Tonight is the night for SANDAG's first community meeting for the Pershing Bikeway, a plan to create a route from downtown San Diego, through Balboa Park, and up to University Avenue in North Park. I hope it's well attended and SANDAG is open to ideas. Here are a few quick thoughts of mine.
1. The biggest issue for this bike route is the conflict with the freeway on ramps at the south end of Pershing, near downtown. To solve this problem, I think John Anderson has the best solution: a two-way cycle track on the south/east side of Pershing. If you look at a map, this avoids all freeway on-ramp conflicts and drops the cyclist right onto B street to head downtown. Brilliant.
2. A two-way cycle track, however, introduces its own concerns. Given the hilly sections of Pershing, there will be a big speed differential from cyclists going slowly uphill and cyclists flying downhill. Given the potential for nasty collisions, the lanes need to be as wide as possible.
3. Automobile speed is also a problem on Pershing, which has super wide lanes in some spots. To solve both problems, the car lanes need to be taken down to no more than 10 feet to give as much space as possible to the bike lanes. If SANDAG plans on anything more than 10 feet, they are blowing it.
4. SANDAG's general description of the project shows the bike lanes continuing all the way up Pershing to Upas and then jogging over to Utah. I think this is a mistake. The intersection of Pershing, Upas, and 28th Street is a mess with all sorts of conflicts and right of way problems. The intersection as currently designed is also difficult for pedestrians trying to get to Bird Park. I would love to see Pershing closed up there, but I'm not sure that can realistically happen. But still, a solution is needed.
My suggestion would be to route the bikes off of Pershing at the weird intersection with Redwood Street. Cyclists could then head east on my other proposal for the Redwood Rideway or head north on calm 28th Street, where the City's bike master plan already calls for a bike path which will also connect down to South Park and beyond. We could also simplify the mess of that intersection, where a cyclist was recently killed. Here is my rough sketch of the plan, with the cycle track in green and an expanded island in brown:
Then, to solve the ugly intersection at Pershing and Upas, I would close 28th Street to cars, just as it is north of Upas. This would ease the traffic on 28th Street and also make it much easier for pedestrians to get across to Bird Park. Here is the rough sketch:
Then, the route could curve around on Upas as a two-way cycle track (which might require a tiny bit of parking spot removal) and then split to head up Utah Street to University Avenue, with a stop sign or traffic light added at the Utah/Upas intersection. Utah is wide enough for the typical one-way cycle tracks on each side, hopefully with some improvements to stop signs and such to make it an easier ride.
So that's what I would do. I look forward to seeing what SANDAG comes up with. Let's hope they build it sometime this decade!