Report from North Coast Highway 101 Streetscape Project

Kate, our reader in Encinitas attended the North Coast Highway 101 Streetscape Project on Saturday and sent us this update:

I went with my son to the Streetscape information session yesterday. Total attendees were under 50 people (most were familiar faces) The focus was Birdrock as an example of a successful community process. I believe one of the goals was to address the phobia about roundabouts.  We arrived late, in the middle of a presentation by Ken Grimes, the executive director of Walk San Diego. His presentation was very thorough and informative when describing traffic calming. I found the portion about psychological calming really intriguing. In my career in design I found environmental psychology study vitally important perspective, especially informing change. The Birdrock Community Relations speaker, Joe La Cava, emphasized the process that community went through to achieve the boulevard design that is so successful. He stressed the importance of addressing each and every concern as legitimate. When people have the answers and the respect of being taken seriously, there can be resolution. The last speaker was a developer, Paul Metcalf, who was very entertaining, explaining his being on the other side of the planning process. He was on the traffic committee. He named one of the most profound changes was the elimination of noise. Living as I do in Leucadia - next to 101 and the train - I really heard what he was saying. And, he emphasized "Try to get community back from cars." But, alas there was an  San Diego engineer , Pazagod (I missed his full name), who spoke and lost all of the spirit and enthusiasm in the room. Isn't it dreadful how a terrible speaker can do so much damage? He droned on and on with absolutely no sense of his audience's discomfort.

My son was there under duress, so the terrible speaker pushed it all too far.  (I think of him and his friend we saw there as citizen novitiates, because being a citizen has become such a rarity in the US of A.) We left around noon in the middle of the question period. I wanted to ask for more specifics on biking - as the three presentations we'd suffered through had not given more than a passing reference. But, there were many hands in the air and the bad speaker kept taking the mic for more opportunities to suck all the oxygen from the room. I was happy to hear Peder Norby (a very important shaker and mover in Encinitas who has sustainability and localization central to his many past projects). He articulated in very simple terms the several main questions the nay-sayers always bring up. The first is the argument that reducing number of lanes and adding roundabouts will decrease traffic, slow traffic and cause drivers to use side streets. The panel of speakers were able to refute the first several points in a statistical and subjective way. The issue of auxiliary streets was one that was answered with examples of dealing with side street calming methods prior to the major 101 changes.

Despite my whining, I believe I learned something Saturday as I have at every one of these sessions. I look forward to studying the drawings better at the next scheduled event on October 8 at the Encinitas library. I spoke with Leucadia 101 activists today at the Farmers' Market and they said it is another information workshop and next Saturday's is the most important event for me to visit.  And, I did look at the Walk San Diego brochures at the takeaway table and visited their website. I was very impressed. The 10 year Walk San Diego report included highlights on the path to Walkability. It pinpoints steps including getting critically important funding.

Kate also sent us a link to this story from the Leucadia Blog titled "Every 75 to 100 years." The essay begins as follows:

Every 75 to 100 years communities get a chance to make a significant difference in their built environment

Read the rest of the essay here. And thank you Kate for the update on the Streetscape session.

North Coast Highway 101 Streetscape Project

Upcoming information workshops regarding the fate of a 2 mile stretch on Highway 101 from A Street to La Costa Avenue will be held on October, 3, 8, and the 10th in Encinitas (see calendar for details).

Early in 2008, the city of Encinitas "initiated a streetscape project to enhance the North Coast Highway 101 corridor." The initial focus was to create livable streets that included traffic calming measures and allow usage for all users of 101 including pedestrians, bicyclists, and automobile drivers. Among the alternatives presented by the city, this is how the public have voted to date:

Alternative #1 was preferred by 77% of the respondents,
1 northbound lane, two southbound lanes
5 roundabouts
1 stoplight
328 parking spaces

Alternative #2 was preferred by 4% of the respondents,
1 northbound lane, two southbound lanes
0 roundabouts
4 stoplight
350 parking spaces

Alternative #3 was preferred by 19% of the respondents,

1 northbound lane, two southbound lanes  (meandering slightly to preserve existing trees)
5 roundabouts
1 stoplight
261 parking spaces

Alternative #4
Alternative #4

Alternative Proposal #4 includes space for a walking trail, a Class II bike lane, either parallel or reverse parking lane and roundabouts. As of today, we have no information on how the public voted on Alternative #4 . The Alternative Proposal #5 that will be presented at the next Streetscape Project session will be based on feedback from the public and will include no traffic calming measures such as roundabouts, reverse angle parking or lane reductions.

Encinitas residents attending the workshops have stated that preserving the character of the city is a prime concern. However, removing traffic calming measures and continuing to emphasize parking spaces and speed on the roadways is hardly the solution to preserving the beach town character of Encinitas. Allowing all users of a public roads to have equal access is important. But so is reducing vehicular speeds, improving safety and enhancing the quality of life.

Please feel free to contact Diane Langager, Principal Planner by phone at 760/633-2714 or by e-mail at with any questions and/or comments you have regarding the North Coast Highway 101 Streetscape project.

City of San Diego decides to (finally) pave it forward

District 3 Council member, Todd Gloria, along with Mayor Sanders announced news that will be welcomed by bicyclists all over the city: Roads are finally going to be paved.

In statement this morning, Council member Gloria stated how much the city of San Diego's infrastructure had been ignored. The investment to repair the streets has been increased by 400% to 79.2 million dollars for 2009. This is a huge change because in 2005, only 5 miles of roads were repaved in the city. This year, 65 miles of roads are going to be repaved. To watch the announcement, click the video below.

Interview with Ride the City's Jordan and Vaidila

You may have noticed the link to Ride the City on our side bar. But what is Ride the City?

Ride the city is a "website that helps you find the safest bike routes in cities.

Like MapQuest, Google Maps, and other mapping applications, Ride the City finds the shortest distance between two points, with a difference. First, RTC avoids roads that aren't meant for biking, like highways and busy arterial streets. Second, RTC tries to steer cyclists toward routes that maximize the use of bike lanes, bike paths, greenways, and other bike-friendly streets."

Jordan and Vaidila
Jordan and Vaidila

While bicyclists continue to petition companies like Google to create a "bike there" option to aid in planning routes, Vaidila Kungys and Jordan Anderson decided to create a site that would make that dream a reality. "Ride the City was launched by Vaidila Kungys and Jordan Anderson, friends who met while enrolled in New York University's urban planning program." They created a resource where bicyclists could create bicycle friendly routes to get around a city.

When we learned that Ride The City (RTC) would be officially launching in San Diego later this month, we were ecstatic. We contacted the brains behind the operation to find out more about Ride the City.

BikeSD: What was the original idea behind Ride The City? Since you originally started in NYC, were you filling a void?
RTC: While we were in grad school, we talked a lot about something like Ride the City. At one point Jordan reached out to Hop Stop to inquire if they'd be interested to add bicycle routing to their mix of transportation options, but the idea didn't grab their attention. We decided to give it a shot for NYC, and since then we've begun to expand it elsewhere. We were definitely filling a void because aside from the printed NYC Bike Map, which we still recommend as the gold standard, but before Ride the City it was not easy to get a quick answer for a best bike route.

BikeSD: Now that you have begun to expand into other cities, what have been your challenges in providing route suggestions? Do you have someone local in the city to advise you of locations of bike paths, bike shops, etc?
RTC: In other cities we face the same challenges that we hit in NYC, essentially acquiring data on the existing bicycle facilities. It's actually been surprising to find that cities have such varied methodologies for determining bicycle facilities: some cities use the traditional categories for bike facilities (separated greenway=class 1; on-street bike lane=class 2, etc); others categorize the use rating of streets; while others determine the level of service for bike routes. We have to make sense of the data before we can plug it into Ride the City.

Local partners are definitely key to making Ride the City a useful tool because, after all, if locals aren't using our routes, it doesn't make sense that we should think they're the best safe routes. When we work on a city we strive to collaborate with local partners to suggest bike routes and, at a minimum, to have them test the routes generated by Ride the City before we launch the new city.

BikeSD: What criteria do you look for when deciding to include a city in the Ride the City database?
RTC: Most importantly, we're looking for cities. Ride the City targets urban centers so our focus is not the small rural community. This leads us to look to the largest cities, such as NYC and Chicago. We're also a bit whimsical about it, choosing cities that we think would be fun to have for Ride the City: Austin's not really that big but it's a huge bicycling town and, well, everyone loves Austin.

BikeSD: What has been the most challenging aspect in creating and maintaining Ride the City?
RTC: Probably maintaining full-time jobs while trying to create and expand a project that could easily use a couple of full-time staff members. Aside from the data and programming, which takes a lot of time, we're trying to promote the site, build strategic partnerships with local bicycling groups, respond to users feedback to improve the service, post to our blog, and at the same time we're dealing with funding, legal, and other administrative

BikeSD: How can the bicycle community in San Diego support Ride the City?
RTC: The best way to make Ride the City useful is to generate routes and, after riding the route in the real world, to come back to the Ride the City website and submit feedback through the "rate the route" link. Feedback comes straight to us and we use it to improve Ride the City so that future routes will take appropriate comments into consideration, whether good or bad. Users make Ride the City better every day.


Thank you Jordan and Vaidila for taking the time to answer our questions. Ride the City is a valuable resource and we're sure it will benefit many riders in this canyon filled city.

Readers, be sure to use the site and offer relevant feedback as needed.

Helping Low-Income Workers By Strapping Them Into Cars

CNN considers this woman a hero. Filed under "Misdirected Do-Goodery":

Since 2003, Wheels of Success has refurbished 280 donated cars for low-income individuals and families and helped another 280 clients with vehicle-related services. "Receiving ... the car is more than just the car," said Jacobs. "People literally see how it's going to change their life" by knocking down an obstacle that had gotten in their way due to lack of transportation.