Council OKs plan to convert roads into ‘cycleways’

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SAN DIEGO -- The City Council Tuesday unanimously approved a plan to make downtown San Diego safer and more convenient for pedestrians and bicyclists over the next few decades.

The Downtown Mobility Plan includes converting several roads into "greenways'' with more space for walkers and less for vehicles, and "cycleways'' that would run along one side of a roadway, separating bikes and cars, according to Brad Richter of Civic San Diego.

"The plan, once implemented, will greatly increase safety for all roads and it will improve mobility choices by what we call `right-sizing the streets' by using the extra capacity that exists now for cars, to make way for people walking and biking,'' said Kathleen Ferrier of the nonprofit Circulate San Diego.

Richter said east-west greenways would be created on Cedar and E streets and Island Avenue, with north-south walking corridors on Union Street, Eighth Avenue and 14th Street. The Civic San Diego Board of Directors is scheduled to consider a master plan for 14th Street at a meeting on Wednesday.

The dedicated bike lanes would be on Pacific Highway, State Street, Sixth Avenue and Park Boulevard to the north and south; and Beech Street, Broadway, and B, C and J streets to the east and west.

The new bike lanes are meant to mitigate safety concerns that prompt riders to use sidewalks, creating conflicts with pedestrians, according to Richter. He said streets were picked that had lower traffic volumes, slower speeds and less parking.

According to Richter, San Diego's plan was inspired, in part, by a pilot program in Calgary, Canada, that increased trips by pedestrians and bicyclists by 95 percent. He said the projections, applied to San Diego, would achieve some of the goals of the city's plan to address climate change.

Opponents weren't against the overall plan, but questioned some specific items, including bike lanes that go past a church and school in Little Italy.

An environmental group contended that the plan doesn't address public transit, a complaint Councilman Todd Gloria called "laughable'' in a place with three trolley lines and numerous buses along Broadway.

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