San Diego announces plan to repurpose public streets

The City has launched a “Slow Streets” pilot programme which prioritises walking and cycling as a way to encourage physical distancing and active lifestyles.

San Diego announces plan to repurpose public streets

City of San Diego Mayor, Kevin L. Faulconer, recently joined with City Councilmember Jennifer Campbell and mobility advocates to introduce a “Slow Streets” pilot programme to repurpose public streets, create more outdoor space and encourage safe walking and cycling while still following public health rules for physical distancing and facial coverings.

COVID-19 has forced us to rethink everything we do and how we go about our daily lives, and what we need right now are more safe spaces for San Diegans to stretch their legs with a walk or a bike ride,” Faulconer said. “This pilot programme is about creating more space outside your place by closing a few streets to give people room to be active and maintain their physical distance from others trying to do the same.”

The changes include:

  • Creating slow streets: The City will close select streets to thru traffic to prioritise pedestrian and cyclist use to prioritise cost-effective transportation for essential workers. This includes temporary barriers and signage
  • Reopening commuter bikeways: The City will reopen key bikeways as transportation corridors to connect essential workers to their jobs
  • Enhanced pedestrian street crossings: The City will replace existing buttons with larger buttons that can be pushed with a forearm or elbow to eliminate touching potentially contaminated surfaces. The City has also already changed the signals to a shorter default time in key areas to reduce wait times
  • Communicating right-of-way and pedestrian safety: The Transportation & Storm Water and Planning Departments will develop a public education campaign to increase pedestrian awareness and safety practices for shared roadways that adhere to social distancing requirements.

“It’s time for San Diego to take positive steps to ensure our residents can get the exercise and outdoor time they need,” Campbell said. “That’s why implementing these common sense ideas will make everyone feel safer if they’re out walking, running or riding their bikes.”

“Transportation is essential for everyone during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Maya Rosas, Director of Policy for Circulate San Diego. “The Mayor’s slow streets initiative will create the space needed so that San Diegans can access their essential jobs or essential needs while physically distancing and staying safe.”

“We’re pleased to see this initiative move forward with input from mobility, environment and community advocates,” said Andy Hanshaw, Chair of City’s Mobility Board. “Safe, outdoor spaces for residents to access their jobs and essential needs by biking and walking is critical during this time. These include the existing commuter bikeways that also make these connections. We look forward to helping identify additional streets that build on this network.” 

“This initiative is a big deal and great first step for reimagining our streets to make them safe for all people, not just cars,” said Matthew Vasilakis, Co-Director of Policy for the Climate Action Campaign. “Through slow streets, San Diego is showing its commitment to our Climate Action Plan, public health and clean air, as well as safe streets. Kudos to the Mayor and Council.”