SAN DIEGO — A dedicated bike lane is coming to the Balboa Park area, but the project includes a loss of hundreds of parking spaces.
“By giving people other options, it’s going to create more space on the road for people that do need to drive,” said William Rhatigan, advocacy director for SD County Bicycle Coalition.
The project is underway on Park Boulevard to create a protected bike lane and a dedicated bus lane. Car traffic will also be permanently reduced to one lane in each direction to make room for the changes.
“I like the idea of protected bike lanes. Buses do get in the way when they stop so everybody has to go around. Everybody tries to do it quickly, so there could be accidents that happen,” said Jeff Wilson.
Cyclists say the street is currently very unsafe to travel on.
“With two lanes in each direction and a speed limit of 40 miles per hour, that road acts a lot like a freeway and feels like a freeway when you’re biking on it,” said Rhatigan.
The redesign of the street also comes with a loss of roughly 300 parking spaces between Morley Field Drive and Presidents Way.
“Summertime is peak season here so a lot of tourism. I can only imagine what that is going to look like this time around,” said Carlos Rojas.
The project will connect recently completed bike lanes in uptown, University Heights and downtown. Despite the loss of parking, the goal is to make the area safer for both drivers and cyclists.
“Projects like this really can save lives. We had two people killed in Balboa Park riding their bikes in 2021 because there was not a bike lane like this on Pershing Drive,” said Rhatigan.
The weather has delayed work on Park Boulevard so the project is still in progress, but expected to be completed soon. The city is also committed to expanding parking at Inspiration Point and Balboa Drive, though there is no set number of spots just yet.