SAN DIEGO — San Diego city crews were out in full force installing a protected bike lane along a busy stretch of Park Boulevard in University Heights.
Some business owners and residents were also out to rally against the new bike lane project which will remove 88 parking spaces and reduce traffic lanes along vast portions of the roadway.
They say the city failed to adequately notify residents and business owners about the impacts to parking and traffic on the busy street.
"The reason why that middle lane is so important to us businesses is because we accept deliveries there so all of our delivery trucks stop there, it's how we get our goods," business owner Ben Evans told CBS 8. "It's going to cause traffic jams. The issue for us is just the lack of access for our customers."
The group's concerns are similar to those voiced in North Park along 30th Street where the protected bike lanes have divided cyclists and some business owners who say the city's removal of parking has resulted in a loss of revenue for businesses.
“Businesses are crying out. We all pay taxes and we work hard,” said Evans. “Where are our customers going to park if we lose all this parking? How are we supposed to stay in business?”
Lance Stratton owns a kitchen design firm on Park Boulevard. Stratton says the lack of parking will keep people away from the area and out of his showroom, “We’re losing spaces in front of our building and you know, people come to see us from all over the county," said Stratton. "They won’t come if they can’t park. They’re not going to park three blocks away. They’re just not.”
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Cyclists and pedestrian groups, however, say the lanes not only ensure pedestrian safety but also move the city closer to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
Katie Burruso was at Monday's event in support of the bike lanes. Burruso, who appears at community meetings in support of boosting bike infrastructure, says the lanes make her feel safer.
"I'm really excited about them. I personally would love a safe way to get to all of the businesses on Park Boulevard and to Balboa Park," said Burruso.
Burruso is not the only cyclist who welcomes the increased safety that comes with the lanes.
“I bike on this street a lot with my kids," said cyclist Jesse O'Sullivan. "You know, this street is fine for me, but the real question is whether this bike lane is safe for kids and right now, it’s not.”
Will Rhatigan, Advocacy Director for the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, agrees. “I think everybody wants to see a neighborhood where they can go out with their family, their kids, go for a bike ride, and get to the place where they need to go without fearing that their family member is going to be killed and that’s exactly what these bike lanes are doing,” said Rhatigan.
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The Park Boulevard Proposal
According to a May 5 city presentation to the University Heights Community Association, the city will have a protected bike lane along both sidewalks from Adams Avenue to Meade Avenue while putting in a parking lane in both directions between the bike lane and traffic lane. In order to make room for the new bike lanes, crews will remove a middle traffic lane along Park Boulevard.
The design changes south of El Cajon Boulevard and Washington Street. The two middle bus lanes remain, with a single lane on each side devoted to vehicles. A lane of traffic will be removed in each direction in order to make room for angled parking and a protected bike lane running along the sidewalk.
In all, the city will remove 88 total parking spaces along the mile or so stretch of Park Boulevard in order to accommodate the protected bike lanes.
As for the construction schedule, the city told CBS 8 that crews are expected to be done by next Monday.