This Year San Diego Added 39.1 Miles of Buffered Bike Lanes

Bankers Hill Resident Enjoys Riding on San Diego's Buffered Bike Lanes. Photo: Adrian Granda
Bankers Hill Resident Enjoys Riding on San Diego’s Buffered Bike Lanes. Photo: Adrian Granda

The city’s current fiscal year ends this month, and I was curious about what our newly beefed up city Transportation Department has been doing during the past year. Implementing buffered bike lanes has been part of the city’s efforts to implement bike infrastructure alongside the city’s repaving efforts – coordinating work instead of having to do road work twice.

Donald Pornan, who works at the city’s Transportation and Storm Water Department, said that his department oversaw the implementation of 39.1 miles buffered bike lanes, which includes both directions of travel.

What is a buffered bike lane?

The National Association of Transportation Officials (NACTO), of which San Diego is a member city, describes buffered bike lanes as follows:

Buffered bike lanes are conventional bicycle lanes paired with a designated buffer space separating the bicycle lane from the adjacent motor vehicle travel lane and/or parking lane

Buffered bike lanes were implemented all over the city as listed below:

Buffered Bike Lanes implemented in one year
Buffered Bike Lanes implemented in one year in the city of San Diego

4th and 5th Avenue
Aero Drive
Balboa Avenue
Lake Murray Boulevard
Genesee Avenue
Mira Mesa Boulevard
Morena Boulevard
Kearny Villa Road
Linda Vista Road
Camino Del Norte
Pacific Highway
Navajo Road
Texas Street
Friars Road
Coronado Avenue
Nimitz Boulevard
Pomerado Road

Per NACTO’s guidelines, buffered bike lanes provide benefits which include

  • Provides greater shy distance between motor vehicles and bicyclists.
  • Provides space for bicyclists to pass another bicyclist without encroaching into the adjacent motor vehicle travel lane.
  • Encourages bicyclists to ride outside of the door zone when buffer is between parked cars and bike lane.
  • Provides a greater space for bicycling without making the bike lane appear so wide that it might be mistaken for a travel lane or a parking lane.
  • Appeals to a wider cross-section of bicycle users.
  • Encourages bicycling by contributing to the perception of safety among users of the bicycle network.

It’s great the city is upgrading the sort of bike infrastructure they implement in the city and moving beyond the standard, boring (and often unpleasant to ride in) striped bike lanes.

There is still so much work to be done: taming driver speeds on city streets, and redesigning those many many freeway interchanges that pits fast moving vehicles against slower moving traffic like pedestrians and riders. But it is nice to see the city move forward (even if at a snail’s pace) in making bicycling conditions much more pleasant than it used to be.

Update: via Facebook our supporters had the following comments to add to the discussion:

Jonathan Knight said, “Buffered Bike Lanes are nice but Cycle Tracks are much better. San Diego would be well served by installing as many Cycle Tracks as feasible in the most expeditious manner possible.

Darren Whitaker and Shane Cook wanted buffered bike lanes on all city streets and Gabriel Marocco recommended that the city add 100 miles of buffered bike lanes for the next year’s goals.

Michell had this insightful comment, “I’d be content with another 40[miles of buffered bike lanes], but they have got to go all the way through rather than suddenly disappearing at dangerous spots like the one on eastbound N Harbor Dr does.