Should Hillcrest Have More Parking Spots or Safer Bicycle Lanes?

The debate continues as construction of new bike lane features is set to begin

The debate between cyclists and small business owners continues in Hillcrest as the question remains: should there be more parking spots or safety features added to the bicycle lanes in the area? 

Fourth and Fifth Avenues in Hillcrest will soon have protected bicycle lanes, removing roughly 23 to 24 parking spots on the two streets. 

Dozens of business owners in the area are concerned they will lose customers and profits. With a lack of parking in the area already, some are concerned this new development will make them have to move or even shut down. 

“If you went to any of these businesses and said you’re going to lose 24 parking spaces within a block of you, they would immediately think, ‘I can’t stay in business,'" said Benjamin Nicholls, executive director of the Hillcrest Business Association. 

Nicholls said he is for pedestrian safety, but would like to see a parking structure built in the area so that businesses do not suffer. 

“We have fine dining, retail and furniture stores, you’re just not going to go there on a bicycle," added Nicholls. 

The San Diego Association of Governments, or SANDAG, a regional planning agency that is overseeing the project said it is currently in the final design phases of the protected bicycle lanes. Construction is set to start this year. 

“When you’re driving by a bike, they’re sometimes hard to see and they look so easy to hit so you have to be careful,” said Kevin Sneed, a resident of Hillcrest. 

Those for the project say many cars do not stop near the Hillcrest sign at Fifth Avenue and University Avenue.

“I come here every single day on my way to the gym,” said pedestrian Chef Dennis on Tuesday. "And every day I almost see someone getting hit or run over, like myself. Many times I’ve almost been hit.” 

There's also plans to add bicycle lanes to University Avenue. Angled parking would be added on Eighth Avenue and Tenth Avenue. 

"Parking is a major problem with customers around here," said Zia Nasery, a restaurant owner in Hillcrest. "You have to drive four or five times around just to find somewhere to park." 

The project is expected to cost about $13.2 million. 

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