First Look at Nathan Fletcher’s Bike Plan Policy

Mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher sent in a copy of his bike plan policy that he released this morning. This comprehensive implementation plan is exactly the kind of forward-thinking vision cyclists all over San Diego have long been waiting for. None of the other mayoral candidates have been forthcoming with a clear vision on how they intend to implement San Diego’s Master Bicycle Plan by creating, improving and enhancing the city’s bicycle infrastructure to elevate bicycling as a feasible mode of transportation for all San Diegans.

Nathan Fletcher announcing his bike plan policy. Photo by Randy Van Vleck

As Mia Birk stated last December, the key to having a truly bike friendly city requires three ingredients,
1. A strong staff at the city level that is committed to making bicycling in San Diego better
2. The political will.
3. A strong advocacy front willing to support the government in its efforts.

San Diego has a strong core of bike advocates and, since late last year, strong staff at the city level. What San Diego is missing right now is the political will and Fletcher recognizes that missing component stating that what San Diego’s Bicycle Master Plan “doesn’t include is a plan of action or commitment from city leaders to find and allocate the resources we need to move the plan forward.”

To start, Fletcher recognizes that San Diego isn’t reaching its full potential to be one of the world’s greatest bike friendly cities.

As an avid cyclist, I want to see San Diego embrace the full potential it has to be one of the world’s great bike-friendly cities. That vision includes making biking safer, providing more recreational cycling opportunities and completing our cycling infrastructure so people can move around their neighborhoods as easily on a bike as they can in a car.

He then goes on to make the case on how bicycling can help our local economy by generating tourism dollars and supporting businesses.

Other cities have shown investing in bike infrastructure pays off. In 2008, Portland saw $90 million in bicycle-related economic activity, from retail, manufacturing, professional services and organized rides, an increase in value of 38 percent from 2006, reflecting the increase in bicycling, resulting in part from the city’s expanding network of bicycling facilities.

What are Fletcher’s goals for making San Diego one of the world’s best bicycling cities? He has a list of proven good ideas where he raised the bar, set in the bike plan, by ensuring we meet the goals earlier rather than later:
1. Increasing the bicycling mode share which would result in reducing the air pollution and meet California’s greenhouse gas emission targets.
2. Reducing the number of bicyclist collisions
3. Adopting best practices such as the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide. This would bring in some of the world’s best bike infrastructure design that has shown to work effectively. Since AB 819 was watered down this would enable San Diego to take a lead and use the guide to become one of the world’s most bicycle friendly cities.
4. Ensuring that all of the city’s 40 community plans are updated and reflect the current wishes of the individual community residents.
5. Implementing the Complete Streets Act.
6. Partnering with law enforcement to expand the bicycle patrol division, educating the public on the traffic laws and issues revolving around sharing road space where there are no bicycle facilities.
7. Implementing a bicycle share program. This has been called a “game-changer” in increasing the bicycle mode share in other cities around the world.
8. Using sharrows and other innovative lane markings such as colored bike lanes.
9. Implementing a “Promenade for a Day” program. In other words, a Ciclovia: a temporary closure of streets that bring neighborhoods together and something that San Diego should have had for many years.
10. Creating a Mayor’s Cycling Task Force comprised of senior members of the mayor’s administration and the members in the cycling community. The purpose of the Cycling Task Force will be to oversee the mayor’s “efforts to identify and apply for federal and state funding opportunities.”
11. Measuring the results from implementing the above programs.
12. Publishing a Regional Bike Map and a Mobile Application to outline existing bike paths, trails and routes as well as “information related to bike infrastructure such as bike share programs, lockers and other amenities.”

This plan is an excellent start. Adopting the best practices detailed in the NACTO Urban Bikeway Guide will go a long way to implementing some of the bicycle facilities that have shown to work very effectively in the most bike friendly cities. A bike share program made a significant dent in increasing the bicycle mode share in Barcelona – a city that San Diego has a lot in common with. There has been a group of San Diegans who have been running into repeated roadblocks in their attempt to implement a Ciclovia here in San Diego, a problem that could be easily solved with a little push from the mayor’s office. Leadership from the mayor’s office to push us to the next level is exactly what San Diegans have been waiting for all along. And Fletcher has proven that he supports bicyclist in his tenure to date at the California Assembly where Fletcher has voted to improve things for bicyclists by voting in favor of AB 819 and voting to support the three foot passing bill last year, until it got vetoed by Governor Brown.

A bike plan policy means nothing without understanding the psychology of riding. As an avid cyclist and pedestrian (when in Sacramento), Fletcher intuitively grasps the challenges that the non-motorized contingent around the city face on a daily basis. If there is any one complaint I have about Fletcher’s bike plan it would be that he doesn’t envision San Diego being the world’s most bike friendly city. But I can settle for being one of the world’s most bike friendly cities, for the time being. And I’m willing to give Fletcher a shot as mayor to see if he can be the political will at City Hall we’ve all been waiting for. I hope you will consider doing the same.