City creates mobility board to focus on safer and cleaner transportation goals
Santa, and Santa's helper, ride an e-scooters north up Mission Boulevard. / THOMAS MELVILLE / BEACH & BAY PRESS
A new mobility board has been created by the City of San Diego combining two previously existing bicycle advisory and parking advisory boards under the same roof.
It’s a development bicycle advocates Nicole Burgess, District 2’s rep on the previous bicycle advisory board covering the beachfront, and Andy Hanshaw, executive director of San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, are cautiously supporting.
“Innovation in transit and increasing competition for the public right-of-way has fundamentally shifted the way we move ourselves around, meaning the decisions we make will have greater impacts on the quality of life of all San Diegans,” said District 3 Councilmember Chris Ward, who spearheaded creation of the new mobility board. “This will build on past successes, while informing future transportation decisions in a holistic, comprehensive manner.”
Ward said the new mobility board will aim to provide “safe choices to move around San Diego that facilitate our goals in the Climate Action Plan (CAP) and Vision Zero.”
Vision Zero is a strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, particularly those involving pedestrians and bicyclists, while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all.
San Diego’s legally binding CAP enacted in 2015 calls for eliminating half of all greenhouse-gas emissions, and for all electricity used in the city, to be from renewable sources by 2035.
Ward said the new mobility board will incorporate the work of its predecessors. “I want to reassure parking and bicycle board members that their work will be capitalized on through the guise of the mobility board,” he said adding the process was not “a last-minute thing.”
“For more than six months, we have met with stakeholder groups, both private and public,” Ward said. “The challenge is, if you are asking your advisors to help advise decision makers, you need them to answer the same questions, with the same wider perspective, we have to operate under.”
Ward added the mayor’s administration has promised to have a city staffer with “the proper skill sets and expertise,” to respond to the new mobility board and address a lot of its goals.
“That’s a huge step forward,” Ward concluded.
While supporting the new mobility board in concept, both Burgess and Hanshaw are keeping a watchful eye on its implementation.
Burgess has some reservations.
“Although I am supportive of Mayor Faulconer's and Chis Ward’s office for good intentions to create a holistic mobility board, I am disappointed with the process and the ordinance that was approved,” she said. “I believe we should have done better, and would have appreciated a more collaborative and inclusive proposal.”
Burgess noted she was “proud” of the work the Bicycle Advisory Board accomplished during the past four years noting, “It was the only City board dedicated to creating safer streets for everyone. As streets have been resurfaced, we have collaborated with City staff to repurpose them with paint to slow traffic, dedicate space, and prioritize active and healthy modes of transportation.”
There is a lot to gain — and lose — said Burgess, with the outcome of the newly created mobility board.
“There is great potential for San Diego to become a world-class, bicycle- friendly city,” she said while pointing out, “I believe dissolving the Bicycle Advisory Board is a step backward. Nonetheless, I will stay optimistic, and roll with the changes and continue to enjoy my commutes near and far and advocate for a healthy future.”
Hanshaw has taken a wait-and-see attitude toward the new mobility board. He pointed out there’s a lot of work to be done to make San Diego more bike-friendly.
“The City is facing challenges on a daily basis for implementing its CAP,” said Hanshaw. “I want to believe that, moving forward, the mobility board is going to make things better.”
“The underlying goal here is for the City to meet their CAP goals, which are focused on bike, walk and transit, and shifting modes away from single-occupant driving,” Hanshaw added. “We have to be focused on mobility, prioritizing bike, walk and transit, which has to be 50 percent of mode share by 2035. If creation of the mobility board streamlines, or makes more comprehensible, the CAP and its implementation plan, I want to support it.”