May is Bicycle Safety Month and regional nonprofit Circulate San Diego, which promotes mobility choices, is encouraging people to walk, drive, or ride their bikes while practicing social-distancing.
With shelter-in-place orders continuing, San Diegans still need to get to essential jobs, run errands, or go outside to exercise.
As a result, vehicular traffic has reduced significantly and alternative modes of travel have become increasingly popular. That is evidenced by several areas that have seen more than 1,000 pedestrian trips per day, and greater biking by families and people of all abilities.
That is why San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer recently unveiled his “Slow Streets” pilot program. The program makes it safer for San Diegans to walk and bike by creating more space for physical distancing and reducing congested foot traffic at parks, beaches, and outdoor trails.
The City has closed select streets, such as Diamond Street in Pacific Beach from Mission Boulevard to Olney Street, to thru-traffic to implement Safe Streets. This prioritizes pedestrian and cyclist use as cost-effective transportation for essential workers during a time of economic strain and decreased transit service. Safe Streets include temporary barriers and signage allowing residents to move about their neighborhood while practicing safe social distancing.
Circulate’s executive director, Colin Parent, said the organization has published a report recently showing that many essential riders continue to rely on transit. “However, many may feel they should avoid transit if they can, and a bicycle is an affordable choice,” said Parent. “Bicycle shops have been doing a lot of business lately, and there's reason to think to ride a bicycle may become more popular after our experience with the pandemic. Riding a bicycle allows people to get around while avoiding close quarters and recirculated air.”
Added Parent, “While there are still fewer cars on the road, many have observed that cars have been traveling faster than usual. That creates a new danger for cyclists, so we need to continue our efforts to educate all road users to operate safely.”
As part of Safe Streets, the City has reopened key bikeways as transportation corridors to connect essential workers to their jobs. Those include major commuter bikeways like the SR-56 Bikeway, the San Diego River Bikeway from Ocean Beach east to Mission Valley, Rose Creek Bikeway, Rose Canyon Bikeway, the SR-52 Bikeway and Murphy Canyon along I-15 and Lake Hodges Bridge.
Of Safe Streets, Andy Hanshaw, chair of the City’s Mobility board said: “Safe, outdoor spaces for residents to access their jobs and essential needs by biking and walking is critical during this time. These include the existing commuter bikeways that also make these connections. We look forward to helping identify additional streets that build on this network.”
A bike month resource page online is at circulatesd.org/may_is_bike_month. There is also a Bike Month Bingo game people can play that encourages more biking available at dropbox.com/s/oh8q7he5pafs1b0/Bike%20Month%20Bingo_Flyer.pdf?dl=0 .