The Case for Protected Bike Lanes (aka Cycle Tracks) on El Cajon Boulevard

As part of SANDAG’s Early Action Plan (projects to be implemented within the next decade), the design of two regional bike projects scheduled to be implemented in the City of San Diego are already underway.

Given the resounding support from the first  North Park-Mid-City meeting for peaceful, neighborhood greenways and efficient, connected cycletracks, we’re proposing a design idea of what El Cajon Boulevard could look like if a protected bike lane (cycle track) was implemented along the entire length of El Cajon Boulevard.

El Cajon BRT and Cycle Track Design
El Cajon BRT and Cycle Track Design. Design by Everett Hauser. Click for bigger version.

The above rendering shows the protected bike lane protected by parked cars, a design that has currently been implemented with great success in Long Beach, CA.

Why should the bicycle riders be protected by parked cars? To quote Jan Gehl, a Danish architect and urban design consultant based in Copenhagen, this design allows “parked cars to protect the bicycles instead of the bicyclists protecting the parked cars.” The focus should be on keeping people safe from harm. This design has been implemented elsewhere in the country and is also a part of the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide – a guide we want the city to adopt so that planning for bicycle use can move away from the highway design manuals that is currently in effect and instead use guidelines specific to bicycle usage.

The SANDAG Early Action Project has specific objectives that we believe will be met with the implementation of protected bike lanes. The objectives are:

  • Implementing the Regional Bicycle Network (part of the Regional Bicycle Plan): Implementing the network will add life to the street, will transform El Cajon Boulevard to be more attractive to people who currently do not ride and will accommodate the future transit project.
  • Street Parking Remains – This will grow business by bringing more people to the Boulevard rather than moving auto traffic through the neighborhood.

As for neighborhood greenways where through vehicle traffic is discouraged? We don’t see our proposal as being an either/or proposition. We proposed both protected bike lanes on El Cajon Boulevard, and neighborhood greenways (bicycle boulevards) along parallel streets like Howard Avenue or Meade Avenue. People who want to get places need multiple options. Just like San Diegans currently have a choice in driving on the I-8, SR-94 or on University Avenue and El Cajon Boulevard to traverse the east/west corridors, bicycle riders also should be offered the ability and option to get to their destinations along routes designed with them in mind. Forcing riders to contend with high speed traffic or relegating them to dimly lit residential streets is not the way forward, not the way to make San Diego a world-class bicycling city.

Don’t forget to attend tonight’s Mid-City/North Park Community Advisory Group Meeting. Details are below.

6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Sunset Temple
3911 Kansas Street
San Diego, CA 92104

Update: It seems that some of our supporters were concerned about how the design would deal riders wanting to ride across intersections. We’ve been documenting some of the best treatments for intersections here as part of our “Foto Friday” series which includes the ideal, and some interim measures which include separate traffic lights to ensure all users can get through safely.