on this topic that appeared in Monday’s San Diego Free Press.) She emphasized the importance of placing bicycle improvements on prominent commercial streets like El Cajon Boulevard.
The next speaker was Dave Snyder, Executive Director of the California Bicycle Coalition (CBC). His organization is a ‘coalition of coalitions’ that represents groups like the SDCBC from all across California to promote policy changes and other efforts at the state level. The CBC represents over 30,000 dues paying members in California and boasts more than 100,000 people on their e-mail contact list.
The CBC has a goal of tripling bicycling in California by 2020 and doubling within 5 years. Dave noted that ‘complete, contiguous bicycle networks’ are a key point to make riding easier and more comfortable to enable these increases in state-wide ridership to happen. He also noted the CBC is working with policy-makers to change state environmental laws that make implementing new bicycle infrastructure difficult. Progress is being made on this front, he noted.
Kevin Wood, President of the SDCBC, then spoke in more detail about the past year for the SDCBC. He noted that last year’s Bike to Work Day had record-setting participation and the annual Bike the Bay event sold out in 2012. (For 2013 there are already over 500 participants registered.) He also noted the ongoing work to count cyclists in San Diego in an accurate way, a joint effort of SDSU and SANDAG.
An interesting figure during his presentation was that from 2001 to 2009 the average amount of vehicles miles driven by 16 – 34 year olds in the U.S. decreased by 23%. He noted that especially among younger people there seems to be a growing trend away from reliance on automobiles for transport needs.
Some of the goals that SDCBC has for the next 5 years (by 2017) include to increase membership to 5,000 (about triple the current number), to increase participation in educational events by 50%, and to double the amount of bicycle trips in San Diego County. Mentioned as well was that Coronado plans to install 8 bike corrals in the city in the near future. (San Diego currently has 4 of these parking structures installed.)
After Kevin spoke attendees were invited to visit tables throughout the room which represented the various committees within SDCBC. Following this session participants were invited on a group ride around North Park, Normal Heights, and City Heights which concluded at Tiger!Tiger! Tavern on El Cajon Boulevard for food, beer, and conversation.
- Bike to Work Day – May 17
- CicloSDias – August 11 (** Please note date change **)
- Bike the Bay – August 25
- Tour de Fat Bicycle Festival – September 28 (Golden Hill Park)
For more information on SDCBC or to get involved in their activities visit www.sdcbc.org.