Downtown Bike Lane Network Gets Green Light from Council

The City Council approved the plan on an 8-0 vote.

San Diego's downtown isn't exactly bike-friendly. 

But that'll start to change under a bold undertaking that rolled through City Hall on Tuesday.

It's called the Downtown Mobility Plan, and it extends beyond the Financial District to Little Italy, the Gaslamp, East Village and Bankers Hill.

Over the next two to three decades, nearly $63 million will be earmarked for a series of improvements to benefit pedal-pushers and pedestrians alike

As Ocean Beach resident Mia Bolton told NBC 7: “This plan is particularly important for the everyday commuters like me, who would use the bike lanes that are proposed to get to and from work, or who are coming downtown to hang out with friends. Not so much the racing bike riders."

Cyclists face a lot of competition for space on downtown's streets -- competition that all too often yields grudgingy, honking and pulling around riders in a big hurry.

The mobility plan calls for a nine-mile network of “protected” bike lanes, like one already road-tested on 5th Avenue in Bankers Hill, on several major thoroughfares.

Along with safety, there's a "climate action" benefit being touted.

But the plan has upset property owners, businesses, a church and grade school in Little Italy, who fear that the elimination of traffic lanes and parking spaces will cause financial setbacks and inconveniences.

Bike advocates say cities with long-standing similar plans, such as San Francisco and Denver, have done research and found just the opposite.

“People want to come and live in the communities that have these bike lanes,” says Andy Hanshaw, executive director of the San Diego County Bike Coalition. “People want to work in a city and a downtown that has a pedestrian and cycling network in it, so they don't have to own a car. That's going to help business."

The City Council wound up approving the plan on an 8-0 vote.

In addition to the pathway projects for cyclists and pedestrians, there'll be new parking structures and strategies, such as diagonal spaces, to offset whatever's lost to the bike lanes.

The plan’s backers say it’s actually expected to result in a net gain of parking spaces.

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