Group hopes to create safe bike/car culture for La Jolla


By Ashley Mackin

When it comes to biking in La Jolla, it is both the journey and the destination. The destination is why bike share supporters think La Jolla is a desirable community to install newly approved bike share stations, and the journey is what determined the current amount of bike lanes and paths in La Jolla.

On July 9, by a unanimous city council vote, San Diego entered into a corporate agreement with DecoBike, a bike-sharing program that would bring self-serving bike- share kiosks to La Jolla and the entire city of San Diego in early 2014. DecoBike is accepting suggestions from the community as to where these kiosks should go, and hopes to have a final map established by Friday, Nov. 1.

Those locations will be decided based on certain logistical criteria (see information below), as well as public input. Those wanting to contribute suggestions can do so at

Early feedback to La Jolla Light included some concerns. In a letter published in the

Aug. 1

issue, Leslie Ziegenhorn named some worries. “Many of the sightseers are very distracted and poor navigators as they are trying to figure out where they are going and how to get there. Along the coast they are, understandably, often looking at the beautiful scenery and further diverted from paying attention to the road,” she wrote. “I’m concerned that adding more traffic, in the form of multiple tourist bike riders, is actually setting someone up to get seriously hurt.”

In 2012, nearly 20 cyclists reported injuries to the San Diego Police Department. SDPD Media Relations Officer Kevin Mayer said, “There were 23 collisions involving at least one bicycle in La Jolla during 2012. These collisions involved 19 injuries and zero fatalities.”

The only actual bike lanes in La Jolla are in Bird Rock, along Soledad Mountain Road and Torrey Pines Road. The length of La Jolla Boulevard and Prospect Street are a “suggested bike route,” meaning there is no official bikeway, but it’s safe for bicyclists. Similarly, Coast Boulevard and Neptune Place are considered a bike route, with shared right-of-way designated by signs.

However, SANDAG Active Transportation Program Manager Chris Kluth argues there are safe ways to share the road with the current bike facilities, and an area like La Jolla would be great for a bike share program, with long-term benefits.

Because La Jolla is a landmass with lots of places to go, biking is considered a journey. As such, SANDAG considers The Jewel a good place to ride bikes. Kluth said in the Village, the streets are generally quieter and people don’t drive that fast, so motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians can share the road in a reasonable way.

“The more people — and studies have shown in all kinds of places — you have riding bikes, the safety for the entire group goes up,” he said. “It raises people’s awareness, so it’s not like ‘oh geez, that was a bike.’ (The drivers) see them more frequently and drivers get used to dealing with other road users.” La Jolla bicyclist Ed Clancy, a DecoBike supporter, sees an additional benefit. “The great thing about bike share is we are getting people used to alternative transportation, so that lowers the number of cars,” he said.

The number and placement of bike facilities is determined by the City of San Diego Master Bike Plan. To add or change those facilities, the city would have to work with the community and determine whether a proposed location could potentially fit a bike lane.

Kluth said that often means looking at lanes with enough width, removing a passing lane or removing parking on that street. It is unknown, given that the program is new to San Diego, whether bike sharing would fit into traditional city planning.

But there are alternatives to changing the current facilities. In some areas, a “sharrow” has been painted into the street, which tells drivers to expect to see bicyclists because it’s an area that has been identified as a good connection or a destination, and that cyclists can safely ride there, Kluth said.

Clancy also suggests a “green bike lane,” which is simply a portion of the street painted green.

“Green bikes lanes are great because if the cyclists are not there, it signals that there may be cyclists on the road,” he said. “People driving would be more intuitive to the fact that if they see a green lane to know there might be a cyclist.”

Saying that he thinks La Jolla is a good place for bicyclists, Clancy added, “I think a lot more can be done and I have faith that it will be done to have a safe car-and-bike-culture.”

Criteria for DecoBike locations:

■ Regional connectivity for an overall network of bike sharing stations to serve as an alternative mode of public transportation

■ Geographic relation to community amenities (such as parks and beaches)

■ Geographic relation to other types of transportation hubs (bus stops or car-sharing ports); bike sharing serves as a first-mile and last-mile commuter solution

■ Geographic relation to commercial attractions (shopping/retail, food and beverage establishments, and hotels)

■ Geographic relation to residential densities (condominiums, apartments)