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Getting the most out of Bike Anywhere Day

 May 15, 2024 at 4:31 PM PDT

S1: Welcome in San Diego , it's Jade Hindman. On today's show , we're talking about cycling in San Diego ahead of Bike Anywhere Day. This is midday edition , connecting our communities through conversation. Tomorrow will be a good day to take a ride. Thursday is bike anywhere day. Here's San Diego's Jennifer Williamson on what cyclists can expect.

S2: Bike Anywhere Day is part of Bike Month. It's the day that Sandag celebrates biking throughout the region. And really , the whole goal of Bike Anywhere Day is to let people know that there's an alternative to driving , and what we want to communicate is that , you know , you don't have to bike every day of the week. It would be great if you did. But if you don't have the opportunity , even biking a few days a week is really good for the environment and helps everybody reach their climate goals.

S1: The San Diego region has more than 1800 miles of bikeways to celebrate Bike Anywhere day , riders can stop at over 100 pit stops to rest , refresh and celebrate the day. Meant to promote cycling across the region. The day's events come as the region invest in major bike projects like the Pershing Bikeway , border to Bayshore and Bayshore Bikeway. Barrio projects. The Pershing Bikeway is expected to celebrate its opening next month. On midday today , we wanted to have a conversation on the state of biking in the San Diego region. I'm joined now by Ana Zelaya. He is the executive director of bike SD , a local biking advocacy group , and our Welcome to Midday Edition.

S3: Hey , thanks for having me.

S1: Glad you're here. So how does bike infrastructure play into the state of biking here in San Diego.

S3: In San Diego and throughout the nation ? Really ? You know , a number of surveys have shown that the number one impediment to biking , not only recreationally , but as you know , a legitimate form of transportation for commuting , for running errands. The number one impediment , time and time again , is not , you know , not feeling safe. So and that then equates to , you know , lack of infrastructure , having to share the road with cars going , you know , 40 , 50 , 60 miles , um , next to and then on top of that , also when you get to your destination , not being able to securely lock up your bike. So then , you know , there's also that concern of your bike being missing after you do run your errand. So all of that comes down to proper bike infrastructure , not only for , you know , riding , but also for storage and security.


S3: And , um , you know , it has all of the neighborhoods that are , you know , south of the A and the streetcar suburbs around Balboa Park , which in my opinion , are some of the best places to ride a bike. But then you also have places , you know , north of the eight throughout , you know , Mission Valley itself , as well as places like Clairemont and , um , Kearny Mesa , where it's not feasible to ride a bike , um , within the neighborhood or getting to the neighborhood. So it's definitely a mixed bag as far as the maturity of our bicycle infrastructure here in the city of San Diego.


S3: Um , despite the hills , uh , there are there is a latent demand that I think , especially since , you know , 2019 and the pandemic has emerged , showing that people do want to be able to bike places comfortably. And I think the city could do a better job in meeting this demand and and building more safe , all ages and all abilities , infrastructure. As far as culture of cycling goes , I believe that the more people that feel safe and sound riding around San Diego and getting around San Diego without having to get in their car will result in this greater not only sort of cultural shift , but greater respect between San Diegans who might choose to , you know , bike or walk or take transit rather than drive right now , because so many of us are just cooped up in our cars , it's sometimes difficult to see eye to eye with others who might opt to bike to get their groceries instead. And , you know , aside from the unsafe infrastructure , that could also result to unsafe maybe interactions between individuals that don't need to happen.


S3: I think some of it , the Pershing Bikeway being a prime example , came a little bit too late , where , you know , the plans were all in place years ago , but really , what had what ended up serving as the catalyst for the , um , you know , putting shovels in the. Round were two deaths that took place almost back to back back in 2021 , and had the Pershing Bikeway been done earlier than that , those two individuals would be with us today. So while I am excited , um , Artemis is sad that it's taken this long for what could and will save lives to be implemented.


S3: I think it's another incremental step towards really reclaiming our crown jewel , Balboa Park , as not just a place for cars to careen through , but one for people of all ages and abilities and forms of transportation to be able to get through. It's really reclaiming the park , um , in a really exciting way that I think , since , you know , its founding over 100 years ago has , uh , served , as , you know , away from way too many cars to get through it. You know , between there's , you know , the five , the 163 park Pershing. Um , at some point , I would love to see more and more of these spaces that are currently only used by cars reclaimed for pedestrians , for cyclists , um , and for everyone else that that wants to get the most out of our crown jewel. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. Well , earlier you mentioned how , you know , San Diego's got year round weather that's really conducive to riding bikes. And I remember when I first moved here how shocked I was that there weren't more trails. I mean , a lot of talk has been around bike lanes and safer bike lanes.

S3: Um , you have the Mountain Biking Association of San Diego. You also have Groundwork San Diego , uh , who's doing some great work over in the Creek area , um , which includes implementing some bike trails. And there , you know , if if it were up to me , we there would be bike lanes of all shapes and sizes all throughout the city. A lot of people , you know , when you're putting in a bikeway , argue things like , oh , there's a bike lane a few blocks over that takes you east to west anyway. Why not just use that one ? Um , yet we have , you know , three freeways running north to south along the entirety of San Diego , right ? The five , the 805 , the 15. And that same logic doesn't seem to apply then. So , you know , in , in sort of ideal world where San Diego has all the bike and pedestrian infrastructure that it deserves , you would see a number of , um , corridors and routes for bicyclists , for pedestrians cutting east , west , north , south. And this would be a mix of corridors that not only run through business districts , but also through residential areas , through commercial areas , through industrial areas , and also through , you know , natural areas , through green spaces. Um , we have a ton of them. And again , you know , despite some of the hills there , they're e-bikes. Now , um , there are cities like San Francisco and Seattle that are as or even more hilly than San Diego , which has higher bike ridership. So I think it's really there is opportunity to have all sorts of bike lanes and build them in a way where they synergize and allow for just greater transportation options throughout the city.



S1: I mean , so when we say bike infrastructure , that can actually mean many different things. Can you help break that down for us ? Yeah.

S3: So I mean , we touched on trails , you know , that's one option. A lot of trails could be categorized as what here in California are called class one bikeways. So , um , uh , class one bikeways are those that are completely separated from the , um , you know , general purpose right of way. Some examples we have here in San Diego is the 15 bikeway that connects Kensington to Mission Valley. We also have one on along the five , which connects , uh , University City to Sorrento Valley. And so in both of those cases , you are completely separated from the freeway that it's parallel to. And it provides for , you know , completely safe , um , conflict free riding and walking. Um , between these two , um , really , you know , high density , high density parts of San Diego , then you have class two bikeways , class two bikeways are what you primarily see around the city of San Diego , where , um , it's , you know , just a painted lane , um , usually between the general purpose right of way and the sidewalk. From there you have class three bikeways , which are also called SROs. That's when , um , I'm sure many people have seen when they're driving , they see a little symbol of a bicyclists and maybe a sign that's just to share the road. Um , those are used in a lot of different scenarios. Um , they're used both on thoroughfares that allow for cars to go 50 miles an hour , in which case they're not great. But they're also used in places like Meade , a great project spearheaded by Sandag , which opened , I believe , in 2021 , where those are also class three. But because there's so much traffic coming , cars are going a lot slower anywhere between , you know , 15 , 20 , 25 miles an hour. And so in those cases , sharing the road isn't as intimidating for cyclists. And then finally you have class four , which is actually the newest classification for bikeways in California. And that's what you see along corridors like 30th Street or Park Boulevard , where you have what is essentially a class two bikeway between the general purpose lane and the sidewalk. But you also have some sort of physical barrier between the bikeway and the , um , and cars , basically. So San Diego uses flex posts , but if you look at places like fourth and fifth , which is a sandag project , you can use things like planters or concrete barriers or any other , you know , sturdy physical barrier that protects bicyclists from motorists.

S1: Onerous Aliyev is the executive director of bike SD , a biking advocacy organization. And thank you so much for being here today.

S3: Thanks so much for having me , and I hope to see you on Thursday for 2024 Bike Anywhere Day.

S1: Up next , the conversation continues with a look at how drivers and cyclists can safely share the road.

S4: We do have a ways to go in terms of everybody sharing the road with grace and respect.

S1: Midday edition is back after the break. You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman. We just heard about San Diego's efforts to build more bike trails and lanes. But before tomorrow's Bike Anywhere day , we wanted to also talk about safety. So what are some things riders should be thinking about before they hit the road ? And what do drivers need to know to help keep riders safe on San Diego roadways ? Here to talk more about bike safety is Chloe Flower , executive director of the San Diego Bike Coalition. Chloe , welcome.

S4: Thank you so much. It's an honor to be here.

S1: So glad to have you here. So you run bike safety programs and bike safety workshops for kids and adults around San Diego.



S4: Great question. Thank you. Well we always start with the ABC quick check. So that's checking your bike and making sure it's in good working order starting with the air in the tires for a B for brakes you want to make sure your brakes are working. And then C is the crank and the gear shaft making sure everything , um , is shifting properly. And then we recommend before a ride to take your bike out just for a loop around the block and make sure it feels comfortable , and then make any adjustments that you need for the , um , seat height and just , you know , the general configuration. Um , and then finally , and most importantly is helmet , uh , you want to make sure the helmet is fitted properly on the head. And one quick way to test that is to put the helmet on and then don't latch it quite yet and put your head upside down and make sure the helmet doesn't fall off. That means it's tight enough and then latch it from there.

S1: You mentioned helmets. What types are the best ? I mean , there's a lot of options out there.

S4: Yeah , well , fit is number one. Uh , you want to look for. It's hard to explain over the radio and better visually , but that the straps on either side of your ear are in a V shape and pretty snug , and then under your chin that you can put two fingers between your chin and the strap , and then that the helmet is actually pretty evenly parallel to the ground and not too far forward or back. And then there's a new type of helmet called kips kips , where it creates a little bit more flexibility inside of the helmet , so that if you were to fall that the helmet could rotate , and that prevents injury in a better way than some of the older helmets. Mhm.

S5: Mhm. Well , what do riders.


S4: The most important thing is to be visible and to communicate with other road users. So that means wearing bright colors , making eye contact with drivers so that you're aware when they're stopping and when you can go and just come to our class. That's where you get to learn more. There's a lot that goes into being safe as a cyclist , and our mission is to get that information out to as many people in our county as possible. So we hope that you can have your kids attend one of our assemblies or come to a class yourself.

S1: And of course , we'll have a link to the SD Bike Coalition on our website , KPBS.

S4: And it's one we get a lot. State law says that you can ride the sidewalk if you don't feel comfortable on the road. And so we recommend that cyclists respect other sidewalk users and get off their bikes. If there's a lot of pedestrians and just generally take it slower to make room for pedestrians on the sidewalk. Uh , another thing that people ask about is whether they have to use the bike lane if there is one , and you don't have to. If you feel comfortable in a lane of car traffic , you're certainly permitted to do that. And you don't have to use the bike lane. So lots of ins and outs. And there are certain parts of certain cities that do outlaw cycling on the sidewalk. So just be aware of that. Perhaps in some busier commercial areas , that could be the case.

S1: You mentioned this the importance of being visible to drivers.

S4: Often the challenges as cyclists , we feel sometimes that we don't get as much respect from drivers as we would like. So our invitation to drivers as well would be to respect other road users , especially ones that we call vulnerable road users. And so those are pedestrians and cyclists. Unfortunately , we're far from reaching our goal of having zero fatalities or serious injuries in the county each year. So we do have a ways to go in terms of everybody sharing the road with grace and respect.

S5: Yeah , and I can relate.

S1: I mean , there are points in a ride where avoiding cars can just be impossible , though I'm thinking about turning left at a four way intersection , for example.

S4: If it's just one lane going in each direction , you put yourself in the center of the lane and indicate with your arm to the left that you're turning left , and then you take your turn , just like you would if you were in a car. If , however , it's a multi-lane road with lots of traffic going faster , there's other options. You can get off your bike and be become a pedestrian and walk your bike across the pedestrian crosswalk and use the beg button to , you know , ask for that walk sign. And that's a really great option as you're getting more into cycling is to do that. Another option is to actually turn right and then when it's safe , make a bit of a U-turn. And then continue going. So we teach four different ways to do a left hand turn in our classes. Yeah.

S5: Yeah.


S4: Drivers need to know that there's a lot of laws , new laws in California protecting cyclists. One is that it's required for a driver to give the cyclist at least three feet if you're passing a cyclist , and if there is an option for you to move into a different lane of travel to give the cyclist even more space that you are required to do. So that's one important law. Another is mutual respect , communication. Um , making sure that you use your turn signals as well , so that cyclists know what to expect you to do. And then. Especially if there are bike lanes waiting until it's safe to merge in. For example , for a right hand turn as an automobile , sometimes you have to cross over the bike lane , really respecting the bicyclist , slowing down , letting the bicyclists continue forward , and then merging right to make your right hand turn.

S5: All right.

S1: All of it seems dangerous.

S5: Um , well.

S4: I would love to take you out sometime if you want to come to our classes. Most of them are free throughout the county , and we do have a bike friendly driver class. You don't have to be a bicyclist to be a bike friendly driver and to respect the other road users. So we'd love even non cyclists to take our classes. Mhm.

S5: Oh yes.

S1: Now e-bikes have become popular particularly in San Diego coastal areas. And they come with a lot of advantages but also challenges. Can you talk about that a bit. Yeah.

S4: Yeah. We've seen a huge rise in adoption of e-bikes , especially like you mentioned in the coastal cities of Encinitas and Carlsbad. And now that they're dropping in price and coming on the secondary resale market , we're going to see them permeating the whole county. So we love e-bikes. They provide more people with the option to ride. Uh , however , we do see some risks associated with that. A lot of new , um , e-bike users are either teenagers who may actually not have had a lot of experience on a road bike , and then having that extra speed and power , um , in their youth can be potentially dangerous. And so that's why we really encourage e-bike users to take our city cycling class so that they know all the rules of the road and they know how to use their , um , tool of the e-bike safely. And then a lot of times , retirees are another population we see who come back to biking after , maybe not cycling for 30 or 40 years. They get on an e-bike and they realize , oh , they got to work on their balance. So that's another reason to take our classes and practice in community. Hmm.

S5: Hmm.

S1: So you are preparing for Bike Anywhere Day right now ? We're recording this Tuesday , FYI. Um , so tell us about what you are up to right now as you prepare for Bike Anywhere day. Yeah.

S4: Yeah. We're so excited. I'm volunteering today with Sandag , our regional government. They are sponsoring Bike Anywhere Day as part of Bike Month , which is all of May , and I'm at Mission Valley Library , helping to hand out all the supplies to people who are hosting pit stops throughout the county. So you can take a look on the Sandag website and find a pit stop near you. Take a ride , whether it's in your neighborhood or to work , and get some encouragement and support along the way. And then at the Bike Coalition , we'd love for you to come visit us at K and 15th in East Village. We're doing a theme of Follow the Yellow Brick Bike Path and The Wizard of Oz. So come hang out with us. And from 7 to 10 on Thursday morning.

S1: I've been speaking with Chloe Lauer , executive director of the San Diego Bike Coalition. You can find more information on their workshops , as well as Bike Anywhere Day on our website at KPBS. Org Chloe , thanks for being here.

S4: Thank you so much for having me. Hope to meet you one day.

S5: Yes , on the bike trail.

S1: Somewhere , I. Hope.

S5: Hope. Yes.

Ways To Subscribe
Bicyclists crossing the street in Pacific Beach, Nov. 20, 2022.
Alexander Nguyen
Bicyclists crossing the street in Pacific Beach, Nov. 20, 2022.

Thursday is Bike Anywhere Day. It's an effort to promote cycling across the region.

There will be more than 100 pit stops for bicyclists to stop at to rest, refresh and celebrate the day.

San Diego has more than 1,800 miles of bikeways, and the region has invested in major bike projects like the Pershing Bikeway and the Border to Bayshore Bikeway.

On Midday Edition, we talk about the state of bike infrastructure in the San Diego region, as well as provide safety tips for cyclists and drivers.