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Cyclist Deaths Bring Bike Safety Resolution Before City Council

UPDATE: The resolution was passed unanimously by the City Council on Tuesday.

The San Diego City Council will decide Tuesday whether to approve a resolution calling for enhancements to bike safety. But while a local bike group helped get the resolution started, they aren’t entirely happy with what it says.

Aired 3/5/13 on KPBS News.

The San Diego City Council will decide Tuesday whether to approve a resolution calling for enhancements to bike safety. But while a local bike group helped get the resolution started, they aren’t entirely happy with what it says.

Lorie Zapf

City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf's proposal for green bike lanes on Balboa Avenue.

In early January, a cyclist was killed on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard near the Interstate 805 onramp. That death led Sam Ollinger, the head of the cycling advocacy group BikeSD, to ask the City Council to address bike safety.

“We said the streets were too dangerous to ride on, especially the off-ramps and on-ramps, and they needed to be redesigned so that people didn’t die when they got hit by vehicles traveling at high speeds,” she said.

Another cyclist was killed a year earlier, also at an I-805 ramp on Balboa Avenue, Ollinger said.

So Ollinger contacted Lorie Zapf, the councilwoman for the district where the cyclists died. Zapf agreed to put together a resolution to address bike safety.

The resolution goes before City Council Tuesday, but it doesn’t say anything specific about bike lanes around highway on- and off-ramps. That is disappointing to Ollinger.

“I was hoping to really see that the city would commit to redesigning freeway on-ramps to make bicycling less dangerous,” she said. “I suppose this is a first step. I’m pretty new to this and I don’t understand how all of this works.”

But Zapf said highway ramps fall under the state’s control, so there isn’t much the city can do. She is working on a plan for a green bike lane on Balboa Avenue, which makes the lane more visible to drivers.

Zapf said the resolution is a starting point on bike safety and signals to other city departments to prioritize cycling.

“What we’re saying is don’t just look at our roadways from the perspective of car travel, but look at the perspective of a holistic way of carrying people,” she said.

For example, she said, she would like to see more bike paths in the Qualcomm area.

“As they’re widening a road or improving a road, to make sure they’re incorporating bike paths into their plan,” she said.

Drafting a resolution also helps city departments go after grant money, Zapf said.

The City Council will decide whether to approve the resolution at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Comments

Avatar for user 'wpstoll'

wpstoll | March 5, 2013 at 9:15 a.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

Claire,
Ironically, the name of the Boulevard is spelled "Clairemont," after developer Claire Burgener. "Claremont" is the college town northeast of LA.

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Avatar for user 'Claire Trageser'

Claire Trageser, KPBS Staff | March 5, 2013 at 10:13 a.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

Right you are! Should have known, given my name. It's corrected now, thanks!

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