Cross Section of University Ave showing bike paths, landscaping, and transit

BikeSD Voices: An Open Letter I Sent to the Planners behind the Hillcrest Plan Amendment

BikeSD Voices: An Open Letter I Sent to the Planners behind the Hillcrest Plan Amendment

Author: Nevo Magnezi

I recently attended the Uptown Planners Plan Hillcrest subcommittee meeting, Mobility Network Concepts, on June 30th. Or in plainspeak, planners and consultants from the city presented to community members and board members (appointed from Uptown Planners) transportation concepts that will be incorporated as part of the upcoming Community Plan Update for Hillcrest. You can learn more about this process on their website, and can see the slide deck they presented on June 30th, which I based my response on, here: Hillcrest CPG – Mobility June 2022 PDF

As someone who has been advocating for better mobility for several years, I wanted to provide new advocates an example of some of the key points I make. Admittedly, this isn’t one of my best worded emails (more like my manic midnight brain talking), but I thought it could be useful regardless.

Feel free to take my email as an inspiration to write your own with regards to mobility in Hillcrest.


Dear Ms. Mulderig, Ms. Brizuela, and Ms. Chen,

My name is Nevo Magnezi. I live in Hillcrest (have lived in both the east and southwestern portions of the plan focus area) and have been attending the Plan Hillcrest subcommittee meetings more or less since they began. I also volunteer for Bike San Diego.

I am reaching out because I’d like to provide some feedback on the most recent presentation. I am grateful for the visioning and options that the city and Chen Ryan Associates are providing and I think that whatever the outcome, it will be an improvement over the status quo.

My main concern is that planners were too quick to abandon the idea of envisioning University Ave as an active transportation and transit corridor. There are many examples around the world, the country, and, once the Gaslamp Promenade is implemented downtown, even the city, of walkable commercial corridors with very limited private automobile access, other than emergency vehicles and deliveries during specified hours.

One of my favorite examples is of the Jerusalem Light Rail, which you can see in this video: Multiple shots show densely packed shopping streets with connectivity of both sides of the street only interrupted by the light rail train with headways of several minutes. These sorts of streets provide maximum throughput via transit, bringing people to their key destinations, while also providing a lively atmosphere to people walking and biking. People walking and biking do not feel isolated from the other side of the street or abused by smelly exhaust, extremely loud cars, or forced to walk needlessly to the next signalized intersection to cross  (the situation on University Ave today), because, for most of the time, there is nothing stopping them from walking to their destination on the other side of the street immediately where they are.

By recommending a vehicle network that retains general vehicle access to University Ave, I fear you will be robbing residents and visitors of the urban linear park experience that you are advocating for in other parts of the plan. The issues you identified in the presentation will certainly need to be addressed at the time of implementation, but are, for the most part, not major issues.

Your presentation claims that Option 1 would eliminate access to Fire Station No 5. Most emergency calls (65 percent) are for medical events– eliminating fast-moving traffic that cause serious injuries and fatalities and promoting a healthy lifestyle through urban design is one of the best ways that urban planners can reduce the number of emergency calls made in the first place. But even beyond that, I hypothesize that even under Option 2, emergency responders would be more likely to use the transit lanes over the general vehicle lanes anyways due to the fact that the transit lanes will, by design, should see no congestion. It seems to me very backwards that we would need to maintain high speed vehicle access so the ambulance can get to us quickly after we are run over by a vehicle that’s there because we needed vehicle only access for the ambulance.  I claim to be no expert on the considerations of emergency vehicle response times in people-centric streets, but I would like to share this resource I found on the NACTO website “Best Practices: Emergency Access in Healthy Streets.”

Three of your major issues are regarding traffic circulation and congestion. It sounds like you are taking an older Level Of Service approach towards the plan area rather than a reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled approach. In the same plan, you include light and commuter rail and low stress protected bikeways. Under these schemes, people will be moved by walking, biking and transit facilities by a factor that will dwarf the number of people moving by private automobile. If transit headways or signal timing for bikeways are not considerations of the plan amendment, then why should vehicle congestion on nearby freeways be? This approach fundamentally favors the status quo and will not allow San Diego to achieve its climate action or Vision Zero goals. Caltrans is one of the agencies responsible for 55 percent of San Diego GHG emissions coming from cars and maintain right-of-way that is responsible for countless collisions that affect vulnerable road users. The fact that even basic painted bike lanes disappear when going over their right-of-way, such as University Ave over SR-163, shows how much contempt that they hold for my life and the life of anyone not in a car. Congestion on SR-163 on-ramps cannot and should not be a concern for the Hillcrest Plan.

Finally, there is the issue of deliveries. If the Gaslamp Promenade, which is being planned and funded as we speak, can already claim per their website that “the Gaslamp Promenade will be open for deliveries from 3:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., seven days a week,” then why are deliveries a barrier to implementation for our long-term planning just two miles away? With deliveries, and with all of these points, the Gaslamp Promenade sets an important San Diego precedent (since we seem so eager to disregard examples from any city other than our own). If a Gaslamp Promenade, then why not a Hillcrest Promenade?

My next concern is regarding the recommended Bicycle Network. As I stated during my comment, sharrows don’t do anything. This isn’t just my perspective. According to a 13 year study of a dozen cities, it is safer to not have them at all. I am grateful that planners were able to minimize them from the recommended plan in favor of other facilities, but I would also strongly encourage the amended plan not to have them at all. Instead, it would be better to designate them all as “Enhanced Class III- Bike Boulevards.” This would reinforce to those implementing the plans to not simply “slap a sharrow on it,” but rather implement true traffic calming. I think it’s also important to qualify both these and all bicycle boulevards that the street must be designed (per NACTO), to be with a target vehicle speed of less than 20mph and volume of less than 2000 ADT, or target speed of 25mph and less than 1500 ADT.

For places where you don’t intend for those speeds and volumes, such as Sixth Ave and parts of First Ave, it is negligent to suggest that no bike facilities (which is what sharrows are) are sufficient. This is an area slated for a lot of development, and connects directly to San Diego’s Crown Jewel, Balboa Park, in the case of Sixth Ave, or a massive medical complex with tens of thousands of employees, in the case of First Ave. I strongly encourage you to include Class IV facilities as part of the plan, or simply acknowledge that you intend hardly anyone to feel safe and comfortable biking there at all.

Regarding the planned Class II – bike lane facilities, I think it is also important to qualify these with the point that they are only appropriate for streets with target speeds of 25mph or less and volumes less than 6000 ADT. In the example of Robinson Ave, this would imply that the target speed would be reduced from 30mph to 25mph, if the plan were to be implemented today. Robinson Ave between Tenth Ave and Park Blvd is also a wide street with low-volumes, and can be difficult to cross as a pedestrian. I think it would be a great candidate for the extension of the Landis-style roundabout treatment that SANDAG completed east of Park Blvd, and that will connect to Robinson Ave in Hillcrest via an elevated path.

Thank you again for your work. I realize that my email is a bit more long-winded than I intended, but I would appreciate a discussion regarding any or all of the above points.


Nevo Magnezi

Hillcrest Resident

Finding the Gold in Advisory Lanes

I dream of quiet, safe, neighborhood streets with networks of bikeways that promote efficient, healthy, and joyful commutes near and far, for all ages and abilities. After attending Circulate’s Vision Zero Coalition meeting and the Mira Mesa Town Council this evening, I am providing an update to the previous article about advisory bike lanes as new bicycle infrastructure for San Diego. 

There is gold to be found on Gold Coast Drive and I'm hoping it will be dispersed throughout the city, in neighborhoods that are frustrated with high speed, cut through traffic. Gold Coast Drive in Mira Mesa, Evergreen in Point Loma, and many other streets are great candidates for this new type of road design to create safer streets by calming traffic speeds through our neighborhoods.  The benefits of these types of lane markings are a reduction of vehicles on the street, lower vehicle speeds, quieter neighborhoods, less pollution, and safe access to key destinations. As a property owner, that sounds pretty nice. 

Unfortunately, much of the Mira Mesa community hasn’t realized the value of the innovative design, known as advisory bike lanes. On Monday, many expressed concern over perceived dangers such as increased traffic, head on collisions, and drunk drivers. Lacking accurate information about how advisory bike lanes work, and how successful they’ve been on streets with similar characteristics, they argued that advisory bike lanes are inappropriate for Gold Coast Drive. However, research has found a significant reduction of crashes on roads where advisory bike lanes were implemented; an aggregate 44% reduction in crashes. 

There is an alternative solution of providing protected bikeways that would be safer, but this option requires removing parking spaces which is not an easy sell. Gold Coast Drive is a neighborhood street with a designated 25 miles per hour speed limit, therefore, edge lanes are an appropriate design.

Many mentioned last night that Gold Coast Drive is a cut through used by drivers to avoid congestion on Mira Mesa Boulevard.  Hello neighbors, wouldn’t your quality of life and property values improve if you lived on a more peaceful road?  

A silver lining is that Gold Coast features three public schools along its length and this type of bike facility will create safe routes to schools, SRTS. Imagine our children enjoying the ride to school, chatting and laughing with friends on a bike, scooter, skateboard, or whatever active mobility option they choose. After six years of leading 10-12 year olds to school, it was evident, and supported with research, that active transportation and physical activity has positive effects on the brain and on school performance.  Our younger folks are the leaders to break free from the car dependency that is choking our streets, polluting our air, and changing our climate and we must provide the opportunities to empower them. Many have experienced the independence and the fun of electric bicycles and we must embrace this healthy way to move in San Diego. Please help dedicate a safe space for them to ride and establish healthy lifestyles.

Shout out to the older folks like me. Try riding an e-bike to enjoy your community, improve your health, and reach your destination feeling refreshed and energized. E-bikes flatten hills, make it easier to carry heavy loads, and go longer distances while filling your body with exhilaration and life.  You not only can watch your grandchildren ride to school with their friends, maybe you will be lucky enough to join them.

If you have questions or are still unconvinced, please reach out and we can ride an e-bike together to discuss and experience the real dangers of sharrows and understand why more people don’t ride bikes in beautiful, climate kissed, San Diego.  As a car driver, I understand the frustrations of a slower bicycle rider impeding the way. Advisory bike lanes make mobility more efficient for all, as it becomes easier for drivers to navigate around cyclists, giving options to legally move along the road in synchronicity with cyclists and other drivers.  

Advisory lanes make our neighborhoods safer, quieter, and more enjoyable. I hope Mira Mesa and Point Loma folks will learn about them, be open to change, and support the city’s efforts to make our streets safer for all. 

Your Bike Friend.


Edge Lanes May Already Have the Desired Effect

Last Thursday [3/31/22], I encountered new lane markings on freshly resurfaced Evergreen St, part of my daily commute in Pt Loma. Surprised, I looked up details of the design now referred to as edge lanes, and started following news reports and associated discussion. Rather than a center stripe down the middle of the road to designate two way car traffic, they designate a center car lane with dashed bike lanes on either side. The idea is that cars travel down the middle of the road, and when approaching an oncoming vehicle, merge into the bike lane when safe to do so, or slow to fall behind a cyclist - a very similar maneuver to how cars regularly interact with me on Evergreen st.

One of the common fears voiced at community meetings or news interviews are of a head-on collision between cars. The roads generally selected for this treatment are residential, and carry a 25 mph speed limit. These are speeds chosen such that a driver has sufficient reaction time and braking distance if a child runs into the street, or a car blindly backs out of a driveway. If you were to encounter a car heading straight at you, what would be your reaction? Most likely to get out of the way, and/or slow towards zero mph. A collision between cars traveling at zero and 25 mph is not something anyone wants to experience, but thanks to decades of crash testing, a vehicle occupant would likely fare far better than the roughly 10% of pedestrians or cyclists that die when struck by a motor vehicle at 25 mph.

Does this fear reveal something we know about our residential roads but don’t explicitly mention? That people drive too fast and make it unsafe? We have a national epidemic, with pedestrian and bicyclist deaths rising approximately 40-50% over the last decade. Rather than ignore the underlying problem and hope that it will go away, or attempt to fix it through education or enforcement of speed limits, city engineers decided to try a new solution. They changed our perception of traffic flow using paint. Many people who are upset, in their calls to restore the previous road design, may miss the larger picture. Or if they don’t, perhaps they have different ideas on what could be done to address it. And this is where we should center our discussion - on how to best reduce motor vehicle speeds on our residential roads, and incidentally, roads like Gold Coast and Evergreen that service schools. 

It is clear that business as usual has not solved the problem, so we need to try something different. A review of edge lane roads in other communities in the US and in Australia, have concluded that this treatment reduced crashes by 44%. And this doesn’t include additional examples we can draw from Denmark, or The Netherlands, which developed their cycling culture through decades of policy decisions

As a cognitive scientist, I study perception, attention, and how we plan our actions. We smoothly navigate our environment by subconsciously predicting the future, hundreds of milliseconds at a time. We monitor how incoming sensory information matches our predictions, and adjust our movements as necessary, like an outfielder chasing a fly ball. It is startling and upsetting when we encounter a familiar scene that provides conflicting information: paint markings suggesting a one lane road where previously two lanes coexisted. This forces us to recalibrate our predictions and our driving behavior. Knowing we have to share space with other vehicles demands more attention. And humans are notorious for choosing to endure pain rather than perform a difficult mental task. But maybe a residential road demanding more attention is a good thing. 

So while the city pauses its rollout of the new street design, and we have time to learn about navigating edge lanes, let’s think about how we can make our streets safer for everyone, rather than rush to restore the previous street design. As I commented in the Mira Mesa Town Council meeting, if the changes lead to drivers slowing down, some of the desired effects may have already been achieved.

Georgia-Meade Bikeway

Some thoughts and next steps


The Georgia-Meade Bikeway is a 3.5 mile segment of the greater North Park | Mid-City Bikeways, which is a 13 mile network of bike corridors that connect the Mid-City neighborhoods north of Balboa Park to Downtown. Meade runs horizontally from Kensington in the east to University Heights in the west, at which point the bikeway extends south via Georgia into North Park.

Georgia-Meade Bikeway diagram from Go By BIKE


On the ground, Meade Avenue has been given a dramatic road diet, whereby roads have been narrowed to allow for Class II bike lanes. Though some might’ve preferred Class IV bikeways, the combination of Class II and punctuated traffic calming measures (roundabouts, raised crosswalks, and chokers) on this lower traffic volume road (compared to El Cajon Blvd., Madison Avenue, or Adams Avenue) should be sufficient. The improved road elements are meant to decrease the likelihood of a head on collision, reduce traffic speeds, and make active transportation both on and off the road a more comfortable experience.

Meade Avenue 2018
Meade Avenue 2022


The Mid-City neighborhood consists of over 130,000 residents spread out across some of the most densely populated communities in San Diego. On top of the population density, Mid-City also contains some of the most mixed-used communities in the city. This fusion of residential, commercial, and recreation makes Mid-City a great place to implement more pedestrian/bicycle oriented design. The Meade-Georgia Bikeway, allows residents from the more residential neighborhoods of east Mid-City to easily access the business districts scattered across the western portion (e.g. North Park via 30th Street, Adams via 35th, Normal Heights via 33rd, University Heights via Park Blvd., and the entire strip of businesses along the parallel boulevard, El Cajon).

Mid-City community zoning map - Yellow: Single-Family Residential, Brown: Multi-Family Residential, Orange/Pink: Commercial, Green: Parks

By inducing greater demand across this east-west corridor, the Mid-City community can reduce vehicular traffic through these denser, pre-war neighborhoods. Most significantly, this greatly decreases the probability of vehicle-pedestrian collisions. Other potential benefits include reduced traffic congestion for those that absolutely must drive and decrease demand for parking in the various business districts (a popular point of contention when discussing non-car infrastructure). Some potential long term benefits are an improvement in air quality for residents living on or near the corridor, improved transit efficiency, and longer pavement lifecycles.

Though the city has not implemented any bike counters on this route, preliminary heatmap data from both Strava and Ride With GPS show promising bicycling activity along the Meade-Georgia Bikeway.

Ride With GPS’s heat map of the Mid-City area
Strava’s heat map of the Mid-City area


I live in Kensington and use Meade almost every single day. Most mornings, I use it to get to the gym in University Heights. During the day, I use it to visit stores and businesses on 30th, Adams, or El Cajon to grab food and run errands. It’s even comfortable to ride along in the evening (if a little dark), on days where I’m coming back from seeing friends in Hillcrest, University Heights, or North Park. I love seeing fellow bicyclists ride past, residents walking their dogs, homeowners tending to their yard, and businesses opening up for the day as I commute between the small neighborhoods sprinkled across Mid-City.

The segment between Marlborough and Georgia is generally fine though there are a couple of things that can be improved.

  1. There are 10 roundabouts (or, traffic circles) scattered throughout Meade Avenue. Roundabouts are great: they slow down traffic, reduce head-on and side impact collision frequency and severity, and allow for decorative landscapes on what would otherwise be a patch of grey concrete. However, the striping pattern upon entry can lead to some confusion. In the picture below, you’ll notice that the bike lane abruptly ends and forces a quick merge into the sharrow right before entering the roundabout. Generally, this maneuver can be done thoughtlessly, thanks to the relatively low volume of traffic present at any time. Nonetheless, I think more clear striping would go a long way in making Meade Avenue truly for all ages and abilities.Other cities have solved this problem by using colored (usually green) pavement and way-finding signals. In the case of the above roundabout entrance, I’d like to see the bike path curve into the traffic lane using green (or red, to follow the Dutch) paint and clearer way-finding.Here are a couple of examples from Austin and Salt Lake City(below) has done a great job of demarcating bike paths through wide intersections and sudden chokepoints.Austin, TX uses white stripes and sharrow markings to demarcate the recommended travel path for bicyclists across a wide intersection ( abrupt choke point in Salt Lake City, UT is clearly demarcated with a green lane and sharrow markings (
  2. Meade Avenue intersects with 30th Avenue, another bikeway that was recently opened. Despite both of these individual bikeways being terrific places to ride, the junction between them feels more like an afterthought. In the picture below, I’m facing west on Meade with the intent of turning left onto 30th. To do so, I need to wait at this intersection, yield to oncoming traffic (because this is an unprotected left turn), and then turn through the intersection. Again, not a deal breaker, but an element that can certainly be improved upon, especially if we’re wanting to encourage people of all ages and abilities. The typical strategy here would be to add a bike box to the right side of the intersection on 30th, so a bicyclist would position herself there when Meade Avenue is green and then continue south when 30th turns green. I think that requires too much waiting for what isn’t a terribly busy intersection. A more simple change would be to allow for a leading left turn signal which would benefit both left-turning bicyclists and vehicles. Obviously, the pedestrian crosswalk signal would defer to left turning vehicles.

These issues are not specific to the Georgia-Meade bikeway - similar bicycle connectivity issues can be found throughout San Diego (in that interactive map, a lot of the blue and green lanes are extremely uncomfortable for bicyclists, e.g. El Cajon Blvd ).

Indeed, many of the existing bikeways may be great for commuting but fall short when trip chaining ( journeys that consist of numerous shorter trips) is required. As a remnant of mid-century modern urban planning, many bicycle corridors are focused on commuters, that is, getting riders from point A to point B, while not providing the necessary connectivity to comfortably access everything in between.

Next steps

San Diego’s bicycling network and culture are in its early stages: in 2018 the city was awarded Bronze status by The League of American Bicyclists, with one of the recommendations to achieve Silver status being:

Continue to expand the bike network and increase connectivity through the use of different types of bicycle facilities appropriate for the speed and volume of motor vehicle traffic on each road

It is encouraging that our current mayor, city council, and regional government (SANDAG) continue to push for more robust bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. In the 2021 Regional Plan, there are dozens of projects dedicated to Active Transportation, one of the main categories of focus (Appendix A: Transportation Projects, Programs, and Phasing, Page 6), with $292 million allocated to regional bikeway projects. San Diego City is allocating $28.1 million towards their Vision Zero initiative, including $11.9 million for bicycle facilities (Adopted Budget Fiscal Year 2022, Volume 1: City Budget Overview, Page 19).

In fact, the city recently announced that Park Boulevard would receive protected bike lanes between Adams Avenue and University Avenue. This is a great extension of the existing east-west bikeways (including Georgia-Meade) that cut through Mid-City, allowing easy access to the many businesses and residences that line Park Blvd.

The next step is ensuring that the Park Blvd. improvements are expanded into and through Balboa Park. This would provide a safe path from Mid-City via Uptown into Downtown on a route where we are already seeing a large volume of bicycle activity (Strava heatmap and Ride With GPS heatmap). We would like to see this corridor upgraded to a Class IV bikeway. This would go a long way in encouraging an increase in bicycle trips between two significant commercial and residential cores, including numerous educational and cultural institutions along the corridor. If you would like to help push this forward, please visit the campaign page on and write to the city!

Advisory Lanes

Advisory Lanes in San Diego

“It is a whole new way for drivers and cyclists to share the road.” City of Ottawa

I first experienced Advisory Lanes in Holland in 2014 on a bike barge trip with my family. This was a new type of bike facility to me and I liked them.  Below is a photo from the trip that shows a great visual of an advisory lane In Holland.  I especially appreciate the different colors of asphalt that are used to differentiate space for different types of users.  As one can see, space is dedicated to a safe pathway for people on bikes and other rolling devices. Check out this one minute video to quickly learn how Advisory Bike Lanes work for cyclists and drivers. We do believe it is an intuitive street design treatment that drivers and cyclists will learn to use quickly.

As a long time advocate, I was thrilled to hear that our City is recommending and implementing the use of Advisory Lanes in San Diego. In May, City staff, Everett Hauser, provided a brief introduction to the Mobility Board for the use of Advisory Lanes on Hancock Avenue.  I personally believe it will be an improvement for all and is a great compromise for businesses, parking, and active commuters along this corridor with limited street space.  

In June, Everett updated the Mobility Board with criteria being used for evaluating future streets for Advisory Lanes.  Below is the table presented.  It shows Advisory Lanes will be evaluated for narrow streets with limited space, low volume traffic and low volume speeds.  It was clarified that streets with parked cars will be considered, as straight-in parking is being proposed for Hancock.  As noted, this type of treatment will be used on streets designated in the Bicycle Master Plan that will be resurfaced with slurry seal or overlay treatment.  Check out to view upcoming street resurfacing projects. 

If you have ideas or suggestions that you think advisory lanes would be a good fit in your neighborhood, please feel free to share with BikeSD to gain support and help advocate for innovative paint treatments that prioritize safe pathways for people on bikes. If you’re a fan like I am, please send Mayor Todd Gloria an email. Send gratitude and encourage more.

If you like to ride, we recommend to do so often. 😊