By John P. Anderson
Two and a half years ago SANDAG announced $200 million for bike projects to create a regional network. The first of these projects is a $40 million project in Uptown. It would create a critical connection both East to West and North to South in the heart of San Diego’s most densely populated neighborhoods.
Since the original announcement SANDAG has repeatedly trumpeted these funds as a sign of commitment to healthy transport in the form of bicycles. During the time since Uptown was selected for the first SANDAG bicycle project what has changed in the area? Population, businesses, traffic, and roadways all remain the same. There remain only two real options for an East to West connection – University and Washington.
What has changed in that period is the will of SANDAG and the Transportation Committee to support and implement real bicycle infrastructure. SANDAG is now taking unilateral action, walking back any commitment to bicycles for this corridor and setting a poor precedent for the future. Worse yet is the toxic effect this will have on the many, many San Diegans that spent thousands of hours attending the public forums to give input and show support for this improvement in Uptown only to be trumped by back-room dealings hidden from the public eye that gutted the project in recent months.
SANDAG is doubling down on the failed policies of 50 years of planning and building roadways in our region. More and wider roads, more cars, more congestion.
We need safe streets today. There are too many deaths, too many injuries, and too little justice (or even simple apologies) to those left dead or injured.
We are a real, vibrant, beautiful city – not a collection of suburbs. We need to behave as such.
SANDAG is doubling down on the failed policies of 50 years of planning and building roadways in our region. More and wider roads, more cars, more congestion. Less open space, weaker communities, a weaker economy for both households and government, and more deaths and negative health impacts. This is the most recent example of a car first-last-and-only approach to transportation.
San Diego has many natural advantages that blunt the effects of these poor policies. These will not last forever. Cities such as Vancouver, Seattle, Chicago, New York, Paris, London, Stockholm, and many others showcase the real, tangible benefits derived from creating a livable and safe streetscape and city.
We need a firm, meaningful commitment to healthy, safe, and responsible transport. Cars and bicycles are not equivalent transport. Bicycles are better for safety, health, wealth, and should be put at a higher priority than cars. Chicago Department of Transportation does exactly this by using the following order of priority for transportation:
- Public Transportation
- Private Automobiles
San Diego and SANDAG should take a page from this leading example and do the same, backed up by the allocation of funding and policies. The opposite is the reality.
The lion’s share of all money goes to cars and roadways for cars while all other modes are made to beg for scraps or sue to compel what should be the course being set by our own leaders. We need to create a true network for bikes, starting with University Avenue. It will be a major step forward to improve our city and the individual well-being of our citizens.
More than two and a half years have passed since $200 million was promised for bike projects by SANDAG. … Where do we stand today?
If SANDAG is unable to implement the Uptown bicycle corridor with real, safe bicycle infrastructure throughout this $40 million should be moved to a different neighborhood where such a project can be realized. If you can’t walk the walk, stop talking the talk. Greenwashing is not a substitute for responsible, forward-thinking action.
More than two and a half years have passed since $200 million was promised for bike projects by SANDAG. 77 miles of bikeways in 42 projects was promised to be finished within ten years. Where do we stand today? Without a single foot of paint striped and the first project gutted and providing a maximum of three blocks of protected bike lanes. A poor omen for the future projects, unless the desire to see a bicycle network was not genuine in the first place. Hopefully the remaining projects will see real, on-the-ground results in quick order. I would not hold my breath.
Old Uptowner says
I agree, John, SANDAG has failed us. It began when SANDAG proposed closing the University Avenue ramp at the top of Washington Street to vehicles. What were they smoking? Uptown’s west/east bicycle corridor should have stayed on Washington and gone through Mission Hills business district (after all, one SANDAG goal of this project was to enhance each local economy). Washington Street is much wider than University = more room for bike lanes!
I hoped a state-of-the-art bike bridge could have been built over Highway 163 — great to ride over + it would have promoted Uptown biking. This idea was quickly rejected by the leader of SD’s Bike Coalition.
Over the years, SANDAG has also let Uptown down by not investing in a trolley system along the west side of Balboa Park. This could be used by everyone — seniors, the disabled community, even bicyclists!
Very sad and upsetting but not surprising. While I don’t know exactly what happened, I will take a stab at it that a bunch of drivers who commute there on a daily basis, business owners who truly believe they will lose their customer base due to lack of parking and even non biking residents raised enough of a stink to pretty much ground any plans to put more bike lanes in this area. Even my 85 year old mother (who no longer drives) expressed anger at the recent bike lanes put into her area (Bankers HIll) due to bottle necking traffic as a result of the lanes. As a driver myself (most cyclists also drive) I understand the frustration of being held up and yes there are asshole bike riders who are very inconsiderate and on a daily basis I see them just blowing through stop signs and red lights. That is still not a valid reason for SANDAG to pull back on these plans. Sadly it is what it is. Hopefully someday there will be a re-consideration but until then, cyclists simply have to accept the fact that they are putting themselves at risk in riding some/many of these areas. It’s scary but I’ve talked to many people who are so anti bike that they actually make jokes about cyclists getting killed or injured.
bob dorn says
How ’bout a massively funded capitalist p.r. campaign? I’d give $5 a couple of times to a programmed “educational” attack on SANDAG that included paradisiacal view of University and Park AFTER that desert expanse in the BEFORE photo that tops this story were altered to accommodate people on foot and bike. Take another look at the photo, people. Does that look like America’s Finest?
Ah, but that’s the point, isn’t it? – They crave the bland platitude, but could care less about exerting themselves to realize the serious substance. Alas, as noted elsewhere, ’twas ever thus…
Why is this city so h***bent on remaining so d***ably BACKWARD, that it even BOASTS about it?
Cuz it’s San Diego.
I think the real solution is more non biking people need to care about the safety of those who DO ride, otherwise laws will never change and the needed infrastructure will never develop very far beyond what it already has. How to make people who don’t ride actually give a shit about those who do is the challenge and I don’t have an answer to that.
Good article, SANDAG is so last century…so car-oriented…bottle-necked…
San Diego has the potential to be the most amazing eco-city in the world, but, Putting bicyclists in the same category as motorists is counter-productive dangerous….
Bicyclists, for the most part, are rolling pedestrians…
On the roads: yield to motorists, on the sidewalks: yield to pedestrians…flow.
What we need in San Diego are CONNECTIONS…To the beaches, airport, downtown, universities, future rail, along the canyon/river ways and bike over-passes of congested car zones or hills and valleys…like we are doing…
A key bikable path for our city, that for the moment is totally underdeveloped, from Downtown north/south (following historical paths) would be India St/ San Diego Ave/Old Town, Fiesta island/Morena Blvd spilt….elevated from the flood zone, relatively flat, very bikeable, historical, and except for the chaos of neglected streets and traffic flow from the walls of the I5…. Wonderful.
It would connection everything…
John Anderson says
Micporte – love this idea for a connection North-South. Connecting Pacific Beach and other coastal communities would be a huge win. Riding in PB I’ve been amazed at how many others are out riding around Mission Bay, Boardwalk, and to and from the shops along Garnet and Mission Boulevard.
Also been meaning to write up something about how Pacific Beach is a great community. Been sad to hear all the denigration lately (mostly in regard to the Airbnb / STR debate) but also in general about how it’s just for partiers, etc. Thanks for speaking up about how much more there is to PB.
Don Wood says
One of the most dangerous ideas I’ve seen to date are “sharrows’, the
proposition that if SANDAG and local governments simply paint little
pictures of bicycle riders on given street lane, the drivers of two ton
cars and trucks, distracted by texting, drug and/or booze, will suddenly become more aware and accommodating of bike riders. It appears to me to be a recipe for more traffic deaths. Separate bike paths need to be developed off our streets and roads.
Jacqueline King says
Thank you Don.
It’s not so much about being distracted by texting, drugs or booze but more about the fact that they (the drivers) won’t care about the markings on the street.
bob dorn says
bob dorn says
… that was meant to be Thank you, Don.
I think there needs to be s more vocal artument that bike lanes while they may take away more of what precious little parking their is will actually INCREASE business traffic. Jeff Motch (owner of The Blind Lady, Tiger Tiger, and Panama 66) sums it up perfectly here. http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/bike-policy-2/uptown-might-be-warming-to-bike-infrastructure/
a, not s.
Dolores Dempsey says
I appreciate the frustration of bike riders. I myself do not ride so much anymore, being older, and fearful of the traffic. It is sad that SANDAG cannot have more study and meetings for input from bicyclists, but also project planners to be realistic about the ideas mentioned here. Washington I think is the answer, and be it elevated, or using median as bike lanes, there has just got to be a way. I always thought closing University was such a bad idea, because it only feeds into Washington anyway, 2/3rd of the way up the hill. This is a Washington/University exit, and hard to split the two to make room on University. Plus, cutting off easy access to a whole neighborhood from the top of University. I don’t think there were back room deals, I think they just didn’t go about this in the right way. Quickly announcing what they decided to do, without proper input to begin with. I truly hope this will be thought out and brought to a truly great inclusion for bicyclists through our corridor.
John Anderson says
My impression of a back room deal is due to the plan that was voted on at the SANDAG meeting was very different from the various plans presented over more than 2 years of public meetings and comments and to my knowledge was developed after the end of public input. I could be mistaken, but that is the case from everything I’ve read and heard and I believe it to be accurate.