San Diego Kicks Off Construction Of Downtown Bike Network
City officials and bike advocates on Friday kicked off construction of a network of protected bike lanes in downtown San Diego, as the city seeks to improve bike safety and encourage more people to travel without a car.
The Downtown Mobility Plan, approved unanimously by the City Council in 2016, envisions an extensive network of "cycle tracks" stretching from Little Italy to the East Village. Cycle tracks are bike lanes with a physical barrier protecting cyclists from moving cars.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer said phase one of the bike network, with cycle tracks on J Street, Beech Street and 6th Avenue, would "launch a new era of mobility in San Diego."
"The incredible growth of bike and scooter use in the city over the last year has really created a sense of urgency to improve the infrastructure that provides safe paths of travel for everyone," Faulconer said.
Some of the intersections along the route are also getting bike-specific traffic lights that will give cyclists a head start entering the intersection.
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Bike advocates were crushed earlier this year when city staffers revealed the full nine miles of protected bike lanes downtown would not be finished by the summer of 2019, as Faulconer had originally promised. Still, many of those same advocates stood with the mayor to celebrate the bike network finally getting off the ground.
"We're really looking forward to this, setting an example for the region," said Colin Parent, executive director of the nonprofit Circulate San Diego. "We're looking forward to having people who visit downtown, people who work downtown and live elsewhere, to be able to say, 'Hey, I want that in my community, too.'"
The downtown bike network will eventually connect to a much larger system of improved bike facilities in Bankers Hill, Hillcrest, North Park and the Mid-City communities. Many of those other bike projects, most of them planned by the regional transportation agency SANDAG, have faced similar delays of several years.
City officials said phase one of the bike network would take about three months to finish, and that phases two and three would be completed over the next three years.