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The City’s Growing Bike Contingent: What the Candidates for District 9 Say

By Megan Burks

San Diego’s growing bike contingent is becoming a game-changer in local politics. A group many may have expected to hold liberal views is being courted by Republican mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher. And cyclists are softening to his charms.

A cyclist himself and the only candidate to lay out a detailed bikes plan, Fletcher has caught on to something here: the San Diego cyclist vote just might rest as much on fresh pavement as it does on social politics.

Cyclists here are anxious for updated routes. And they’re anxious for some consideration. Car-centric funding policies give bike projects just a sliver of the transportation pie. And car-centric street design puts bike-riders at risk.

Both complaints are especially relevant in Mid-City, where many residents rely on alternative modes of transportation due to affordability issues and diverse cultures and lifestyles. But cyclists are more likely to be injured in City Heights, according to Health Equity by Design. Between 2002 and 2007, there were 2.45 collisions involving cyclists per 1,000 residents there, compared to 1.99 crashes per 1,000 residents citywide.

So this week, we asked the candidates vying to represent the neighborhood on City Council to join Fletcher’s conversation with cyclists. We asked Mateo Camarillo and Councilwoman Marti Emerald: City Heights is becoming homebase for San Diego’s bike contingent, with many of its residents relying on alternative modes of transportation and advocates like Sam Ollinger (www.bikesd.org) and bike collective Bikes del Pueblo situated within its boundaries. If elected, how would you prioritize cyclists and what bike-related projects, if any, would you take on?

Mateo Camarillo | Courtesy of Camarillo

Mateo Camarillo
Businessman and activist
Residents of District 9 have significantly less access to vehicles or public transportation than any other district in the city. There is no reliable mass transit. Bus transportation is limited, especially for north-south routes.

The use of bikes for transportation, recreation and promoting healthy lifestyles should be encouraged and supported by diverse groups, including the City of San Diego. City actions I would take if elected include developing bike-friendly streets like those that exist in Kensington (bike lanes painted on street surfaces, international signage, reduced speeds with bike lanes for more bike-friendly and safer co-existence of bike and vehicle traffic). I would also advocate for more bike parking (racks, etc.) at government facilities (libraries, parks, schools, as well as businesses). I would work on developing a co-op gym/exercise facility with nutritional foods within the district to promote alternative, healthy lifestyles including increased use of bikes.

En Español: Muchos residents en City Heights dependen de medios de transporte alternativos como el uso de bicicletas. Hay promotores en el districto como BIKES del Pueblo y Sam Ollinger (www.bikesd.org).

Si gano la election, fomentaria el uso de bicicletas para el transporte estudiantil, recrecion, y promocion de estilo de vidas saludables. Tambien creo que es importante tomar en cuenta la seguridad de los ciclistas con senalamientos internacionales en las calles y pintar lineas para ciclistas en el pavimiento asi como ya existen en la comunidad de Kensington y reducer la velosidad de los autos para la seguridad de bicicletas. Abogaria tanbien para que se impongan mas espacios/estacionamientos para bicicletas (racks) en instalaciones de gobierno (bibliotecas, parques, escuelas, y en empresas). Trabajaria tambien en el desarollo de instalaciones de gimnacios de coperativas con alimentos nutricionales para promover una alternativa saludable.

Marti Emerald | Credit: Abigail Santos

Marti Emerald
District 7 Councilwoman
San Diego is one of the few regions where the weather allows us to ride our bicycles just about every day of the year. And a growing number of San Diegans are now riding their bikes for exercise and enjoyment, or as an alternative form of transportation. But many of these hearty souls put themselves at risk when they pedal our crumbling streets.

My City Council colleagues and I have just approved an extension of the most ambitious street repair program in San Diego’s history.  As part of this repair program, my staff and I will make sure bike lanes are improved as we repair roads and sidewalks. We also have major streets through City Heights like Fairmount, University and El Cajon Boulevard, which are prime candidates for wider and visibly designated bike lanes.  Let’s explore our options and create a network of streets that allow cyclists to ride safely and enjoyably from one end of the city to the other.

One of the goals of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition is to create a strategy for San Diego’s biking future. The public is invited to a two-day regional planning event March 31 and April 1, at the downtown Omni Hotel. Here’s an opportunity to make a difference to improve biking for the future generations. For more information go to www.bikesd.org.

We also need more “parking” spots for bicycles in our Mid-City neighborhoods to encourage people to ride their bikes, knowing there will be a place they can safely and securely leave their bikes while in the store, the library or coffee shop.

I look forward to your ideas for a more bike friendly City Heights. And don’t forget:  May 19th is Bike the Boulevard Day!  sponsored by the El Cajon Blvd Business Improvement Association.  See you there.

En Español: La Ciudad San Diego es una de las pocas regiones donde el clima nos permite montar nuestras bicicletas casi todos los días del año. Y un numero creciente de residentes ya está montando sus bicicletas para el ejercicio y la recreación, o como una forma alternativa de transporte. Pero muchas de estas almas fuertes se ponen en riesgo cuando andan por nuestras calles ruinosas en sus bicicletas.

Mis colegas del Consejo y yo acabamos de aprobar una extensión del programa de reparación de calle más ambicioso en la historia de San Diego. Como parte de este programa de reparación de calle, mi personal y yo nos aseguraremos que carriles de bicicleta son mejorados también. También tenemos calles principales a través de City Heights, como Fairmount, University y El Cajon, que son los candidatos principales para carriles de bicicleta más amplio y visiblemente designado. Vamos a explorar nuestras opciones y crear una red de calles que permiten ciclistas a montar de forma segura y divertida desde un extremo de la ciudad al otro.

Uno de los objetivos de la Coalición de Bicicleta del Condado de San Diego es crear una estrategia para el futuro del ciclismo en San Diego. Le hemos invitado el público a un evento regional de planificación el 31 de marzo y el 1 de abril, en el Hotel Omni en el centro de la ciudad. Es una oportunidad para mejorar ciclismo para las generaciones futuras. Para obtener más información, visite www.bikesd.org.

También necesitamos más espacios de estacionamiento para bicicletas en nuestros barrios de Mid-City para animar a la gente a montar sus bicicletas. Esos espacios permitirán la gente saber que hay lugares en que pueden dejar sus bicicletas seguramente mientras andan por la tienda, la biblioteca, o el café.

Tengo ganas de oír sus ideas para una City Heights más amable con el ciclismo. Y no olvide – ¡el 19 de mayo es el Día del Ciclismo en el Bulevar, patrocinado por la Asociación del Mejoramiento de los Negocios de El Cajon Boulevard! ¡Nos vemos!

Miss our previous Q&As with the candidates? Find out what they have to say about:


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6 Responses to The City’s Growing Bike Contingent: What the Candidates for District 9 Say

  1. wpstoll says:

    Emerald has a mixed track record regarding safe cycling infrastructure in District 7. Her administration was a marked improvement from the Madaffer regime, which stonewalled calls for help from the cycling community. Under Emerald’s leadership the bike lanes on Kearny Villa Rd. were re-paved, but only after KUSI’s Mike Turko embarrassed the city with a report on the problem area. She still failed to support squaring the deadly high speed merge onto southbound SR163 that has claimed the lives of two experienced cyclists. Her rhetoric above sounds as if she is trying to jump the cycling issues train started by mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher by late hour pandering to the growing influence of the cycling community in San Diego. The positive side of this reflects a changing political reality in which the voices of local cyclists can no longer be ignored.

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