San Diego began "Better By Bike" Wednesday, an outreach and education effort aimed at encouraging more residents to consider commuting by bicycle in May-- National Bike Month.
The city's climate action plan calls for an increase in commuter bicycling opportunities, especially in communities near major transit stops. The program will also highlight the city's efforts to improve bicycling infrastructure.
As part of the larger effort, the city will team up with the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition for the "Love to Ride" 25-day bicycling challenge, with events like the family week ride and new cyclist week.
People are urged to ride solo or with family members to comply with physical distancing guidelines. Indoor rides on stationary bikes are also counted toward participation. Prize drawings will be held each week of the challenge.
"With so many San Diegans staying home to help stop the spread of COVID-19, more people are also hopping on their bikes for exercise and to run essential errands, or just to feel connected while maintaining distance," said Cody Hooven, the city's chief sustainability officer. "We hope this becomes a new habit for people as they realize you don't need to be an athlete or expert cyclist to commute by bicycle. For your health and the health of our environment, it really is better to go by bike when you can."
As a result of the statewide stay-at-home order, vehicle traffic on San Diego's freeways and streets have decreased significantly. According to Caltrans, traffic volume on roads statewide is down an average of 35% compared to this time last year. Meanwhile, bicycling is up 55% over expected volumes during the first week of May in cities across the southwestern United States, according to data posted by Eco-Counter.
Last month, in response to requests from residents, commuter bikeways within city limits were reopened, including the State Route 56 bikeway and the San Diego River bikeway connecting Mission Valley and Ocean Beach. The city recently launched a Slow Streets program to allow more space for residents who are walking or bicycling in their neighborhoods.
Work continues on several bicycle infrastructure improvement projects across San Diego aimed at making streets safer for all users. In the downtown area, separated bikeways on J Street are being extended and both the Beech Street and C Street bikeways are being converted to two-way lanes. A new bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure are being added at Euclid and Market streets in Encanto.
To sign up for the Love to Ride 25-day challenge, click here. Participants who log their rides online may be eligible for prizes, including a new Brooklyn Bicycle cruiser and cycling gear.
Learn more about the city's bicycling program by clicking here.