The business owners and small group of residents who opposed turning University Avenue into a more pedestrian-friendly street appear to have won over planners of the San Diego Association of Governments.
During a June 5 meeting, the group’s boardmembers will vote on a scaled-down version of the Uptown Bike Corridor Project, which, if approved, abandons previous plans to close a block-long portion of University Avenue and construct a dedicated bike lane leading into Hillcrest's business center. In addition, the plan called for the removal of some parking to make room for the pedestrian-friendly changes.
Businesses and some nearby residents rejected the plan from the outset. They said closing any portion of University Avenue would only increase an already congested Washington Street. At the same time, a few business owners also attacked the association of governments for removing any amount of parking in Hillcrest.
Despite staunch support from cycling advocates, the association appears to have bowed down to the business owners and small group of Mission Hills residents who opposed the plan.
According to an association of governments staff report: "Much input has recently been received from the community regarding portions of the University Avenue section of Corridor #2, between Washington Street and Normal Street, including both support for the project and expressions of concern for potential impacts to parking, neighborhood access, and traffic.
"In response to this additional community feedback, [the association] is seeking direction on a change in project features for this project section to a more constrained bikeway project than the original design concepts. In general, this alternative proposes shared travel lanes rather than protected bikeways along the more constrained sections of the corridor."
The Hillcrest Business Association is already onboard with the plan:
"Equally important, it’s our understanding the revised scope will maintain eastbound vehicular access to University Avenue from Washington Street, and it will also minimize the parking loss along University Avenue throughout the Hillcrest business core.
"The [Hillcrest Business Association] has always advocated for a balanced plan — one that provides alternative transportation options while still respecting the reality that many customers access Hillcrest businesses by car. We feel both goals are met under the revised scope, and we respectfully ask for the Transportation Committee’s support."
While the business group and the association of governments appear to be on the same page, cycling advocates feel the constrained approach only adds tighter restrictions on cyclists and does nothing to improve San Diego's poor standing on the list of pro-cycling cities.
According to survey website Redfin Research Center, San Diego ranked 115th on the list of bike-friendly cities, just two spots better than Des Moines, Iowa.