San Diego Could Build a Connected Protected Bike Lane Network All at Once
Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.
It looks like one of the most exciting bike infrastructure trends of the last few years — going big — could be coming to San Diego.
As reported Monday by Next City, the southernmost major metro on the U.S. West Coast is weighing a proposal to rapidly add an entire connected grid of protected bike lanes to its downtown.
The plan will go along with a big investment in pedestrian infrastructure, too:
The mobility plan calls for 9.3 miles of protected bike lanes and 5.5 miles of pedestrian greenways in the roughly two-square-mile downtown core. The plan defines greenways as expanded sidewalks, “that can serve as linear parks” that include benches, tables, trees and other landscaping. Additionally, the city plans to install new wayfinding signage and curb bulb-outs to shorten street crossings. All told, the city estimates the plan will cost just under $64 million.
Perhaps a sign of how urban planning has evolved, the mobility plan specifically calls out the importance of creating a connected network: “Implementing the network as a whole, rather than individual segments, will improve the effectiveness of the cycleways and establish a well-connected grid of north south and east west protected bicycle facilities that can improve the safety and comfort for cyclists in Downtown.”
The public has until March 11 to weigh in on the project. City Council will vote on whether to adopt it in May.
The combination of major biking and walking upgrades has been repeatedly shown to give positive boosts to retail sales in commercial areas, presumably because they make streets more pleasant to spend time on and easier for more people to reach without a car. This also helps a district free itself from dependence on auto parking, which can itself be great for local retail.
Despite its heavenly climate for biking, San Diego has never been known as a bike capital, presumably because of the hills that surround its central city and the relative lack of bike lanes on its streets. But the city’s flat, gridded downtown is already one of the region’s hubs for biking. And now that California has embraced protected bike lanes at the state level, San Diego is preparing to capitalize on its downtown biking potential.
“We actually have a pretty strong bike culture within the beach community,” Sam Ollinger, executive director of BikeSD, told Next City’s Josh Cohen. “They wouldn’t identify as ‘cyclists.’ It’s just how they get around.”