Letter Sent to the Mayor to Support a Safe Bicycle Facility on Washington Street

Dear Mayor Kevin Faulconer & City Staff,

We request the City of San Diego immediately address the public safety hazard on eastbound Washington Street (east of India Street) by returning the Class II bicycle facility to the breakdown lane on the south side of the road. The bike lane symbols formerly in this location were painted over without City permission, to add free street parking. As a result, a 66-year old bicyclist riding eastbound on Washington on August 21st, 2020 was struck by a car and critically injured and the driver fled the scene.

This segment of Washington was identified by the City as a “High Priority Bicycle Project” in the 2013 Bicycle Master Plan, and is a designated City bike route. SANDAG also identified the Washington Street Bikeway in its 2012 Early Action Plan, but opposition to the Bikeway from local business districts necessitated costly studies and additions to the project, delaying Bikeway construction until 2022.

The current Class III painted “sharrows” in the second eastbound travel lane are not recommended by the State of California for speed limits above 35 MPH. However the posted speed limit is 45 MPH, and a speed study of the corridor showed traffic speeds averaging 55 MPH or more, with some motorists even exceeding 70 MPH. The City is forcing bicyclists into dangerous, high-speed traffic on a steep incline. Further, the City is not notifying motorists that the road contains a bike lane, as the signage that was posted on the hillside has been removed, and the street cycling symbol on the road has been painted over. Washington Street is the main connector to the Washington Street Trolley Station for residents of Mission Hills, Hillcrest and Bankers Hill. The City of San Diego’s requirement to reduce vehicle miles travelled, and its Climate Action Plan and Vision Zero goals are further reasons to address this corridor’s safety hazards, where six bicyclists have been hit since 2012.

We ask that the City prioritize residents’ lives and well-being over a dozen free parking spaces. Please restore the Washington Street bike lane until the completion of the SANDAG Washington Street Bikeway in this area.