2016 Election: Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s Vision to Improve Bicycling in San Diego

Our board sent a list of questions to Mayor Kevin Faulconer, and mayoral candidates Ed Harris and Lori Saldaña who are running to be the Mayor of the city of San Diego. We will be posting their responses here. Below is Mayor Faulconer‘s responses to our questions.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer. Image via his Facebook page.

1. Thanks to your support, San Diego is now a Vision Zero city and we are well on our way to fully implementing our city’s Master Bicycle Plan, yet we still aren’t a world – class city for bicycling – an activity that has multiplier effects on our economic, societal health and social cohesiveness. One of the biggest barriers to safe cycling and walking are the high speed differentials on our city streets. Recently, Cities, including Boston and New York City have lowered the city speed limits.  Would you be willing to sponsor and support state legislation to allow for speed limits on city streets to be less than 25 mph?


Creating a safe, inviting, viable environment for bicyclists is key to implementing the City’s Climate Action Plan and Bike Master Plan. To achieve the Climate Action Plan’s bike mode share goals, I will evaluate and consider proposals to make biking safer, including allowing speeds of less than 25 miles per hour on some local streets.

However, I am not waiting for state legislation to calm traffic and increase bike safety. As a cyclist, I know first hand that large speed differentials can make our streets feel unsafe for riders. Under my direction, the City is actively working on many vehicle speed reduction measures to help increase safety for bicyclists. Examples include lane diets/road diets, raised intersections/crosswalks, high visibility crosswalks, and upgraded traffic control devices and signage such as vehicle speed feedback signs.

For instance, in November 2014 I directed the City’s transportation department to implement road diets and buffered bike lanes on Fourth and Fifth Avenues north of Laurel Street. In February 2015 I created a citywide policy of installing high-visibility continental crosswalks at all signalized intersections. In fiscal year 2015 I proposed and programmed $1.5 million for citywide traffic calming measures. I am committed to expanding on these traffic calming initiatives during my second term, and would be happy to meet with BikeSD to learn more about state legislation which could further assist our City efforts.

2. San Diego is a large and geographically diverse city. Another barrier to safe walking and cycling are the last mile gaps – the missing safe connectivity to bike and transit infrastructure. Land use decisions cause the last mile of trips to intersect with uninviting high speed roads for transit users and bicyclists. How will you work to ensure that Caltrans and SANDAG to invest the funds necessary to minimize and eliminate these last mile gaps as the designated representative on SANDAG board?

I am committed to increasing multi-modal transportation connectivity and closing first mile/last mile gaps that stand in the way of greater adoption of bicycle and mass transit use. I look forward to continuing to work together with transportation agencies such as SANDAG, Caltrans and MTS to implement connectivity programs. I am taking a lead role on this issue at our partner agencies, not just as a City representative but also by maintaining close cooperation with agency leadership and staff to secure funding and implement projects.

For example, I added a land use component to the Climate Action Plan and then directed my senior staff to meet with SANDAG to determine how transportation modeling could be better utilized in community plan updates. Also, under my policy guidance, City staff coordinated with SANDAG to expand the car share pilot program to add additional providers and broaden the geographic reach, which assists with closing the last mile gap. Additionally, my staff works closely with SANDAG senior staff on state and federal legislative priorities which helps with securing funding for San Diego multi-modal connectivity projects.

In my first two years in office I have engaged in many other initiatives that have directly or indirectly helped to close the first mile/last mile gap, including the following:

  • Coordinated bike and pedestrian infrastructure projects to coincide with street resurfacing and overlay projects, to more effectively implement the Bicycle Master Plan and Vision Zero
  • Advocated for City Council adoption of the Vision Zero goals and led a Vision Zero Task Force to improve cross-departmental and external stakeholder coordination
  • Directed City staff to incorporate Complete Streets and Vision Zero policies into the Street Design Manual, which is currently undergoing a comprehensive update
  • Proposed funding for a Transportation Master Plan in my fiscal year 2017 budget to cohesively plan all modes of transportation in one document
  • Created a new Assistant Director of Transportation position to better integrate the City’s transportation planning across department divisions
  • Added a Sustainability Manager and proposed in my fiscal year 2017 budget another supporting position to implement the City’s Climate Action Plan and its mode-share goals
  • Completed a Traffic Signal Communications Master Plan to enable new technology that detects bikes and counts cyclists
  • Installed color bike lanes in high mode conflict areas and areas where guidance to bicyclists is helpful
  • Created an open data online resource with a Capital Improvement Project Map viewer so the public can track infrastructure projects and street resurfacing projects
  • Added new funding in my fiscal year 2017 proposed budget to implement the highest priority bicycle projects as recommended by the Bicycle Advisory Committee’s draft Strategic Implementation Plan

If elected, the following initiatives are part of my second term agenda:

  • Implementing the Bike Advisory Committee’s six highest priority projects from the draft Strategic Implementation Plan
  • Completing my pledge to repair 1,000 miles of streets and filling in gaps of resurfacing efforts so the City has a coherent and comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian network
  • Implementing Vision Zero with a focus on the “three E’s”: Education, Engineering, and Enforcement
  • Completing the entire separated bike facility network in the Downtown Mobility Plan
  • Training City staff on Complete Streets and Vision Zero planning and design
  • Accelerating community plan updates so that their mobility elements reflect best practices in multi-modal transportation and are consistent with recent planning documents such as the Climate Action Plan and Bike Master Plan
  • Updating the City’s California Environmental Quality Act transportation thresholds of significance consistent with Senate Bill 743 to reduce vehicle miles traveled and sprawl (following the direction I already gave to City staff to expedite this task)
  • Annual monitoring of the Climate Action Plan to ensure achievement of the plan’s targets
  • Revising Council Policy 800-14 regarding Capital Improvement Project Prioritization to incorporate Climate Action Plan transit priority areas and environmental justice considerations such as CalEnviroScreen
  • Increasing mobility and economic opportunities for working families who cannot afford auto mobile ownership
  • Funding 80 cameras in transit priority areas to gather improved bicycle commute data, building off of the 17 cameras I included in my prior budget proposals

In addition, when stakeholder groups such as BikeSD have additional proposals or think existing programs are not functioning properly, I’m willing to work together and take a hard look to determine how the City can better achieve our mobility goals

3. Too often, our local schools prioritize vehicle drop offs rather than encouraging school children to ride, walk or skateboard to school. How do you intend to encourage more kids to get to school by foot, on a bicycle or other non-automobile means as mayor?

An important component of a healthy, livable community is neighborhood infrastructure that encourages children to safely walk or bike to school. This contributes to improved public health, brings neighborhoods together, reduces vehicle miles traveled and pollution, and instills active transportation habits in children that can last a lifetime. As Mayor, I will continue to pursue initiatives which encourage more children to walk or bike to school.

Infrastructure is the foundation of a safe network of pedestrian and bike facilities so children can walk or ride to school, which is one reason why I am upgrading our pedestrian and bike infrastructure in tandem with my infrastructure initiatives. I directed 50 percent of all General Fund major revenue growth toward infrastructure, streets and sidewalks–resulting in an additional $63 million for our neighborhoods since taking office–and I doubled the miles of roads repaired annually to more than 300 to further my goal of fixing 1,000 miles of streets over five years. As this occurs, I am ensuring that the right-of-way is repurposed for bikes and pedestrians, not just autos.

For example, before starting my 1,000 miles of repair initiative I created a citywide policy and added funding to install high visibility continental crosswalks at all signalized intersections. This ensured that as each road is resurfaced or slurry sealed, crosswalks are upgraded and automobile limit lines are pushed back, which makes it safer for children to cross the street. For unsignalized intersections, I updated Council Policy 200-7 to make it easier to install crosswalks there and I am accelerating installation of rectangular rapid flashing beacons to further create safe routes to school at unmarked crossings.
Also important to providing a safe route to school is bike infrastructure. I implemented procedures and additional active transportation staff to review resurfacing projects for Bike Master Plan consistency to take full advantage of the additional investments I directed toward infrastructure. Due to this delivery method, over the last two years the City has already undergone dramatic change in its bike infrastructure and I will continue this accelerating improvement over the next four years. I am also collaborating with SANDAG to secure additional grant funding for safe routes to school projects in furtherance of the Safe Routes to School Strategic Plan.

In addition to these short-to medium-term initiatives, I am working on long-term planning programs to make our city smarter and more livable, which will make it easier for children to walk and bike to school. For example, I have updated four community plans since taking office, ten are currently in process, and I recently added two more to the Planning Department’s two-year work plan. In contrast, just two community plans were updated in the previous ten years before I took office. As these community plans are updated, their mobility elements are also refreshed to reflect multi-modal planning principles and be consistent with recent initiatives such as the Climate Action Plan and Bike Master Plan. Ultimately, this effort will result in more residents living within biking and walking distance to schools.

I am also focused on public safety enhancements, which are key to providing parents the level of comfort needed to allow their children to walk or bike to school. For example, I negotiated a five-year agreement with police to address recruitment and retention challenges and fully-funded four police academies, increasing the class size of each by over 20 percent. I also improved emergency response times, with a major focus on underserved communities. My public safety initiatives also include enforcement of equal right to use roadways and of traffic violations by both bicyclists and motorists, and additional efforts to reduce bike thefts.

4. As mayor you will be responsible for appointing the second city representative to the SANDAG board. This appointment will influence whether the city meets goals of the Climate Action Plan, Bicycle Master Plan, and the state policy SB 743. What qualifications will this individual have that would make them the ideal candidate to vote on planning and transportation decisions?
I will work together with the City Council to ensure that the City is well represented on the SANDAG board by someone who will be a strong voice for all modes of transportation and will advocate for additional funding and full implementation of the City’s policy documents such as the Climate Action Plan, Bike Master Plan, and General Plan City of Villages Strategy. Also important is that the representative share my beliefs that infrastructure is a top priority, and that active transportation projects promote healthy living, reduce pollution, and bring neighborhoods together.

5. San Diego’s parking districts encompass some of San Diego’s densest communities that include Downtown, La Jolla, Mid-City, Old Town, Pacific Beach, and Uptown. Do you believe curbside parking rates in San Diego’s parking districts are at, above or below market rates (i.e., rates high enough so that supply and demand are near equilibrium)? Do you believe curbside parking space should be made available at market rates, or at below-market, subsidized rates? What changes do you believe are needed in the city’s current curbside parking rates and policies?

I have engaged in several changes to the City’s parking policies which support active transportation, such as:

  • Commissioned a study on the City’s parking operations to develop a cohesive approach to an issue that has been dispersed across multiple City agencies and external organizations
  • Proposed funding in my fiscal year 2017 budget to improve how the City manages parking, including a review of the pricing system and consideration of a new organizational structure that integrates parking management with the City’s other policy objectives such as increasing multi-modal mobility and protecting the environment
  • Revised Council Policy 100-18 relating to Community Parking Districts to allow increased utilization of parking meter funds for active transportation improvements
  • Created a parklet policy and streamlined permitting process to incentivize the best utilization and increased livability of the City’s right-of-way and parking areas
  • Implemented the City’s first bike share program with many stations replacing parking in the right-of-way
  • Proposing a Transportation Management Plan which will cohesively look at all of the City’s transportation policies and assets, including parking
  • Directed the City’s Transportation & Stormwater Department to update its Street Design Manual to bring it into conformance with Complete Streets and Livable Streets policies

In my second term, I look forward to continuing to improve the City’s parking management and review pricing models to best achieve our multi-modal transportation goals.

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