Battle over bike lanes reaches Spring Valley

Neighbors in the Skyline community are worried more accidents could happen after the City of San Diego painted separated bike lanes on their street and a driver crashed into parked cars the same day.

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A neighborhood beef is brewing over new separated bike lanes in Spring Valley's Skyline community after a driver plowed into a bunch of cars.

And they're not alone.

For more than two years, NBC 7 has heard from people in many San Diego communities upset and taking aim at the city for adding new bike lanes that changed traffic patterns and took away parking.

Sarahy Garcia and her Skyline neighbors say when they saw the bike lanes being painted in their community they knew they were a disaster waiting to happen. Little did they know, disaster would strike within hours of the paint drying.

Garcia’s car, which she relied on to make home visits to clients, is now a mangled mess after someone plowed into it outside her house on Lisbon Street.

“It’s very frustrating. I’m upset as well. I need the car. It's my income," she said.

Though a suspected drunk driver was responsible for the crash around 9 p.m. Friday night, Garcia said in 15 years she's had no problems parking on the street.

That is until city crews repainted the street with new separated bike lanes hours before the crash.

The lanes are buffered by cars parked away from the curb which narrow the street for passing drivers.

When Garcia parked her car Friday night, she was among the residents who say they knew the new traffic design was an accident waiting to happen.

“They’re taking a way streets and the way they’re taking away parking spots is out of control. It’s too close to the throughway," explained Rodrigo Gonzalez  

In part of a statement to NBC 7, the city of San Diego said, "Based on rider demand data and in an effort from the City of San Diego to create a safer, connected citywide system of separated lanes for people on bikes and micro-mobility riders, Lisbon Street has been redesigned with a Class IV separated bikeway to safely accommodate all modes of travel.”

“You look at Amsterdam, it was built for bikes. No one is riding a bike to downtown from here," said Gonzalez.

From about 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., and NBC 7 camera crew saw four bikers and three skaters using the new bike lanes.

Paulo Anguiano was one of them. He said he understand the frustration but likes the new lanes because he’s been hit by a car before.

“I don't even like to go on the street because of that accident. I always go on the sidewalk. Sometimes I don’t care if I  do see a bike lane, depending on the traffic. If it’s a main street and busy, I’ll go on the sidewalk," he said.

In June 2021, the city removed over 400 parking spots to make way for bike lanes along 30th Street in North Park.

Some neighbors celebrated the move, while others complained about the loss of street parking to make way for those on two wheels.

North Park city officials held a news conference Sunday morning to inaugurate the completed protected bike lines on 30th street. NBC 7's Amber Frias reports.

In April of last year, the city admitted it didn’t conduct enough community outreach before installing "advisory bike lanes" along Gold Coast Drive in Mira Mesa.

It was eventually re-striped – and the city put future projects of that same style on hold indefinitely, following community backlash.

Residents said there was little community input regarding the so-called advisory bike lanes before the new lines were striped, reports NBC 7's Madison Weil.

In January NBC 7 spoke with business owners who were concerned over the city's plan for changes to Convoy Street in the Kearny Mesa area, mostly because of the parking spaces that would be lost.

NBC 7's Dave Summers spoke to a restaurant owner about the potential loss of parking spaces in the area.

And in June, we heard more mixed feelings about the installation of bike and bus lanes along Park Boulevard in Hillcrest.

Residents weigh in on the neighborhood changes stemming from added bike lanes, NBC 7's Kelvin Henry reports.

Many acknowledged the safety benefits, but say traffic had increased in their neighborhood.

While it may be safer for bikers and skaters, Garcia showed us her fear of drivers getting in and out of their cars so close to oncoming, speeding traffic.

And though a sign is posted to warn drivers of the traffic lane change, residents in the community are hoping city leaders will listen before another disaster strikes.

“Work with us to see what would be a better plan,” said Garcia. “I believe more crashes will happen or someone will get run over."  

A city spokesperson said similar bike lanes are successfully in use across the city in areas like Downtown and North Park.

Some residents on Lisbon Street say they weren't alerted to the traffic changes, but the city said the Transportation Department discussed the changes during a Skyline-Paradise Hills community planning group meeting.

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