Unrest around San Diego’s 30th Street Bike Path continues to rock North Park
More than six months after the completion of the 30th Street Bike Path, the North Park community is still torn about whether it has benefited or harmed the residents and businesses there.
Every day, about 100 to 200 cyclists ride the popular 2.4-mile stretch from Adams Avenue to Juniper Street, according to city data.
Cyclists were given their own lane, with a buffer zone and physical barriers, such as plastic poles or parked vehicles, to protect them from traffic.
Cyclist Tanya Yarbough said it made things much safer for her and her family.
“I never let my kids ride bikes on the 30th because it was so dangerous with the cars speeding by,” she said. “Now we cycle everywhere together…I barely use my car.”
To help track bike lane usage, the city installed a bike counter along 30th Street, which on Friday reported more than 8,000 cyclists passing since it began counting Jan. 21 .
“With its recent installation, the 30th Street Bike Path has already expanded options for San Diegans of all ages and abilities to get around safely, rely less on car trips, and help us achieve our ambitious climate action goals,” said Anthony Santacroce, public information officer. officer with the city.
However, the bike path has been a point of contention for other residents and businesses along its route, primarily because it has resulted in the removal of nearly 450 parking spaces from the street.
Now some claim the bike lane has actually led to increased vehicle emissions, due to drivers driving around in circles looking for parking.
“If you’re just coming to pick up and go, there’s no parking there,” said Cherie Gough, who frequents 30th Business, “and certainly, I’m always going around to find parking.”
Gough isn’t the only one complaining. Roanna Canete, owner of The Gluten Free Baking Co., said she gets calls almost daily from longtime customers complaining that she can’t find parking. She estimates that she has lost half of her business since the loss of the parking lot.
“We have survived the pandemic, which is literally nothing short of a miracle…and now we are going to be bankrupted by our own city,” Canete added.
Canete says the bike path has resulted in a loss of not only parking spaces, but also commercial loading areas, which is crucial for businesses like his that lack lanes or backdoors.
And it’s not fun for the workers. Canete says she bought an electric scooter for an employee who has to park a mile from work every day so she can get to work safely at night.
Restaurant owners say this has led to a loss of customers.
“People have been calling us to let us know they can’t pick up an order because they can’t find a place to park to pick up their food,” added Armando Leon, co-owner of Señor Mango’s, a to-go to the restaurant.
Ludovic Mifsud, owner of Et voilà! French Bistro, says the bike path has resulted in customers up to 45 minutes late for reservations or even total cancellation.
“They arrive upset and aggravated that parking is a nightmare,” he said.
Not all parking has been eliminated along 30th Street; There are 103 parking spaces left and 70 additional corner spaces have been added in the surrounding streets.
There is still a large parking structure in the heart of North Park that holds 361 spaces, costs $1 an hour and $5 after 6 p.m. Everett Hauser, program manager with the city’s Department of Transportation, said the structure has historically been underutilized.
Some of the business owners who complained are located about a mile from the parking structure.
For some companies, the bike path has been a godsend.
Justine Epstein, whose business, Verbatim Books, sits around the corner from the parking structure, says the bike lane has increased traffic in her store and has seen more people walking and cycling In the region.
“You’re just a bit further from the cars, so even if people aren’t on the bike path and you’re just walking, I think it’s a lot nicer,” she said.
However, Epstein said she knows things are likely to be different for businesses a few blocks away, such as those farther from the structure and at either end of the bike path.
At first, businesses were supportive of the city’s bike lane project — if those plans had included parking solutions, said Scott Kessler, executive director of the Adams Avenue Business Association.
“Although the city agreed to maintain some on-street parking, not enough was saved to avoid harming and disrupting commercial activity along 30th Street,” Kessler said. “Any impacts businesses are now feeling since bike lanes were recently extended to Adams Avenue were planned and avoidable.”
A group called Save 30th Street Parking staged protests and sued the city in an attempt to block bike lanes, but lost the case.
Since then, the companies have been working with the Adams Avenue Business Association to identify potential solutions, such as assessing the number of handicapped-accessible parking spaces in certain areas to see how many often go unused.
A number of “floating” parking spaces, located a few feet from the sidewalk and marked with stripes on the road, were also added, to protect bike paths and preserve more parking along 30th Street.
However, says Leon, they are usually cared for by residents of the community who leave their cars parked there all day. He thinks some of these spaces should be converted into 15-minute spots, where the sidewalk is painted green.
“Since COVID, our business has moved to all-pickup orders…(so) getting those green parking spots will definitely make a difference in our business,” he said.
Kessler says the city could help alleviate parking problems on 30th Street by speeding up the replacement of green, yellow and white zones; by converting parallel parking to front parking on cross streets and installing parking meters.
City officials, when asked about the impact of bike lanes on businesses, said they are monitoring the impact of the lanes on the community.