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Grand Jury Report: San Diego Needs To Be More Bike-Friendly

Evening Edition

Above: You may be gearing up for this Friday's "Bike to Work Day" - or maybe you're a year-round rider - but either way, you might have some thoughts on San Diego as a bicycle-friendly city - and so does the County Grand Jury. KPBS reporter Tarryn Mento brings us the grand jury report, which was released today.

Aired 5/16/13 on KPBS News.

Whether you're an expert or occasional rider, you might have thoughts about how San Diego measures up as a bicycle-friendly city. So does the San Diego County Grand Jury.

Whether you're an expert or occasional rider, you might have thoughts about how San Diego measures up as a bicycle-friendly city. So does the San Diego County Grand Jury. In its report evaluating the city's efforts to accommodate cyclists, it noted some ares of concern.

Like on Montezuma Road, where 49 cyclists have been hit since 2000.

Jury Foreman Paul Christian said the city can make changes to help keep riders safe.

"Just sweeping the bicycle lanes is a great improvement because of the debris that they sometimes have to avoid by going out into the traffic lanes, which can cause an accident," he said. "Nationwide, the statistics state that 97 percent of all bike and automobile mishaps happen outside of a bicycle lane, so we'd like to keep the bicyclists in the bicycle lanes to keep them safer."

Additionally, the report recommended opening a city bicycle office, separating bicycle from vehicle lanes and increasing the enforcement of traffic laws.

"We found out that through January to August of 2012, there was only 52 citations, and I think we all see bicyclists violating the California traffic code nearly on a daily basis," Christian said.

Executive director of BikeSD and an avid cyclist, Samantha Ollinger was ecstatic about the report.

She said many of the recommendations fall in line with those she advocates for, and she was pleased to see cycling get the attention it deserves.

"The fact that the grand jury is taking a notice of this speaks to the fact that how important of an issue this is from a overall city livability perspective," she said.

The mayor has 60 days to respond to the report, but Ollinger said she's going to bring it up with him the next chance she gets.

Comments

Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | May 15, 2013 at 10:40 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

Cyclists need to learn to follow the laws. Just because you're on a bike doesn't mean stoplights and stop signs don't apply to you.

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Avatar for user 'DIZZY'

DIZZY | May 15, 2013 at 12:10 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

Right on Jean, Bikes are for children to ride, this green crap is out of control. Why don't we spend a couple trillion building bike paths at every road ,highway ,street, and cut a aisle right down the middle of every freeway? This will employ millions of foreign nationals and will benefit our economy?????? The real agenda is to outlaw all gas burning vehicles , put all people in busses where there is rampant crime .

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Avatar for user 'Alex_Grebenshchikov'

Alex_Grebenshchikov | May 15, 2013 at 3:42 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

It's unfortunate that the grand jury has to waste their time on something like this. Riding a bike on a road made for cars is a pretty obvious assumed risk. Go ahead and do it if you want, but you might get hit by a car, especially if you ignore traffic laws and blow through stop lights. It's like telling a young child not to touch the hot burner on the stove. Some kids just have to get burned to learn their lesson. How many cyclists have to get burned before the others learn their lesson? And I am supposed to pay tax dollars to mollycoddle the cyclists so that they don't have to actually suffer the pain of learning bike safety? DIZZY, I fear you might be right, and unfortunately, as we are seeing with the high speed rail project, there are probably people out there who would think it's a great idea to spend a trillion dollars that we don't have for little bike paths covering every square inch of the county.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | May 15, 2013 at 8:28 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

Do you people hate pedestrians as much as you hate bikers?

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Avatar for user 'billdsd'

billdsd | May 15, 2013 at 11:35 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

@Alex_Grebenshchikov: I ride 6000-7000 miles per year and most of it on major roads in San Diego and most of it on roads with no bike lanes. I have been riding on the road since 1971. If your delusions were true, then how is it possible that I am still alive?

Years ago, a scary close call caused me to actually accept that I didn't fully understand bicycle safety so I started studying. I've gone from frequent close calls to none except for the occasional ignorant psychopath who throws a fit and deliberately endangers me because I'm riding in the middle of a travel lane because he is too ignorant of the rules of the road to know that bicyclists can usually ride in the middle of the lane legally or that in the situations where they legally can, they should for safety reasons. I don't have accidental close calls anymore. I haven't had one in years.

San Diego does have a problem with bad road design, especially roads built in the 1950's-70's where many high speed ramps were set up on surface roads. High speed ramps are for freeways, not surface roads. They endanger not only bicyclists but also pedestrians and even motorists. Montezuma was mentioned in the article. It is a hideously bad design. It's also a place where bicyclists even get killed in the bike lane. There is too much emphasis on speed and not enough on safety.

It won't cost trillions. You have no idea what you are talking about. You are just another myopic reactionary who hates anyone who isn't like you.

The single biggest reason that more people don't ride is their fear. Their fear is mostly irrational and a result of ignorance of how to ride safely and a lack of understanding of risk. I don't need paths because I know how to ride safely almost anywhere. However, most beginners won't take a class or even read a book. Paths, however, will make them feel safe and that will get more people riding and that will improve public health rates and reduce traffic congestion and reduce the need to widen roads, reduce the wear on the roads and reduce the need to build more parking. Discouraging bicycling and encouraging everyone to drive will actually cost the taxpayers more.

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Avatar for user 'billdsd'

billdsd | May 15, 2013 at 11:49 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

@JeanMarc: I do follow the laws. Do you? Do you always obey the speed limit? Do you always yield to pedestrians at all crosswalks? Even mid block cross walks? Even unmarked crosswalks at uncontrolled intersections? Police studies estimate that only 1% of drivers comply with that last one. Do you always signal all lane changes and turns? Do you always come to a complete stop at stop signs? Do you always come to a complete stop before making a right on red? If you have a yield sign and there is someone stopped at a stop sign conflicting with you, do you yield?

If you can say yes to all of those, then welcome to a very small club. We welcome you. If you can't, then as they say, people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Every day I see motorists rolling stop signs, rolling right on red, speeding, tailgating, not signalling, not yielding when others have right of way and many other violations. A few times a week I get honked at by people illegally trying to harass me out of the road.

Another thing: I actually know the law as a result of extensive careful study. In my experience, most people don't. People who have a problem with bicyclists in the road never do. I have yet to encounter a single one. I actually carry a copy of some of the more important bicycle laws with me when I ride. It has gotten me out of a ticket from a cop who didn't know the law. I actually had to teach it to her and having a copy of it on me made that a lot easier.

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Avatar for user 'billdsd'

billdsd | May 15, 2013 at 11:53 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

@DIZZY: I'm not sure where to start with you. You're clearly a conspiracy nut. There is no agenda to outlaw cars. There is a gross over-emphasis on cars in transportation policy that needs to be rectified. Cars aren't going away. However, not everyone wants to drive a car everywhere. Not everyone can. Some people have medical issues. Some people have legal issues. There needs to be more accommodation for other modes of transportation. If you want to keep driving then by all means, keep driving. Nobody's trying to stop you. Seriously, ditch the tin foil hat and get some help.

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Avatar for user 'Alex_Grebenshchikov'

Alex_Grebenshchikov | May 16, 2013 at 8:04 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

billsd - I wish more cyclists were as safety conscious as you, and I am glad you have survived all these years.

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Avatar for user 'BEEn_S'

BEEn_S | May 16, 2013 at 8:14 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

If an 8 year old is struck and killed by a car (while "jaywalking"), the driver is liable. But if the 8 year old is on a bicycle, the "cyclist" is liable? You folks need to protect cyclists as pedestrians, otherwise you are uncorking a gray area beyond definition. Drivers should drive defensively no matter what obstacles they may encounter.

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Avatar for user 'Alex_Grebenshchikov'

Alex_Grebenshchikov | May 16, 2013 at 8:43 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

BEEn_S - I don't think the issue is so much that drivers need to protect cyclists as pedestrians, but that cyclists want to behave like cars and be treated like cars. We simply don't have this problem to this extent with pedestrians. There are hundreds of bikes daily riding on the street, going into the middle of the lane to turn left, riding through an intersection instead of using a crosswalk and waiting for a pedestrian signal, etc., whereas I don't, in general, see people participating in these behaviors on foot. In the case of the 8 year old child, a distinction needs to made between an adult and a child, i.e., a child is not expected to be fully cognoscente of the consequences of their behavior (which is why they are supposed to be under the care and supervision of an adult until age 18), but an adult is expected to be able to take care of themselves. I don't think the appropriate solution is treating adult cyclists like little children, so I would have to disagree with you there.

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Avatar for user 'jstech'

jstech | May 16, 2013 at 8:52 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

"going into the middle of the lane to turn left, riding through an intersection instead of using a crosswalk and waiting for a pedestrian signal" <-- These are exactly the right behaviors for a cyclist, and I say that as a nationally certified bicycle safety instructor. Our built environment was designed to favor vehicles, so the safest way to ride a bike is like you would operate any other vehicle.

http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/education/

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | May 16, 2013 at 8:59 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

Except bicycles are much slower than vehicles and offer little protection for their passengers.

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Avatar for user 'jstech'

jstech | May 16, 2013 at 9:05 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

And cars are much faster and cause greater danger to others. So?

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | May 16, 2013 at 9:08 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

jstech thank you for further illustrating my point: Bicycles should not act like cars because they are very, very different than cars.

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Avatar for user 'jstech'

jstech | May 16, 2013 at 9:10 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

I don't claim bicycles are exactly like cars in every way. However, it is safer to ride like a slow-moving vehicle than like a fast-moving pedestrian. For instance, the rule for lane selection on a bicycle is to use the rightmost lane which serves your destination. "Rightmost" because you are typically going slower than traffic. But "serves your destination" means you shouldn't be going straight in a right-turn only lane (or you'll get right-hooked), and you shouldn't make left turns from the right side of the road (or you'll get hit any number of different ways).

http://www.bicycling.com/training-nutrition/injury-prevention/right-hook

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Avatar for user 'jstech'

jstech | May 16, 2013 at 9:15 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

Now, if San Diego were to build modern bicycle infrastructure--like what you find in Europe--there wouldn't be a question of whether bicyclists should act like pedestrians or drivers, because it'd be obvious that they should act like bicyclists. European transportation infrastructure recognizes that bicycles are a third thing and need their own space separate from sidewalks and automobile lanes (at least on major roads--they still share low-speed neighborhood streets). They also design intersections to handle bicycles, typically with their own light phase.

Since bicycles aren't going away, and your'e adamant that they shouldn't use the roads like vehicles, I suggest you advocate for this kind of modern improvement to our roads.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | May 16, 2013 at 2:40 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

Yes, we should spend money on bike paths just like the Europeans, and then our economy will also be just like theirs.

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Avatar for user 'jstech'

jstech | May 16, 2013 at 3:49 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

I don't think transportation is what's weighing down Europe's economy. But if you want us to not spend the money to modernize our infrastructure, then I recommend you become comfortable with sharing the road with bicycles.

Consider it your own little contribution to austerity.

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Avatar for user 'Alex_Grebenshchikov'

Alex_Grebenshchikov | May 16, 2013 at 4:08 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

As an aside, I got all the health benefits of cycling today by taking a spin class, and I didn't have to worry about getting hit by a car once.

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Avatar for user 'billdsd'

billdsd | May 16, 2013 at 8:03 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

I rode 20 miles on the road and I was never worried about being hit by a car either. I bet I had more fun too.

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Avatar for user 'jstech'

jstech | May 16, 2013 at 11:06 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

Why pay someone to sit in a spin class when I can work out for free, and get myself to and from work at the same time?

I don't know where you set the bar for "all the health benefits of cycling," but I did 2 hours of cardio while commuting. How long was your class?

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Avatar for user 'RegularChristian'

RegularChristian | May 17, 2013 at 7:27 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

I also look forward to a more bike-friendly city. Funding biking paths instead of wider roads makes sense for those who want a better quality of life.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | May 17, 2013 at 8:49 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

RegularChristian you mean for those who want a better quality of life on a bike. What if I feel that my quality of life will be better in a car? Why is my quality of life diminished so yours can be improved?

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Avatar for user 'billdsd'

billdsd | May 17, 2013 at 10:48 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

Actually, getting bicyclists onto paths improves your life by getting bicyclists out of your way.

Why does your quality of life depend upon diminishing the quality of life for bicyclists?

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