Coronado Puts The Brakes On All Future Bike Lanes After Resident Complaints
Coronado’s wide streets, slow traffic and bike paths make it a haven for cyclists. It won a national award for bike friendliness in 2013 and leads the county in the percentage of people who bike to work, according to census data. In a grant application last year, the city reported that 70 percent of its students walk or bike to school.
Cycling was supposed to get even easier as the city rolled out its 2011 Bike Master Plan, which calls for 12 more miles of bike paths.
Then at a City Council meeting last week, residents started putting on the brakes. Although the proposed bike markings would not eliminate parking spaces or driving lanes, they still had complaints. They did not like how the bike lanes would look.
“You are covering Coronado with paint stripe pollution,” said resident Gerry Lounsbury.
“The graffiti on the streets does not help our property values,” declared Aileen Oya.
The lanes “bring to mind a visual cacophony that if you look there long enough it will induce a dizzying type of vertigo,” said Carolyn Rogerson.
Gerry MacCartee asked if the community couldn't think of a better option than “these black streets with these brilliant white lines everywhere because believe me, it takes away from your home, from your outlook on life.”
And Darby Monger crafted an analogy to describe the addition of bike lanes to her beloved city.
“It’s very similar to personally taking all three of my daughters to a tattoo parlor and having them completely body tattooed,” she said.
After public comment, the City Council voted to suspend all new proposed bike lanes.
"I still believe in bike lanes, but we as a council have said we’re not going to force them down the throats of people who don’t want them," said Coronado Mayor Casey Tanaka.
Although the City Council had already approved the Bike Master Plan and in April voted to award a contract for painting new lanes, they took up the issue again last week because of residents’ complaints, Tanaka said.
"What the public wants, they should get, and unless what they’re asking for is illegal or unethical, it’s my job to help the public meet its needs or meet its goals," he said.
Andy Hanshaw, the director of the nonprofit advocacy group San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, also spoke at the meeting to urge council members to approve the lanes.
He said he's never before heard residents argue against bike lanes because of aesthetics.
"The important thing to remember here is that bicycle markings are about safety," he said.
Between 2005 and 2013 there were 803 collisions between bicycles and cars, motorcycles, or trucks in Coronado, according to state data. Seven were fatal and 48 caused severe injury.
Those same years there were 483 bicycle collisions in El Cerrito, a Bay Area city with about the same population. There were 50,558 collisions between bicycles and motorized vehicles in San Diego in the same time frame.
"There needs to be a higher priority for bike and pedestrian safety for this city and for cities all across the county," Hanshaw said.
City officials will now work to update the Bike Master Plan and bring it back to the City Council. Tanaka said he then wants to let residents vote on it next year.