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Bicycling and the Citizens of San Diego

According to this article in San Diego Magazine, the image of bicycling is changing in San Diego. Once thought to be the domain of athletes and hobbyists, bicycling is quickly becoming an important way for the average citizen to commute and run short errands in the urban community.

But the San Diego community lacks the infrastructure to support the growing number of bicyclists. Although the city has done what it can to put bike lanes in where it is convenient and cost-effective, the city has yet to follow through on any plans that involve the removal of parking or car lanes. Although costly, this sort sort of investment is, many argue, necessary.

As a result of this lack of infrastructure (designated lanes, separate paths, and easy routes through residential areas) many of the city's bicyclists are put into dangerously close contact with high-speed traffic, and are often frightened off their bicycles.

But bicycling is good news for everyone: it can not only save a city millions in healthcare costs, but can also encourage local shopping and less likelihood of expensive lawsuits from dangerous bike routes.

Despite the potential benefits of becoming more bike friendly, though, the businesses of San Diego have mixed feelings about bicycle infrastructure. Some communities are against it, saying that it will decrease the desperately-needed parking for their business. Others have been trying to get bike-parking approved for years, only to find the approval process stalled out, knee deep in bureaucracy.

San Diego will have to make up its mind sooner or later, though. Cities all over the United States are making significant financial and political investments in bicycling, and many believe that San Diego's failure to do the same will result in massive costs dow the road.

Essentially, says Kathy Keehan, the Bicycle Coalition's departing executive director, "we have beautiful plans on the books" but "don't have the political will to get them done."

What a shame.