SAN DIEGO —
Wearing bike helmets and ringing their bike bells, hundreds of cyclists crowded a busy intersection in North Park Sunday to celebrate San Diego’s completion of 1.5 miles of protected bike lanes.
Cyclists and mobility advocates joined San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and other elected officials along 30th Street and North Park Way for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and community celebration.
The city’s 30th Street Protected Bikeway Mobility Project calls for protected bike lanes from Juniper Street to Adams Avenue. A section of the project from Polk Avenue to Juniper Street was completed last month.
Standing in front of a crowd of more than 200 bicyclists, Gloria called for even more protected bike lanes to be built in San Diego.
“If we’re going to make meaningful progress towards hitting our climate goals, if we’re going to change the culture around transportation means in San Diego, then we’re going to have to connect our neighborhoods with a seamless network of protected bike lanes,” Gloria said.
He emphasized the role protected bike lanes play in preventing fatal collisions between bicycles and cars.
The crowd held a moment of silence for bicyclists Laura Shinn, a prominent architect and planner in Balboa Park; and scientists Allen Hunter II in Solana Beach and Swati Tyagi in La Jolla. The riders all died after being hit by cars.
Charles Miles, a downtown resident, said the new lanes are a great addition because San Diego’s streets are not always friendly to cyclists. The lanes have physical barriers — plastic posts or parked vehicles — that separate cars from cyclists. Miles said the bikeway makes him feel safer when he rides.
Cycling and environmental advocates have strongly supported the project, but some in the neighborhood have opposed it.
Opponents worry about the loss of parking in the neighborhood hurting businesses, which are still recovering from the pandemic. Some business owners, North Park residents and disability advocates have spoken against the removal of spaces. The project will result in the loss of 450 parking spots along 30th Street from Adams Avenue to Juniper Street.
A group called Save 30th Street Parking has organized protests along the popular corridor to push back. Members of the group were not present on Sunday, but a group gathered a few days before on 30th Street to protest.
The city has said there will still be 103 parking spaces marked by striping on the road, and another 70 spots that have been added through painting angled spaces on nearby streets.
Gloria said the conversation around bike lanes should be about public safety.
“This is about protecting people’s lives, it’s about keeping people safe, it’s about letting families enjoy their communities in a safe environment,” he said.
Stephanie Hernandez, from City Heights, said when she was a kid she wasn’t allowed to ride on the street because her mother worried for her safety.
Hernandez, who now works for the City Heights Community Development Corporation, advocates for protected bike lanes for families in San Diego’s urban communities. She joined hundreds of cyclists on Sunday who rode on the protected bikeway.