Temporary safety measures coming to Balboa Park road after deadly crashes

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SAN DIEGO — Two recent deaths on Pershing Drive near Balboa Park have led to new temporary safety measures in the area.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said Thursday that city workers are installing posts along Pershing Drive to create bikeways in both directions. His office said it’s a temporary move to separate cyclists and scooter riders from cars until SANDAG begins construction on permanently protected bikeways in early 2022.

“There is an urgency that I feel in making sure that we take action, whether that is the protected bikeway on 30th street, the one we installed on Washington Street or now this one on Pershing (Drive),” Gloria said. “San Diegans see that I take their safety extremely seriously. This is not just lip service; this is about action.” 

Two San Diegans have recently lost their lives after being hit by cars along the roadway.

Police say a 17-year-old girl was driving a sedan on Pershing Drive near the Balboa Park Golf Course around 11 p.m. on Sept. 18 when she hit and killed a 35-year-old scooter rider, who was headed the same direction in the bike lane.

In July, Laura Shinn, an architect at San Diego State University, was biking to work when a suspected DUI driver hit and killed her on Pershing Drive. A ghost bike and memorial were placed in the area to honor her.

“Traveling around our city without a car should not be life-threatening,” Gloria said in a prepared statement Thursday, adding that work on the temporary bikeways has already started. It’s expected to be complete in early October.

Stephan Vance of the San Diego Bike Coalition says Pershing Drive is a dangerous road.

“This has not been a dangerous road for people just riding bikes, but also for people driving because of excessive speeds,” Vance said, adding that it’s been a difficult year for the cycling community.

“Typically in a year, you might see less than 10 fatalities,” he said. “Here we are in September and we’re up to 14 I think it is.”

Gloria said his city budget this year included $1.1 million to create the Safe and Sustainable Transportation for All Ages and Abilities Team, a new 12-member unit dedicated to planning and building bikeways across the city.

SANDAG and the city have also implemented policy changes to cut the permitting time on bike infrastructure projects, according to Gloria.

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