You could soon have more space for physical distancing in typically bustling Ocean Beach thanks to an initiative that would reserve parts of a street for pedestrians and cyclists.
On Wednesday night, the Ocean Beach planning board voted in favor of temporarily converting Bacon Street to one-way traffic southbound for about 3/10 of a mile between Voltaire St. and Saratoga Ave. The northbound lane would be open to pedestrians and cyclists.
“I like to rollerblade. I think it would be interesting for sure for me," said Mary Sue Jurgella, who enjoys visiting Ocean Beach. "I wouldn’t be bothered either way, but I do think there are a lot of pedestrians on the street. Some cars are respectful and some are not."
The proposed street change vote was brought on by what's called the Slow Street Initiative. Streets are partially blocked off with signs to through-traffic to make it safer for pedestrians, giving them more space to socially distance.
It makes it easier for people to run, bike and walk during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially since sidewalks don't always provide six feet separation.
“There's not enough room to get around each, other so I guess it would be nice to have our own little area to ourselves," Ocean Beach resident, Staci Grimlich, said.
Pacific Beach has already implemented closures for the Slow Street initiative. Late last month, it blocked off portions of Diamond Street as part of the pilot program.
“It’s nice," said Matt Harris. "It gives us an opportunity to do something with no cars on the street. It’s not something we normally do, but we're adapting."
Longtime Pacific Beach resident, Russell Heims, said the initiative is a good thing, but he worries the summer's influx of vacationers could exacerbate one of his concerns.
“I see a little bit more traffic, but it’s still not summertime yet. We still don't have the Zonies in yet," he said.
Traffic concerns were also voiced by members of the Ocean Beach Planning Board during their meeting, as well as the impact on businesses. However, the proposed one-way area on Bacon is mostly residential.
"If delivery trucks stopped, that one lane would be blocked and no traffic could get through during delivery," Board Member Craig Klein said. "I don't see how that's workable."
Some board members also noted how much business was hurt when streets were closed for CicloSDias.
Meanwhile, Board Member Andrew Waltz noted “slowing the streets is worth it for our quality of life from tourist perspective.”
Thursday, the Ocean Beach Town Council will also discuss the issue. All recommendations will be passed along to Council member Jennifer Campbell’s office.