Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Support for bike lanes growing in Uptown.

We had a great turn-out in support of the Bike Project last night at the Uptown Planners meeting.  It was standing room only, with two extra rows of chairs to accommodate everyone.  

A few highlights:
  •           It was standing room only, and the crowd was overwhelmingly in favor of the bike project.
  •          The President of the Hillcrest BID said that if this project was going to happen, they wanted it to be a world-class project, with all the features and benefits other cities have; that we should be a model!
  •           A woman who’s a resident of Hillcrest, pointed out that DC and Denver where she’d previously lived had great bike lanes, making it safe and easy to get around.  She said San Diego needs to step up and act like the size city it is, meaning, we can’t act like we’re a little cow town anymore.  Bike lanes are what transform cities allowing for more growth, more density, and better livability.
  •          The Cashbah’s publicist was completely in favor of it, because she knows, there’ s no parking around them, so anything that offers new ways to bring customers to their events is good for business.
  •           A local resident and cyclist who commutes through Uptown brought up a few academic and business studies that show bikelanes bring more business to communities.  He also reminded everyone we have entered a new era, and that the old model of traditional car-centric community focus is over.  There’s simply no more room to plan around cars. 
  •           Another  local resident on the Mesa in Mission Hills, was in support of the project, but wanted to make sure Washington Street was safe; he said he and his wife would more likely walk down to Five Points more for dinner or drinks if it was safer.
  •          I spoke about making it a green project to help stop polluted water entering our creeks and bays; I also talked about the speedstudy which had audible gasps from audience members.  Clearly this project will bring much-needed calming to Washington.

All in all, over 20 people spoke, with only a few dissenters who mostly lamented the loss of potential parking. 

Those few dissenters made their points.

One guy said that cycling is for white people only.  I didn’t catch it entirely, so feel free to comment with what he actually said.  But the representative of Center City Advisory Group who has attended all of SANDAG’s bike project meetings cleared that up for the crowd and pointed out that studies show minorities often don’t have the extra funds to operate a car, and that biking allowed them to get to jobs. 

Another couple said that narrowing Washington Street canyon’s lanes might be challenging for ambulances.  Her point was that it might be harder for her to pull over.  I see what she’s saying, but frankly we pull over in traffic in crowded busy streets now, and yes, it’s hard to turn your steering wheel for sure.  BUT we do it. 

A manager of an apartment complex in Five Points read a letter from a resident saying that there is not enough parking now, and that any loss of parking will be even worse.  He’s right, but I think it’s also important to consider parking from the standpoint of availability vs. convenience.  Parking will still be available.  People may just need to walk further.  That is a hazard of density.

Another woman pointed out that some funds should be used for parking.  I wanted to explain it’s a bike project, not a parking project.  And, for the umpteenth time that parking will actually open up if people can get there via bicycle safely.

Five Points folks, (some of them Board members,) pointed out the loss of parking also; that if there was reduced parking, then their sales would be reduced, and sales taxes to the City would be less.  One person even considered some businesses might go out of business.  His fears are unfounded though –all studies point to increased business.  And Beth, the project manager from SANDAG has said she will get the parking in Five Points figured out. I trust her to keep her word.

One Board member pointed out that if we want an environment like New York City, which is known for density and biking, then we should all go live there.  This seemed slightly ridiculous.  From a literal standpoint it’s very disrespectful towards residents who value our community and want to see it grow and thrive to tell them to leave. Secondly, given that he sits on a land-use and planning board that is about to approve increased density all over Uptown…. I mean, can we arguably approve density without approving alternate modes of travel?  What exactly does he think parking will be like in a few years when density really hits?

What do you think?  Can we allow for increased density, but not allow for alternate modes of travel? Does density planning automatically mean alternate travel modes must be considered?  Or do we just keep approving density without considering alternate forms of transport?  I'm not an expert, so please enlighten me.


  1. Great summary of both the for and con arguments.

    The for arguments seem much more grounded in rational thought and evidence with an eye to the longer term horizon. Conversely, the con arguments are much more grounded in personal fear without evidence and focused only on the short term, not recognizing long-term consequences of increased density without alternative transportation modes.

  2. Thanks, John. Yeah, data is good.

    Voice has a good summary too:

    I love the part about, 'people who use bikes should move to NY.'