San Diego Bike Advisory Board Bids Farewell
For the past four and a half years, San Diego's Bicycle Advisory Board has been working to make the city more bike friendly, advising city staffers and council members on how and where to improve bike infrastructure.
Last month, the board held its final meeting. The City Council last year voted to dissolve the bike board, and in its place created a new "Mobility Advisory Board" tasked with advising the city on a range of transportation issues including parking, public transit and accessibility for people with disabilities.
KPBS spoke with Andy Hanshaw, executive director of the nonprofit San Diego County Bicycle Coalition and former chairman of the bike board, on what he hopes the new board will accomplish. The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Q: The bike advisory board was formed in 2014. What do you think are the board's greatest accomplishments?
A: I'm really proud of the work that this dedicated group of volunteers and citizens have put forward and the accomplishments that they've made as a group — working with the city to make safety and awareness and policy improvements to make biking a more viable choice for people here in the city. When we started, the bike master plan had just been recently updated. So we had the task of creating the Strategic Implementation Plan for that plan, which really was a road map for the city ... to carry forward those priorities and policies and programs to make biking even better moving forward. And that effort took about two years of really hard work for this group. So I'm really proud of that. Our input on the downtown mobility plan and the infrastructure that's now finally coming to be a part of that — we provided a lot of input on that and a lot of support for it. And then I think the evolution of dockless and docked (bikes and scooters) and mobility choices has brought us to where we are now. So I think we're proud of all those things.
Q: On the downtown mobility plan, you have been working on that for years, giving input to staff on the really nitty-gritty details of how these protected bike lanes should be designed. And then last year you found out that the complete network downtown was not actually going to be finished by this summer like the mayor had originally promised. What was that like?
A: As we've seen in the whole time that we've been together, things have taken a lot longer than what we've expected. And that includes the downtown mobility plan. So it was disappointing. We've been a very patient group, and the city wants to get it right. So I think it takes a lot of effort to sort of plan the routing, to look at how it's best to be routed and how best to be implemented. And I think we're now starting to be at a tipping point where we can just finally (get) these things going to build out that complete network within the next year and a half.
Q: This new mobility advisory board that the city has created hasn't been formed yet. There are a lot of different directions that it could go. What is your best case scenario and what is your worst case scenario?
A: Well, first of all, I think when we talk about mobility, it has to be about prioritizing non-single occupant car mobility. This is where that has to go for the Climate Action Plan, it's where it has to go for growth. And so best case scenario is that it's mostly represented by people working with biking, walking and transit. Worst case scenario is it's not an engaged board. The bike advisory board has been so effective and communicating with the city and providing input and actually having some influence and some say on how we move forward on implementing bikeways.
And so I think a worst case scenario would be a board that doesn't doesn't take their priorities as serious as we have. But I think they will, and I think it's gonna be balanced, and I would hope that it's a balanced board of modes that we want to represent in the future of San Diego.
Q: What do you think needs to change in order to make San Diego really a world-class bicycling city?
A: We've approved plans. We've funded plans. We need to get serious about getting rid of roadblocks that are stopping the implementation of these plans. There's too many delays, the processes of actually putting down the protective bikeways is is taking too long. And I really think we can be a world class city once we put these networks in — and networks is the keyword. You have to have connected, protected networks to get people to ride. And so if we can just get them in, it's a nine-mile network downtown that's going to connect to the SANDAG regional bikeways. And the landscape could change dramatically in the next two to three years if we really put our effort towards getting it done.