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San Diego Moves To Create ‘Mobility Board’ To Advise On Transportation

A bicyclist surrounded by cars rides on a street in downtown San Diego in thi...

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Above: A bicyclist surrounded by cars rides on a street in downtown San Diego in this undated photo.

San Diego City Council members Wednesday advanced a plan to create a new "city mobility board" that would advise officials on efforts to improve transportation.

The council's Rules Committee voted unanimously to move ahead with the proposal from Councilman Chris Ward, who said the current approach to mobility in the city was not well coordinated.

"The onset of innovative bikeway designs, shared bicycle and scooter options, the prospect of self-driving vehicles and who knows what's next is always having us thinking and experiencing transportation differently," he said. "We need to really start to approach this holistically."

The proposal would dissolve two existing boards — the Parking Advisory Board and the Bicycle Advisory Board. Bike advocates expressed concern that action could dilute the voice of cyclists and slow down recent progress toward creating a safer bike network.

RELATED: Mayor Faulconer Nixes 2019 Deadline For Downtown Bike Network

"I come here not to oppose the mobility board, but with concerns that we don't lose momentum for the work that the Bicycle Advisory Board has done — especially when it relates to Climate Action Plan goals," said Andy Hanshaw, president of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition and chairman of the Bicycle Advisory Board. "When we say mobility, I hope we're talking about biking, walking and transit."

Judi Tentor, president of the nonprofit Bike San Diego, said San Diego's Bicycle Advisory Board was working well, and that cities far ahead of San Diego in promoting bicycling all have boards dedicated exclusively to bikes.

"The inputs from the Bicycle Advisory Board have been far-reaching, and they're more than policy," she said. "We get into the nitty gritty of infrastructure design."

Ward responded saying he was sensitive to the concerns of bicyclists. His office said in a statement after the committee vote that the mobility board's goal would be "to inform transportation decision-making and ensure that people driving, walking, bicycling, taking transit, or using other transportation modes, will have safe, connected, easy to use choices to move around the city."

The committee action directed city staffers and the City Attorney's Office to prepare a draft ordinance that would officially establish the mobility board. A deputy city attorney said the ordinance would likely be ready for full City Council vote before the end of the year.

San Diego City Council members have advanced a proposal to create a new volunteer advisory board on transportation. The plans would also dissolve the city's Bicycle Advisory Board — leaving some bike advocates concerned.

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