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Where Is San Diego Creating ‘Slow Streets’ During Coronavirus Pandemic?

Two cyclists ride on Diamond Street past signs indicating it is closed to thr...

Photo by Andrew Bowen

Above: Two cyclists ride on Diamond Street past signs indicating it is closed to through traffic, April 30, 2020.

San Diego launched a "slow streets" pilot program Thursday that will limit traffic on some streets to enable better social distancing for pedestrians.

The slow streets movement has been growing in cities across the globe, as more sidewalks start getting crowded with people seeking a break from home isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. Faulconer said the city was starting with about 2½ miles of streets, and that he would be consulting with city council members on where the program can be expanded.

"Some areas we are seeing over 1,000 pedestrian trips per day," he said at a briefing Wednesday. "More people are walking around. And this means that people need more room to physically walk around."

The first phase of the pilot covers Diamond Street from Mission Boulevard to Olney Street; Adams Avenue over Interstate 805; Howard Avenue from Park Boulevard to 33rd Street and an unnamed portion of roadway in City Council District 4, which covers most of Southeast San Diego.

Reported by Andrew Bowen

RELATED: More Biking And Walking, Fewer Cars: How Coronavirus Is Changing San Diego Streets

The streets will be marked with temporary signage over the next several days, with Diamond Street coming first, and the mayor said he would consult with council members on where to expand the program.

Faulconer added that the city would be reopening commuter bike paths that had been closed several weeks ago. Those include state Route 56 bikeway; the San Diego River bikeway from Ocean Beach to Mission Valley; Rose Creek bikeway; Rose Canyon bikeway; state Route 52 bikeway; Murphy Canyon along Insterstate 15 and Lake Hodges Bridge.

Advocates had urged the city to automate all pedestrian cross signals to prevent the spread of germs on crosswalk buttons. Faulconer said the city was exploring that possibility, but that for now it will replace small crosswalk buttons with larger ones that can be pushed with an elbow or arm.

San Diego Slow Streets

Councilwoman Jen Campbell, who appeared with Faulconer in Wednesday's briefing, said while the slow streets pilot was temporary, it could help the city with its larger goal of reducing car travel.

"By expanding street access for pedestrians and bikes while not impeding residential and emergency access, we can move about more safely and the city can study long term opportunities for our environment," Campbell said. "A clear analysis on the possibilities could inspire a vision for the San Diego of tomorrow, one that prioritizes walkability and more open green space for our communities."

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Photo of Andrew Bowen

Andrew Bowen
Metro Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover local government — a broad beat that includes housing, homelessness and infrastructure. I'm especially interested in the intersections of land use, transportation and climate change.

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