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COMMENTARY: Will San Diego go big or fall flat with University Avenue bicycle improvements?

The moment of reckoning is upon us and the decision to support cycletracks along University Avenue will happen later today:

June 12, 2013
6 – 8:30 p.m.
Santa Fe Room, Balboa Park Club
2144 Pan American Road West
San Diego, CA 92101

Earlier this year our city council unanimously committed to prioritizing bicycle infrastructure for public safety with a Council Resolution. Prior to the vote, Council President Todd Gloria (who represents District 3 which encompasses all of the uptown neighborhoods went on the record stating he was willing to “eliminate parking to make space for bikes”. But as Gloria went on to state, we can’t simply just be on twitter or facebook and expect change. So we hope all of you reading this make the time this evening to show up at the Uptown Regional Bike Corridor meeting. The Uptown Corridor encompasses the area west of Park Boulevard. See the map below:

Uptown Area under consideration. This is the moment to speak up. Image: SANDAG

Uptown Area under consideration. This is the moment to speak up. Image: SANDAG

 

As a board we have decided to advocate strongly for University Avenue to be the key east/west thoroughfare where we want to see transformative changes. SANDAG’s analysis that will be presented later today will reveal three options of which one will be chosen: Washington Avenue, University Avenue and Pennsylvania/Robinson Avenue.

University Avenue looks like this today:

University Avenue is the main east/west corridor in the Uptown area. Will you support our efforts to transform this key street? Or will bicycle riders be relegated to a side street with no destination to ride by?

University Avenue is the main east/west corridor in the Uptown area. Will you support our efforts to transform this key street? Or will bicycle riders be relegated to a side street with no destination to ride by?

Despite being a street that traverses multiple neighborhoods, many businesses and other key destinations – this street is very people and bike unfriendly. We want University Avenue to be a show stopper. How much of a show stopper? We’d like to see more people out on University Avenue and turn University Avenue into a street that looks like this:

Rotterdam street scenes-9

A street in Rotterdam. Photo Jonathan Maus

Rotterdam street scenes-10

A street in Rotterdam. Photo Jonathan Maus

s-Hertogenbosch-81

A street in Rotterdam. Photo Jonathan Maus

What would it entail for University Avenue to get to cycle tracks like they have in Rotterdam and other world-class bicycling cities? It would mean living in a world where University Avenue has six (6) lanes for motor vehicles, but parking is removed in order to make space for a dedicated cycle track (see last row that is the unconstrained proposal):

Will Unive

Will University Avenue be a street that will make us all proud?

Earlier this year, SANDAG went to the trouble of bringing in Andreas Røhl, Bicycle Program Manager of City of Copenhagen (one of the world’s best cities for bicycling). Copenhagen is one of many cities that has created a system where every single road works for bicycling. During Røhl‘s visit, he made many key points. One of his points: implement a bicycle network, all the way from A to B, “even where it hurts”.

What does it look like to live in one of the world’s most bicycle friendly cities? Streetfilms has a video to give you an idea:

Cycling Copenhagen, Through North American Eyes from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

We understand that removing parking is a painful and even a difficult proposition to consider. However, our elected officials have shown the leadership and said the right things needed to get this discussion going. Instead of being a source of embarrassment like the vocally loud in New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles have been, we as a city have an opportunity to make University Avenue into something that we can all be proud of. How wonderful it would be if we could unanimously support an effort to implement cycle tracks on University Avenue when other cities around the country are creeping along making something as simple as creating a people friendly city street a needlessly complicated process?

We look forward to seeing you all later this evening. Let’s make University Avenue a street worth riding on.