Recently a KPBS televised City Council meeting in Coronado went viral. Residents of the island approached the councilmembers on September 15, and expressed their disdain for adding more bike lanes to their neighborhood. The proposal would have extended the amount of bike lanes to include 12 more miles.
One homeowner called the safety markings “graffiti” and another compared the street markings to having her daughter go into a tattoo shop and get full body ink.
Another resident complained that if you stare at the bike lanes for too long, you get dizzy; a sense of “vertigo.”
The story became so popular that ABC’s “Late Late Show” made it a part of the host James Corden's opening monologue. In the standup, he mocks the residents of Coronado calling them, “rich, old white ladies.”
“On the scale of problems.” Corden barbs. “The problem of too many bikes ranks somewhere between, my new BMW air conditioner works a little too well, and the Starbucks near my house doesn’t take hundred dollar bills.”
However, the outspoken homeowners must have said something right because Coronado’s city council and mayor Casey Tanaka, overturned a previously approved motion to add more lanes throughout the island town.
This caused a reaction from the San Diego Bicycle Coalition (SDBC), an organization which helps protect the rights of all bicyclists in San Diego.
In a letter to Coronado, sent out by SDBC yesterday, Executive Director Andy Hanshaw addresses his disappointment at the city and their sudden reversal of an already approved plan:
Dear Honorable Mayor and Councilmembers:
The San Diego County Bicycle Coalition is writing in response to the action taken by the Council at its September 15, 2015 meeting and your decision to suspend further bicycle safety markings that were previously approved.
As advocates for bicycle safety throughout the San Diego Region, we are very concerned about the impact that this decision may have on not only the residents of Coronado but the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to the city and ride their bikes there; whether for transportation or recreational purposes.
Coronado is a beautiful city that offers a very enjoyable riding experience for everyone. On any given day, one can witness dozens of families riding along many of the wide, comfortable bike lanes and paths that have been in place or were recently implemented as part of the Coronado Bicycle Master Plan. A plan that seeks to increase ridership and reduce the negative environmental and traffic impacts of automobiles.
The plan will also increase opportunities for active, healthy living in the city and perhaps most importantly improve the overall quality of life for residents and visitors. We believe this is a good plan and we applauded the city for recently taking action to implement the elements of the plan.
So why stop now based on the concerns of a few who seemed to be more concerned with the visual look of bike lanes rather than the actual safety that they provide? It’s unimaginable to think that the city would take steps to decrease the safety of its citizens based on this recent action largely due to the comments that were presented related to the aesthetics of the safety markings.
The City of Coronado recently applied for and received funding for a Safe Routes to School outreach and education campaign that we are very pleased to be partnering with you on. Through this effort, we should be able to teach bicycle safety to thousands of elementary and middle school children in Coronado.
Ironically, it is estimated that some 60-70% of school kids are already biking to school. An incredible number that the city should take pride in; yet this recent decision could compromise any further efforts to improve safety for those riding to school.
We are asking you to please reconsider your actions of the September 15th meeting and continue your previous efforts that were making Coronado a safer, more accessible and bicycle-friendly community which is deserving of its Silver designation of the League of American Bicyclists.
This recent action could not only damage Coronado’s impression for attracting bicyclists but other cities across the region. We strive to make San Diego County one of the safest and best places for anyone to bicycle and we ask you to join us in helping us achieve that vision.
We welcome the opportunity to work together with you and hope that you understand the value and importance for the safety of all who live, work and play in Coronado.
In an already bike-friendly city, the SDBC is making it their goal to continue efforts to accommodate those who choose to pedal rather than drive.
By 2017, the SDBC hopes to add 200 miles of integrated bikeway and supporting facilities with five new bicycle friendly business districts in San Diego.
Timothy Rawles is Community Editor of SDGLN. He can be reached at email@example.com, @reporter66 on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to 888-442-9639, ext. 713.