Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sandag should invest even more in bike lanes!

I-5 at Midtown.  Photo courtesy of Great Streets San Diego.

Great article yesterday on the judge's ruling against Sandag's regional transportation plan.  Why?  Because it really asks Sandag to re-address transportation in a more holistic sense.  We simply can't keep widening freeways as a means to addressing transport.  Widening a highway works temporarily to accommodate our cars, but within a few years as more cars use the road, we are back to square one and we've wasted money on infrastructure that isn't meeting our needs. Again.

If I worked for Sandag, I would look at all public transport options and simply increase them: more routes, increased schedules, more connectivity.  I would also add more bike lanes, and find ways to connect all public transport with biking.  If we really want to be a city of connected villages, we must integrate our public transport options into how we get around.  With Sandag's regional bike upgrade plan, they are doing a good job, but we could do even better by having more lanes, better lanes, and really promoting biking as a means of transport.

I would also reduce the daily fee to use our current public transport.  It used to be $5.00 to use any public transport for the entire day.  And this is a great option for tourists, or someone who doesn't get out much, but a friend was telling me it's now increased to $7.00.  The website still says $5.00 however.  Either way, I think this all day pass would see more traction if it was only $2-3.00.

If we have billions of dollars to widen freeways, we have billions of dollars to increase public transport, and get people out of their cars, which improves air quality, improves community, improves our health by exercising, and all which ultimately improves our lives.  San Diego simply can't lose by investing in more and better public transport.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Remember to walk San Diego and rate our streets by 10/25!

We got the following reminder to rate the streets of San Diego, especially in Uptown, where people like to walk and bike!

Hello Walk Scorecard Volunteers!  
Our deadline is approaching.  Please forward this to your friends, neighbors, and colleagues.
Can you spare 30 minutes this weekend? WalkSanDiego is creating a walkability scorecard for every city in San Diego County. There are thousands of streets to be rated, and WE NEED YOUR HELP TO DO IT BY OCTOBER 25! But we have a very cool tool for you to use.
BestWALK is the only phone app of its kind! We developed it to help you rate how walkable your local streets are. The app is free, it works on iPhone and Android, it's available in Spanish or English, and it’s easy & fun to use. The ratings you provide will help us rank all cities in San Diego County. But we need the data by October 25 for this year's ratings.
We’re asking all our friends and supporters to download the app and rate at least 5 streets this weekend (10 if you're up for the challenge!). It will only take you five or six minutes per street. So give us 30 minutes this weekend and we'll rate your town. How will your city stack up against others? Stay tuned to find out!


Robert D. Felix |  Volunteer Outreach Coordinator |  WalkSanDiego |  740 13th Street, Suite 502  |  San Diego, CA 92101
Promoting Walkable Communities

Friday, October 12, 2012

Tours of Washington Street in Mission Hills

Scary intersection at Washington Street and India in Mission Hills. Let's plant some trees in the medians!  

We are going to start giving tours of the Washington Street canyon area.  This is to solicit feedback from the community on what features we would like for the SANDAG regional bike plan upgrade.

Last night at the Mission Hills Town Hall meeting, people were very enthusiastic about upgrading the road because as the gateway to Mission Hills, it will mean significant improvements for the canyon, especially safety and aesthetics!  Can you imagine if those medians were planted with beautiful native trees?

Gerrie Trussel from the BID told me the business owners would like to see more parking spaces.  And yes, more parking in the area is needed.  But of course the project is not about creating parking, it's about getting people out of their cars, and using foot and pedal power!  Naturally though, we want to accommodate everyone in our community, so we would like to try to squeeze in more room for those in their automobiles.

The tour schedule is listed in the link above, and I will add to it as needed, but the first one will be tomorrow, Saturday 10/13 at 10a.m. outside Gelato Vero.  It will last approximately 30-45 minutes and we'll cover all issues from crosswalks, to hillside plants, to yes - parking!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Washington walkers wanted!

WalkSanDiego has developed a Regional Walk Scorecard and is looking for volunteers across the region to use their new smart phone app (called BestWalk) and input data on what it’s like to walk in our neighborhoods.

So to help, we are organizing volunteers to walk along Washington Street and other parts of the area to document walking conditions. Our efforts will contribute to a regional map of walk improvements that we can use to advocate for future funding across San Diego.  And of course, we'll use the scorecard to see how Washington Street fares.

We will spend 1-2 hours Friday, 10/5 documenting walking conditions.  We will meet on the corner of India and Washington Street at 4pm. And then maybe we'll have dessert at Brooklyn Girl because after that exercise we will have earned it!  

Please see the flyer, and if you are interested in Walking The Wash to document conditions as you find them, please let me know.  If you don’t have a smart phone, you can still download a scorecard from their site.  

Please note: if you want to download the app, you need to sign up on Walk San Diego's site as a volunteer, and then they will notify you when it's ready for download.

UPDATE 9:/24: We've got 4 volunteers so far!  Join us!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Funding for LID elements through Prop 84

Exciting news: we started the process to apply for grant funding for all the Low Impact Development elements on Walk The Wash via Prop 84.  Below is our 1-page concept document.  LID is the wave of the future and is certain to become the norm.

Prop 84-Round 2 Implementation Grant Opportunity
Project Concept Form
Please complete form and return to Rosalyn Prickett 
by Friday August 24, 2012.
This Project Concept Form allows you to describe the general concept for your water management project, including any potential integration opportunities. We will compile the project concepts and discuss their merits at the Strategic Integration Workshop on September 12th.
1.      Project Title
LID technologies added to SANDAG Master Bicycle Plan on Washington Street in Mission Hills
2.      Project Sponsor
Surfrider Foundation, San Diego Chapter
Contact Name
Belinda Smith (Secretary, Mission Hills Town Council; Co-Chair Know Your H2O, Surfrider Foundation.)
Belinda @ surfridersd org
3.      Project Description
(100 words or less)
Washington Street will receive improvements in the form of bicycle and pedestrian facilities as prioritized in the SANDAG Regional Bike Plan.  KOA Corporation will begin the design and preliminary engineering in September 2012 through a contract with SANDAG. The project needs LID technologies to infiltrate and manage storm water runoff via bioswales or contouring, curb cuts, native vegetation to restore habitat and improve the storm water quality, and permeable paving where appropriate.  All of these elements will improve
the quality of surface water flowing into the canyon and reduce the volume of runoff discharging into the canyon, storm drains, and surrounding bays and beaches.

4.      Project Timeline
(check one)
Begin Construction/Implementation 2014-2015

Begin Construction/Implementation 2016 or later
5.      Project Location
Washington Street from the Trolley Stop to 3rd Ave in Hillcrest.  (City of SD)
6.      Need for Project
(100 words or less)
Washington Street runs the length of a major canyon artery from the airport up to Hillcrest.  During winter storms the street transports an enormous amount of storm water runoff resulting in flooding, debris and pollution in the canyon/watershed, habitat degradation, and community access.  This project proposes to restore those elements in a holistic way.  Currently there is no way to manage the enormous amount of runoff from the slopes of the canyon 
bringing sediment into the storm drains, destroying habitat, and adding polluted stormwater to the creeks, bays and ocean. Decreased runoff will restore the canyon watershed area creating improved hydrologic conditions.
7.      Project Type
(check all that apply; however, be judicious)

Water Supply (including Conservation)

Water Quality / Stormwater
Natural Resources and Watersheds
Flood Control

8.      Integration Opportunities*
(100 words or less)
Integration partners: SANDAG Regional Bike Plan, Surfrider Foundation, Five Points CDC, and Mission Hills Town Council. Other partners could include Uptown Planners, and City planning groups which address habitat restoration, community open space access, storm water LID projects and recreational programs in the areas adjacent to the proposed project.
It can also be counted as another regional demonstration project that uses LID technologies which Surfrider can use to teach urban planners, landscape architects, urban gardeners, etc., who need example sites throughout the county.
Further beneficial uses include more park-like settings adjacent to the road and enhanced connection of the top and bottom of Mission Hills resulting in better community feeling and contributing to implementation of the multi- modal, conservation and recreation policies embodied in the City of San Diego's General Plan.
* Developing integrated project solutions ensures a greater level of benefits for the region and makes your project more viable within the IRWM grant program. Integration includes:
          Partnerships – Establishing partnerships with other organizations can be cost effective by sharing data, resources, and infrastructure
          Resource Management – Employing multiple resource management strategies within a single project can effectively address a variety of issues
          Beneficial Uses – Project solutions can be implemented to support several different beneficial uses
          Geographic – Implementing watershed- or regional-scale projects can benefit from economies of scale
         Hydrologic – Addressing multiple watershed functions within the hydrologic cycle can resolve conflicts between beneficial uses

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

3 feet needed when passing cyclists?

There's pending legislation before our California Senators which proposes a 3' space between cars and cyclists.

"State Assembly is expected to vote Friday on a bill that would require all drivers to give bicyclists at least 3 feet of space when they pass them.
The bill, SB 1464 ,would also require drivers to slow to a “reasonable and prudent” passing speed when the distance is not possible. It also permits drivers to, when safe, move into the oncoming traffic lane to provide the required space. Anyone who violates the proposed law would get hit with a $35 fine; and if a cyclist is injured due to a violation, the fine goes up to $220.
Read more from Marlene Medford's patch article.  
Three feet seems reasonable.  Isn't that what most prudent drivers would allow anyway?  

9/7 Update: SB 1464 passed and now we need to urge Governor Brown to sign it into law.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Three Hour Tour

We had a great tour of Walk the Wash with Beth from SANDAG, Seth from KOA, Jasper, Sharon, and myself who are all on the Mission Hills Town Council.

KOA is the firm hired by SANDAG to do the implementation.  Seth is a local resident (Normal Heights) and knows the arteries of Mission Hills well.  He lived in Hillcrest 10 years too.  He's done work in Little Italy, and his firm is doing very cutting edge things in Long Beach currently.

We all met at Gelato Vero at 9 a.m.

Ideas from our discussion and brainstorming during the tour:

- the gateway to our Mission Hills community is very car-centric, and finding a balance of more parking, less freeway feeling, more access for pedestrians and cyclists is our challenge.

- the connector between Washington and Old Town is one way.  It would be a major victory to have 2-way auto traffic on San Diego Ave.  Because this is a bike project though, what if we at least had a 2-way bike path to Washington? Anyone who lives in Old Town or N Mission Hills who wants to go downtown, or to the India St. North area, rides down Pringle to SD Ave.  Then they cut through SD Ave illegally.  The legal route would take a rider 1 mile out of their way, and includes several hills, and across some major freeway off and on-ramps. Shouldn't bikers be able to get from North Mission Hills to the 5 Points Area in the most intuitive, convenient manner?

While we were standing there, evaluating the options, we encountered this man, riding his bike the wrong direction on the one-way portion, and then he rode on the curb when he ran into traffic.

Seth watches a cyclist ride the wrong way down a one-way street.

- Washington Street from the 5 off ramps continues it's freeway like feel.  Cars have to wait at long lights at the 5 Points intersection, so when it's their turn to go, they are eager to get up the hill.  Accelerating both up and down it beyond normal speeds is pretty typical.  I know because I've done it myself!  But when you're walking or biking we need the opposite to happen.  What if Washington was 1 lane either way?  That would allow for bike lanes, and more parking for the 5 Points businesses, which are a destination point for many.  What if the lights at India and Washington were not lights but round-abouts?  That could keep traffic moving too.  The lights are so long at Washington that if I'm ever leaving a parking spot outside Saffron, I have to wait for the light to change because of the back-up of traffic.  An island would keep that traffic moving, and facilitate better parking flow.

- the University exit serves very little purpose because it exits right into a very residential area.  What if we made that exit and on-ramp open only to bikes and pedestrians with a pocket park at the top?  What if cars coming up to Mission Hills and Hillcrest stayed on Washington all the way to Goldfinch?   They could access the uptown business district more easily, and the residences would have less traffic, and less noise.  The top of the street would be turned into a cul-de-sac.  It has great views down the canyon and into the harbor.  It is a natural place for a park, and if it had things like a water fountain and a bench, it would be a beautiful place to start a work-out, or take a walk.

Let's close this area off to cars. It's a residential area.  Let's make a small park, and start our  bike and pedestrian paths here.

- the Washington Street Trolly stop is orphaned by the freeway, and the traffic intersections.  Could we integrate it better?  Would people use it more if they could access it better?  The old Mission Brewery buildings are beautiful, but cut off from the community.  So is the skate park.  Would art along the underpass, and better sidwalks and medians provide more continuity? 

The folks at Gelato Vero had input too:
- can we please have a left-turn from Washington to India on a green arrow only?
- can we please have no right on red from India to Washington?
They witness really bad accidents on a regular basis.  A roundabout traffic island could mitigate those.  And it would provide a major landmark for a welcoming experience to the gateway of Mission Hills.

All of these points are just ideas.  All of them are from voices of the community.  If you have ideas, you should let us know by contacting us.

Thanks to Beth and Seth for both working on the weekend!  We appreciate it!

Friday, July 27, 2012

The NY Times has a great article about how cyclists are wearing cameras on their heads to capture accidents and auto drivers' behavior more accurately.  The video of a hit and run in the article is shocking and when you see it, you realize why cyclists sometimes call cars 'weapons of mass destruction'.
My friend Sara sent me the article and said, "I want a nonprofit to fund thousands of these cameras, and a legal fund to enforce to the maximum extent against negligent vehicles."  

How about we just put up a barrier to keep cars in their own lane, and make biking safer?  

You can read the entire article here. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Services = Smart Growth

Image courtesy NRDC.

Last night at the Uptown Community Planners meeting there were some good presentations about the pitfalls of density.  The presenters say that Smart Growth isn’t smart because it brings more traffic, more air pollution, overcrowding of parks, more parking problems, and noise conflicts.  Normally I’d agree because it sounds logical, but the whole point of Smart Growth is to offer more community services like public transport, bike lanes, and greater integration of park areas.  Services are the smart side of any growth plan because services help mitigate the negatives of growth impacts. If people feel safe riding their bike to the store, they could choose it over a smog-producing car.  To feel safe, they need a clearly allocated lane to the store.  But if there are no safe paths, they will always choose their car.  Services = smart growth.

Our planners are doing a pretty good job of identifying services, but they need to call out these services in their plan and list all the smart services offered in conjunction with maps and zoning plans.  To alay the fears of long-time community dwellers used to larger open space and less traffic they need to show increased bus schedules, and open spaces allocated for future parks.  They need to work with the people at TripTracker who are seeing huge increases in recorded bike trips and get the word out how people will choose bicycles for short trips over cars if given the opportunity.  And our urban planners need a solid roll-out plan once the services are up and running so the community knows the services are available and actually uses them.  This is the last part of any good plan, and sometimes it gets forgotten and then everyone thinks the planning failed. It didn't fail, it just didn't rolled out properly and then it takes forever for people to get on board and use the services.   


BTW, if anyone participated in bike to work day this year, SANDAG would like feedback via their survey.  Friday 7/20 is the last day to fill it out.  If you do complete it, you will be entered into their drawing for a great prize. (Zoo tix or Spa days.)

From their email: 
Thank you for your participation in Bike to Work 2012. We had a record-breaking Bike to Work Day, with more than 7,200 cyclists participating. Overall, there were 18,202 bike trips recorded in TripTracker in May, totaling 137,700 miles, enough for 5.5 trips around the earth. We are excited about the results and thank you for making them a reality!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Status update and download the flyer.

Share the flyer with your family and neighbors.  

This post is to address 2 things: a status update and to let you know there is a flyer you can download and share with friends.

1.  Status 6/25:

  • Funding: as of today, there is funding for our project thru the San Diego Master Bicycle Plan.    A very good map of SANDAG's proposed network is included.   The budget for the entire project is $249 million, and this is to cover the entire network over a period of 10 years.
  • Location: the portion we are addressing in Mission Hills is roughly from the Trolley stop at Washington,  to about 3rd Street/University area.  It also includes a small part of San Diego Ave over to California Street.  But again, this is all open for discussion, and depends on priorities, and feature requests, etc.  
  • Design:  Currently the only 'design' that exists is the proposed bicylce network.  Actual features have not yet been developed.  Requests for features of the bicycle portion are being handled through Bikely.  Instructions are clear enough, but it's unclear if the general public knows to submit them.  We'll have to do some outreach and see.  All other features can be submitted here through the blog.  
  • Schedule: Roughly there will be a year of design and study, and then a little over a year of implementation.  This is a very broad time-frame, as things are obviously just getting started.  
  • Scope: SANDAG is really supportive of taking a holistic approach, which means if we can implement important connectors like public transport, and add features like pedestrian walkways, and add some green features, it is a win for everyone.  

2.  Share the flyer:

We now have a flyer you can download, and share with your friends and neighbors. If you are a resident of the area, please post it on your refrigerator so that your family and neighbors know about it.  If you are a business, and you have a spot to post it like a bulletin board or a bathroom door, please do so.  Thank you!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Mission Hills BID votes to support our project!

Great little meeting this week at the Mission Hills BID.  After a short presentation, and some Q and A, the board voted to support our project.  Thank you Mission Hills BID! 

A few of the questions that came up:
- Can we save the parking at the bottom of the canyon?  The businesses on India Street do not have enough.  (The businesses did just start offering valet service.  $6.00 gets your car parked!)
- Is there any opportunity for more parking?
- Can we see the budget for this project?
- Can we see a map for the proposed site?

These questions keep coming up, so I will try to post the answers in an overview of the project in the coming weeks. 

Personally, I think the parking issue will be handled in few ways once the project is complete:
- people will end up walking or biking down Washington from Mission Hills instead of driving because now it will be safe to do so.  This means more parking will open up. 
- if we can connect the bike lane and better pedestrian walkwasy to the Washington Street Trolley, this is one more way people can patronize the businesses on India.
- if we create parking in some of the empty lots down by the trolley station, it would be helpful for the businesses, and anyone using the trolley.  

The budget for the entire SANDAG bicycle plan is $249 million.  I will try to find a copy of it and post it here.

The map is in the Bicycle Master Plan.  It is the proposed map of where the planners think the lanes should be.  Because we are early in the planning process, there is time to consider what makes the most sense for our community, so talking about what our needs are is really important. 

If you had to create more parking for the businesses at the bottom of Washington and India, where would you put it? 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Presentation at Mission Hills BID committee mtg tonite

Beth from SANDAG and I will be at this afternoon's Mission Hills BID mtg at the Frame Maker on Reynard  Way.  Meeting starts at 3:15.

Each of us will give a short summary overview and then take notes on feedback from the committee.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Presentation tonight for Mission Hills BID Economic Development Committee

A simple curb cut allows stormwater to flow into plant area.  This is FREE water and cuts down on irrigation costs, stormwater flooding and maintenance, recharges groundwater supplies, and keeps our oceans cleaner for a healthy tourist experience.  Water flows in from road through little channel cuts. Photo provided courtesy of  Zach Beaulieu's blog.

We have our first presentation of Walk The Wash tonight to the committee that works on Economic Development for the Mission Hills Business Improvement District.

How would Walk The Wash improve business and economics in Mission Hills?

  • Easier access via pedestrian walk-ways, and bike lanes mean increased patronage of businesses at the bottom and the top of the hill, especially India and Goldfinch Streets, and beyond.
  • If more people are able to walk and bike to these businesses from the local area, there will increased parking availability allowing for new patrons to park and utilize the shops and businesses.  
  • Safer streets are more inviting, and mean more people get out to patronize the businesses.
  • If the project incorporates the Trolley station and/or includes parking near it, folks could take the train in from other areas in the County, and then walk to India Street businesses or walk/take the bus up the hill to Mission Hills, Hillcrest, and Normal Heights.     
  • Increased access to the Washington Street public trolley means reduced traffic all over our community.
  • Decreased urban runoff means cleaner beaches for our tourist economy.
  • Decreased stormwater flooding reduces maintenance costs in our community.
  • Managing the local stormwater via curb cuts into planted areas instead of down stormwater drains means trees and plants get free water, and produce more shade and cooling effects in a hot urban area.
  • Less impact to sewer flows is more economical, and has less maintenance costs and project ‘downtime’ to the community. 
  • Groundwater recharge keeps plants and habitat supported, conserves water, and keeps the environment healthy.
  • Revitalization of a very urban/traffic-centric corridor gives a stronger feeling of community, which means a stronger value for homes and businesses.
  • Native and low-water use plants thrive on stormwater-based irrigation, and allows Mission Hills to have a unique sense of place that gives our community a distinctive look.
  • The Arbor Day Foundation has proven that homes and neighborhoods with trees have higher property values.
Washington Street is a major gateway to our community and sets the tone for its look and feel and how we view our community.  Do you think Walk The Wash can have more business impacts not listed here?  Please feel to add your comments.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rubberized Asphalt Concrete Reduces Noise Pollution

Photo courtesy of eHow, "Types of Joints in Concrete".

I was talking to a friend who is a professional surveyor.  We were speaking about urban planning, Mission Hills, Walk The Wash etc etc, and then he mentioned how much noise pollution is created by the thump, thump, thump of the cars driving up and down Washington Street.  I agreed wholeheartedly with him, and asked what causes that?  He explained that on that part of the street in the canyon the road is concrete, not asphalt.  While concrete is long-lasting, it's not very absorbent to noise, and any kind of joint or cracks in it seem to create a small barrier in the road so as tires hit it, the noise sounds like a big THUMP!  With multiple cars driving up and down, this thumping becomes an on-going loud vibration disturbing everyone living, working, and visiting around the canyon.

One option would be to consider repaving it with rubberized asphalt concrete.  RAC is made partly with recycled tires, so it's considered green.  RAC can reduce traffic noise by 5 decibels!   And because between 2000-8000 tires are used in a typical 4-lane mile-long road, California reduces it's tire waste.  There is a great fact sheet online about it.  It's also green in that it reduces a huge amount of noise pollution!  If we wanted to use this amazing recycled material on Washington Street, we could apply for one of several grants to help fund the upgrades.

I'm not sure if RAC is standard use for San Diego yet, but wouldn't it be nice to get the benefits of this type of material in the canyon on Washington Street?  Do you think it might increase property values surrounding the area?  Would more people sit outside the cafes and restaurants on India and Washington?  Would their experiences at these businesses be better?  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Walk The Wash to be presented at Uptown Community Planners meeting.

Tonight, Mission Hills Town Council President, Lara Gates will be presenting Walk The Wash at the Uptown Planners meeting.

She will be giving some background on the issue, and requesting support for the project. 
We are hoping for a good turn-out as a broad show of support is always helpful.  While everyone knows this would be a good project for our community to make it safer and ultimately more valuable, decision- makers still like to see that the community is behind it.  This is the complete agenda.

Meeting information as per the Uptown Planners website: 

Meeting Date/Time/Location/Agenda:

June 5, 2012
6:00 PM at the  Joyce Beers Community Center, Uptown Shopping District, 3900 Vermont St., San Diego, CA, 92103 

If you cannot attend, you can always submit a public comment in support of the project.  

Hope to see everyone there in support of Walk The Wash!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Washington Street in Mission Hills is a danger zone!

Just ask anyone.  Walking up Washington Street means taking your life into your own hands, and as we talked about it more, we realized something had to be done.

"It's just not safe."
"Cars race up and down there!"
"I felt like I might get hit at any minute walking along the side part!"  (Yes, there's no sidewalk!)

These were some of the phrases friends were saying, so when we saw this article we decided to get involved!

Mission Hills resident, and Town Council President Lara Gates was explaining the problem exactly as we saw it:

  • "We are supposed to be a City of Villages and you can literally not walk down Washington," she says. "It's so scary."
  • "There's a crash here once a week," she says.
  • "Oh! No more bike lane! Sorry!" says Gates sarcastically as dotted lines indicate cyclists should merge back into the flow of vehicle traffic.