The community advisory group also concurred in requesting that the city of San Diego delay, if possible, resurfacing a small portion of Wabaska near Tennyson Street so that roadway improvements can be grouped together.
“Wabaska Drive is an important Safe Routes to Schools corridor that will connect bike paths on both Voltaire Street and Nimitz Boulevard,” said Nicole Burgess, a planning board member and City Council District 2's bicycling representative. “We are proposing a separated, safe and comfortable bike path that is feasible with the excessive roadway space. Ultimately, we are hopeful that the improvements will encourage more students and residents to enjoy our city by bike.”
Burgess added that Wasbaska improvements “also has the potential to increase home values on the street while making the area more livable and enjoyable.”
In a sweeping effort to get more children walking and bicycling to schools across America, Congress approved Safe Routes to School initiatives in the early 2000s. From 2005 to 2012, that program provided more than $1 billion in funding in all states to support infrastructure improvements and programming to make it safer for children to walk and bicycle to and from school.
The purposes of Safe Routes to School include enabling and encouraging children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school; to make bicycling and walking to school a safer and more appealing transportation alternative, thereby encouraging a healthful and active lifestyle from an early age; and to facilitate the planning, development and implementation of projects and activities that will improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel consumption and air pollution in the vicinity of schools.
Safe Routes to School funds may be used for the planning, design and construction of projects that will substantially improve the ability of students to walk and bicycle to school, including sidewalks improvement, traffic calming, speed reduction improvements, street crossings, on-street bicycle facilities, off-street bicycle and pedestrian facilities, secure bicycle parking and traffic diversion improvements in the vicinity of schools.
“This is a race against the clock, in a way,” said Don Sevrens, another planning board member who's been working on the Wabaska project. “Once the city starts resurfacing part of Wabaska, some steps become less likely or certainly more expensive. Our thanks to the city staffers who understand this and who are accelerating their efforts to provide information to the planning board.”
Sevrens added that “extensive outreach is planned to Wabaska residents once we have more information, such as number of parking spaces to be gained and workable design options.”
Sevrens also pointed out that “a number of planning board members are involved in what is truly a team effort” with this school transportation funding project.
What: Safe Routes to Schools
Where: A 0.2-mile corridor on Wabaska Drive
Why: To make it safer for children and adults to ride bicycles to and from school
Project vision: Downsize Wabaska from 4 lanes to 2 and use space gained for bike lanes on a Safe Route to Schools Corridor, possibly a bike rack, and to create more diagonal parking for merchants and residents