By Meiko Patton
On May 20, the City of San Diego held a public open house for the Bicycle Master Plan Update. Cyclists from all over San Diego attended not only to see the proposed changes to the city’s bike plan initiative but to provide input before the plan is finalized.
The San Diego Bicycle Master Plan (BMP) is an update to the city’s 2002 plan. This plan presents a renewed vision for bicycle transportation, recreation and a better quality of life for San Diegans.
Updating the plan satisfies the requirements of Caltrans’ California Bicycle Transportation Account. For the city of San Diego to be eligible to receive federal, state and regional funding, a BMP has to be in effect and updated every five years.
This new plan provides a working tool that enables the city to apply for various grants to implement its recommendations. It also identifies future bicycle facility needs that would guide the city’s future development.
According to the 2000 Census, there are more than one million residents living in the city of San Diego. With an influx of people moving to San Diego every year, traffic congestion will continue to increase, thereby leaving a higher carbon footprint. If there is a better and safer alternative to driving, many people could choose bicycling to arrive at their destination, said city staff who were at the open house.
“Most trips that people take in a car are less than five miles from their homes,” said Sam Corbett, consultant project manager at Alta Planning + Design. “So we are targeting these trips as potential bicycle trips.”
“Another advantage to riding a bike is that it’s great for your health,” Corbett added. “It cuts down on obesity in adults and children because it gets people moving.”
One hour of bicycle riding is equivalent to burning 500 calories. Bicycles are also quiet, non-polluting and energy-efficient.
The plan’s intent is to develop a safe bicycle system that is inviting to the public. A major component of the plan is a bicycle education program for both cyclists and motorists that explains roadway rights and responsibilities. Other programs will focus on persuading people to shift from driving to bicycling.
“I’ve been bicycling for 50 years now and I do like the plan, but I feel the city needs to have a full-time dedicated person on staff to oversee that everything in the plan will be implemented,” said retired librarian and bicycle enthusiast Kathy Askin.
Not only were Uptown neighborhood residents at the open house – residents from nearby cities came to look at the plan and get an idea of how their own plans will be structured.
“I think this is a wonderful way to encourage more cycling in the city and to make it more accessible,” said Michael Woiwode, a Coronado council member. “I’ve been a cyclist for 57 years and I regularly bike to work, downtown and Mission Valley so increasing access would be great. The City of Coronado will be putting together a Bicycle Master Plan soon so we came here to get some ideas.”
City Project Manager Shahriar Ammi said the open house served its purpose.
“I believe the event was successful. There were 96 individuals who signed-in. They were well informed about the plan and what is recommended for the future of bicycling facilities in San Diego,” Ammi said. “It was also informative for us, as there were many written comments and suggestions that were submitted, in addition to the comments made at each station.”