Uptown Bikeways - Frequently Asked Questions

What is a bikeway?

Bikeways feature design elements that enhance the biking experience, and benefit all street users, residents, and neighborhood businesses. Some bikeways on urban streets are called “separated bikeways”, where people traveling on bikes are separated from traffic lanes by raised medians, planters, parked cars, or bollards. Some bikeways are called “bike boulevards,” which use traffic calming design treatments to make a street more comfortable for people on bikes. Where possible, the Uptown Bikeways project aims to provide separated bikeways.

What is the Uptown Bikeways Project?

The Uptown Bikeways will enhance neighborhood connectivity between Uptown, Old Town, Mission Valley, Downtown San Diego, North Park, and Balboa Park; promote active living and healthy communities; and make streets safer for people who bike, walk, drive, and take transit. The project will create inviting and convenient bikeways that link key community destinations, including schools, parks, transit, and commercial centers. The Uptown Bikeways include the following segments for final design and construction:

View a map of the project alignments.

Why is SANDAG undertaking the project?

The Uptown Bikeways will help fulfill the vision laid out in the San Diego Regional Bike Plan to make riding a bike a safer and more viable form of transportation for everyday travel. The project is also a high-priority project in the Regional Bike Plan Early Action Program (EAP), which was approved by the SANDAG Board of Directors in September 2013 and includes $200 million to implement the Regional Bike Plan EAP over a ten year period.  

Project Benefits: What are the benefits of the project?

The Uptown Bikeways will have several benefits:

  • Vibrant, safe, and inviting streets that improve neighborhood connectivity and link to the regional bike network
  • An enhanced experience for people biking and walking through modern street designs and amenities
  • Riding a bike will be an easier, more convenient, and safer choice for everyday trips
  • Improved safety for everybody, whether biking, walking, or driving
  • Strengthened economic development opportunities through infrastructure investments that enhance the streetscape, access to business districts, and community attractiveness

What are the project goals?

The following goals were established with the Uptown Bikeways project’s Community Advisory Group, which represent a broad range of Uptown community leaders and stakeholders:

  • Mobility: increase travel choices, connect communities
  • Experience: improve travel safety for everyone, create an exceptional biking experience
  • Community: build on and support related community initiatives
  • Placemaking: enhance community identity and public spaces
  • Economic Development: improve public infrastructure and strengthen opportunities for community and business development

Who will use the bikeways?

Overall, the Uptown Bikeways were designed to meet the needs of the broadest range of people in the Uptown area who are interested in biking for everyday trips. Investment in the regional bike network is based on proximity to population and land uses. The Regional Bike Plan identified significant unmet demand for daily bike trips in Uptown and other urban areas. About half of the trips in the region are three miles or less and 20 percent of trips are one mile or less; these distances are ideal for riding a bike. 

Research indicates that a significant number of people are “interested but concerned” about riding their bikes for daily trips. There is a strong positive correlation between the number of people who bike and the availability of safe connected bikeways, such as those being planned for the Uptown Bikeways. This is especially true for women, senior citizens, and people who do not have much experience riding bikes. Current ridership is low due to high risks involved with riding under current street conditions. Upwards of 60 percent of the population served by safe connected bikeways are expected to begin to ride and ride more often. Improving safety on streets is essential to increasing biking as a viable transportation choice. 

How are the needs of all users balanced? 

The project aims to meet the needs of as many people as possible. Street improvements will be designed to allow for the safe movement of people walking, biking, riding transit, and driving -- with particular attention paid to the needs of people walking and biking. This can be achieved by calming traffic, creating safer crossings for people walking, and increasing connectivity to neighborhoods and businesses. 

Funding: How is the project funded and are there opportunities to enhance project aesthetics?

The Uptown Bikeways project’s improvements are funded by the local transportation sales tax program, TransNet. SANDAG is committed to building the project under the Regional Bike Plan Early Action Program to accomplish project goals such as providing new transportation choices, promoting active living and healthy communities, and creating new, safe walking and biking connections to local neighborhoods and businesses. SANDAG collaborates with local communities to gather feedback on design features and project aesthetics.

If community organizations would like to enhance project design features or aesthetics, funding for those features would need to be identified beyond the current project budget. Additionally, SANDAG can include landscaping as a project feature if community organizations agree to identify funding and take responsibility for ongoing maintenance. 

Where is the project in terms of the design process?

After several years of planning, community outreach, and project refinement, the SANDAG Board of Directors approved the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) exemption for Segments 1-4 of the Uptown Bikeways project on July 22, 2016. Segments 1-4 of the project have been phased for final design and construction. The final design phase for Segment 1: Fourth and Fifth Avenue Bikeways is now underway, and the project team is working to refine aesthetics, landscaping, and other design features, with construction anticipated to begin in 2019. Segment 4: Mission Hills and Old Town Bikeways will enter final design at a future date. The portion of the Segment 5: Park Boulevard Bikeways from Robinson Avenue to Upas Street is undergoing preliminary design, and environmental review. The section of Segment 5 from Upas Street to Village Place is still in the planning phase and will be completed at a future date. SANDAG will continue to work with community stakeholders during final design and construction of all Uptown Bikeways segments.

How has SANDAG responded to community input during the project design process?

Since the beginning of the planning process in 2012, seven community workshops have been held and more than 100 presentations have been made to community groups. As a result, numerous design features have been explored and incorporated into the project design, where appropriate.

How were the recommended alignments identified?

In 2013, a thorough analysis of more than 50 alignment alternatives was conducted and took community input into account throughout the process. The analysis included both quantitative and qualitative evaluation of a variety of factors. Alternatives were narrowed down in several steps: First, basic factors were considered, including connectivity, directness, grade, and existing traffic stress level of the street. The remaining alternatives went through two additional rounds of analysis that used more specific evaluation criteria based on the project goals. A summary of the planning and analysis process and outcomes is documented in the Alignment Analysis Comprehensive Report, available on the Get Involved tab.

Parking: How will parking be affected?

As a result of a collaborative effort between SANDAG, the City of San Diego, and local communities, the current Uptown Bikeways Phase 1 plan identifies the opportunity for a net increase of 55 parking spaces along the Fourth and Fifth avenues project corridor from Downtown San Diego to Washington Street. As the final design phase for Phase 1 progresses, SANDAG will continue to work closely with the City of San Diego and local communities to secure these parking spaces.

In Hillcrest from Upas to Washington streets, along Fourth and Fifth avenues, a net loss of 23 parking spaces has been identified in the project plans. SANDAG will continue to work with the City of San Diego and local communities to minimize the loss of on-street parking associated with bikeway improvements. 

Traffic Circulation: How would traffic circulation be affected?

SANDAG published a Traffic and Safety Impact Assessment, which concluded that the project would not result in any vehicular traffic impacts, as defined by the City of San Diego Significance Thresholds for Traffic Impacts. The project would also not have any negative safety impacts for people walking or riding bikes.

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