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Hancock Street to get sharrows

"This area will be the next Little Italy"

Hancock Street is currently dedicated to cars.
Hancock Street is currently dedicated to cars.

A three-block stretch of Hancock Street, between Noell and Witherby, will get 23 new parking spots, and a bike lane that makes use of a street configuration never before tried in San Diego.

Jamasson called the unprotected sharrows "a bike symbol symbolic of token safety gestures."

The experimental design will use a roadway striping configuration that allows for two-way motor vehicle and non-motorized traffic using a center lane and “advisory” lanes on either side. Unlike dedicated bike lanes, they overlap with the vehicle travel area, and are being used to replace sharrows.

It took three years to draft a workable re-design, brought about by the city's transportation department partnering with the Hancock Street Neighborhood Business Association. But it began as a collision between bike advocates and businesses.

The wide street is currently dedicated to cars, and there's never enough parking, business owners say.

"Basically, this area will be the next Little Italy," says Scott Murfey, who belongs to the business association.

But as more mixed use developments take shape, residents who prefer to bike, walk, or take transit face a different problem – being forced to jostle with cars. The segment of Hancock Street that will be revamped is mostly industrial, lying between I-5 and Pacific Highway and two rail lines.

In a post on Bike San Diego titled Save the Hancock Street bike lane, cycling advocate Paul Jamasson referred to numerous local cases "where preserving or adding street parking has neutered badly-needed bike infrastructure.

That almost happened.

The Midway-Pacific Highway Community Plan Update in 2018 called for re-zoning the area from industrial to mixed-use village with very high residential densities. It was meant to transform the auto-oriented network by emphasizing transit, bicycle, and pedestrian links.

A bike lane was included as part of the proposed Hancock Transit Corridor. But as the planning unfolded, the businesses joined to rally for more parking – and an end to the proposed bike improvements; specifically, the class II bike lanes in both directions along Hancock Street between Old Town Avenue and Noell Street.

Bike advocates said the lanes wouldn't remove parking spaces; the businesses just wanted additional on-street parking.

The planning commission voted against the bike lane. While the city continued to support it, they were asked by the Smart Growth & Land Use Committee to research ways to accommodate both the bike lane and the extra parking.

The businesses then came up with an alternative proposal, the South Hancock Shareway, that would use reverse angle parking on both sides of the street, and bicycle sharrows. It was an inexpensive solution they said would reduce congestion while promoting bicycle safety.

Jamasson called the unprotected sharrows "a bike symbol symbolic of token safety gestures."

The new project is a compromise.

"This is not the Hancock Shareway that was originally proposed," says Dorian Siemens, operations manager of Vertical Hold, one of the Hancock Street businesses.

But it should bring the businesses more than 20 new parking spaces, while adding a pedestrian crosswalk, and north and south lane space for cyclists. The western curbline of Hancock will be converted to 90 degree front-in parking stalls, and the eastern curbline will remain parallel parking, he says.

Joshua Coyne, staff with city councilmember Jen Campbell, who helped facilitate the proposal, said the advisory bike lanes would be the first application of this type in San Diego.

The solution is sometimes used when a street isn't wide enough to add bike lanes without taking out parking.

"It really is a win win win for the city, residents and businesses in this very busy stretch of Hancock Street."

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Hancock Street is currently dedicated to cars.
Hancock Street is currently dedicated to cars.

A three-block stretch of Hancock Street, between Noell and Witherby, will get 23 new parking spots, and a bike lane that makes use of a street configuration never before tried in San Diego.

Jamasson called the unprotected sharrows "a bike symbol symbolic of token safety gestures."

The experimental design will use a roadway striping configuration that allows for two-way motor vehicle and non-motorized traffic using a center lane and “advisory” lanes on either side. Unlike dedicated bike lanes, they overlap with the vehicle travel area, and are being used to replace sharrows.

It took three years to draft a workable re-design, brought about by the city's transportation department partnering with the Hancock Street Neighborhood Business Association. But it began as a collision between bike advocates and businesses.

The wide street is currently dedicated to cars, and there's never enough parking, business owners say.

"Basically, this area will be the next Little Italy," says Scott Murfey, who belongs to the business association.

But as more mixed use developments take shape, residents who prefer to bike, walk, or take transit face a different problem – being forced to jostle with cars. The segment of Hancock Street that will be revamped is mostly industrial, lying between I-5 and Pacific Highway and two rail lines.

In a post on Bike San Diego titled Save the Hancock Street bike lane, cycling advocate Paul Jamasson referred to numerous local cases "where preserving or adding street parking has neutered badly-needed bike infrastructure.

That almost happened.

The Midway-Pacific Highway Community Plan Update in 2018 called for re-zoning the area from industrial to mixed-use village with very high residential densities. It was meant to transform the auto-oriented network by emphasizing transit, bicycle, and pedestrian links.

A bike lane was included as part of the proposed Hancock Transit Corridor. But as the planning unfolded, the businesses joined to rally for more parking – and an end to the proposed bike improvements; specifically, the class II bike lanes in both directions along Hancock Street between Old Town Avenue and Noell Street.

Bike advocates said the lanes wouldn't remove parking spaces; the businesses just wanted additional on-street parking.

The planning commission voted against the bike lane. While the city continued to support it, they were asked by the Smart Growth & Land Use Committee to research ways to accommodate both the bike lane and the extra parking.

The businesses then came up with an alternative proposal, the South Hancock Shareway, that would use reverse angle parking on both sides of the street, and bicycle sharrows. It was an inexpensive solution they said would reduce congestion while promoting bicycle safety.

Jamasson called the unprotected sharrows "a bike symbol symbolic of token safety gestures."

The new project is a compromise.

"This is not the Hancock Shareway that was originally proposed," says Dorian Siemens, operations manager of Vertical Hold, one of the Hancock Street businesses.

But it should bring the businesses more than 20 new parking spaces, while adding a pedestrian crosswalk, and north and south lane space for cyclists. The western curbline of Hancock will be converted to 90 degree front-in parking stalls, and the eastern curbline will remain parallel parking, he says.

Joshua Coyne, staff with city councilmember Jen Campbell, who helped facilitate the proposal, said the advisory bike lanes would be the first application of this type in San Diego.

The solution is sometimes used when a street isn't wide enough to add bike lanes without taking out parking.

"It really is a win win win for the city, residents and businesses in this very busy stretch of Hancock Street."

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