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Gloria says he's committed to bike lanes, even when residents object

Mayor Todd Gloria stands behind the lectern at a press briefing, April 28, 2022.
Andrew Bowen
Mayor Todd Gloria stands behind the lectern at a press briefing, April 28, 2022.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said Thursday that he is committed to improving the city's network of bike lanes, even when those projects face opposition.

His remarks, made during his monthly media briefing, came after several recent bike safety projects sparked backlash among residents who were unaware they were coming. On Tuesday, Gloria's transportation director, Jorge Riveros, apologized to residents of Rancho Peñasquitos for poor communication on the installation of protected bike lanes on Azuaga Street.

Three weeks ago, Gloria went door-to-door in Mira Mesa to apologize for not making residents aware of "advisory" bike lanes that had been added to Gold Coast Drive. Those bike lanes — the first of their kind in San Diego — have since been removed.

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But Gloria said those apologies did not mean he would back away from his promises to improve bike infrastructure simply because some residents object.

RELATED: Mayor Gloria wants to lower speed limits on San Diego streets

"If their objections are a reflexive opposition to change, that's probably not going to get a positive hearing here because we do need to make some changes," Gloria said. "Our climate is changing. Our affordability, inflation, other issues are causing us to change and try and give people more options. It's necessary for both the economic vitality of this city as well as our climate action plans."

After the backlash in Mira Mesa, Gloria ordered a halt to all planned advisory bike lanes in the city pending a public outreach campaign. Advisory bike lanes require motorists in both directions of travel to share a single lane and veer into the bike lane for oncoming traffic.

A 2021 study from San Jose State University estimates that advisory bike lanes, also called "edge lane roads," can reduce the likelihood of collisions by roughly 44% because the unfamiliar design forces drivers to pay closer attention.

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Gloria said he had not given up on advisory bike lanes in San Diego, but added that the city would seek to educate drivers on their purpose and how to use them before they are installed.

RELATED: For grieving families, bike lane improvements come too late

"We're going to go to the community planning group, town council, and explain to them that this is coming, to assist them in understanding what it is and hopefully get their support," Gloria said. "Sometimes we don't get that support, and we may move forward still."

KPBS reported last month that the city is planning to install protected bike lanes on a portion of Park Boulevard in University Heights. Cyclists have praised the move, saying it will help connect several other bike lanes in the city's urban core. The nonprofit BikeSD launched a campaign urging the mayor to extend the bike lanes through Balboa Park, where none currently exist.

The owner of the J.A. Cooley Museum on Park Boulevard has objected to the project, telling NBC7 that a loss of parking spaces would hurt her business. City officials say parking will be maintained in front of the museum.

Gloria's director of communications, Rachel Laing, said city staff would make a presentation on the bike lanes to the University Heights Community Association on May 5.

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