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San Diego Residents Most Likely to Bike Have Fewer Bike Lanes

Randy Van Vleck, the active transportation manager for for the City Heights Community Development Corporation, talks with Media Arts Center Teen Producers about the need for safe streets in City Heights.

By Manny Jimenez, Oscar Perez, Trevor Seines,
Beckett Browning, Eliana Weinthal, John Fields,
Alex Angleman and Tia Hill

The City Heights Community Development Corporation and other partnering organizations have received approval for a design that will improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists at 54th Street and University Avenue. The plan will also bring buffered bike lanes from 54th Street east to 60th Street.

The plan is the community and city’s response to dangerous road conditions that contributed to 77 accidents at the intersection between 2000 and 2010.

Pedestrian and bike safety is a particularly big issue in City Heights because its residents have the lowest car ownership rates and highest transit ridership in the city, according to Randy Van Vleck, the active transportation manager for for the City Heights CDC. Neighborhood infrastructure, however, still favors cars.

Van Vleck told youth filmakers from the Media Arts Center San Diego’s Teen Producers Program that communities where residents are less likely to bike actually have 25 times more bike lanes than City Heights, which has just three.

You can watch the interview with Van Vleck above.

Transcript: Currently, the streets aren’t very safe now. In the span of four years, 114 kids were hit by cars while walking or biking within a quarter-mile of a City Heights elementary school.

It’s a really popular place. It’s really hard to cross the street due to visibility problems in the design. Also, if you’re riding westbound, you have a high-speed, free-flowing merge. If you’re on a bike, it’s really hard because all of a sudden you’ll get pinned between two cars.

Most of it has to do with the built environment of City Heights. There’s a lack of complete streets here. Intersections like this one are primarily designed for automobiles and motorists first, pedestrians, cyclists and transit last. In ten years, there were 77 crashes here, many of them involving pedestrians and bicyclists.

City Heights is the San Diego region’s most walking-, biking- and transit-dependent community. We have the lowest automobile ownership in the region and the highest transit ridership. At some schools, about 90 percent of kids walk to school so there’s definitely a well-documented need and demand for safe streets.

The average City of San Diego neighborhood, per capita, has 25 times more bike lanes than City Heights. We only have three bike lanes in the entire community of 80,000+ people.

The University Avenue Mobility plan is going to install a buffered bike lane from 54th to around 60th and some other bike facilities out to 68th. This intersection here has been approved to be redesigned. We’re going to implement the principles of the Complete Streets Act, which is a California law that requires municipalities to design streets that are safe for everyone, not just one group. Now were trying to get funding to reuild the intersection so it will be safe for everyone.

The big picture goal is for a neighborhood where anyone can get to where they need to go safely, whether they choose to drive, walk, bike or take transit.


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