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Uptown Might Be Warming to Bike Infrastructure

If a meeting last week was any indication, the tide may have turned on Uptown’s resistance to an influx of bikes in the neighborhood.

If a meeting last week was any indication, the tide may have turned on Uptown’s resistance to an influx of bikes in the neighborhood.

Back in September, members of the Uptown Planners questioned the decision to funnel money into the Uptown Regional Bike Corridor project, which they said would hurt local businesses by replacing parking spots with bike lanes. Here’s how we described the project back in September:

City engineers would like to remove a lane of traffic on both Fourth and Fifth avenues between downtown and Balboa Park, through Bankers Hill, to install dedicated bike lanes heading in each direction.

The hope is the clearly delineated bike lane will make novice cyclists or tourists more comfortable on a high-traffic road.

But at the group’s Thursday meeting, business owners who supported the project outnumbered those who didn’t.

Jeff Motch, co-owner of Tiger! Tiger! in North Park, said pedestrian traffic  is more valuable to his operation than a few parking spots at his storefront.

“If there’s capacity for 300 people inside, why would I care about the three parking spots that are gone?” Motch said.

On top of community members who spoke favorably about the project, another voice weighed in: Interim mayor Todd Gloria showed up at the meeting to give his stamp of approval.

“We cannot build enough roads, we also can’t build enough freeways …  and streets are not just for cars, they are for people too,” Gloria said.

A SANDAG team spearheading the project selected a 12-mile route running along three corridors that will connect Uptown to Old Town, Mission Valley, Downtown, North Park and Balboa Park. The routes were selected from 50 possibilities and will connect seven different communities.

Now that routes have been selected, project leaders will focus on economic development, design and cost feasibility issues.

The next step there: So-called place-making, which is the process of harnessing community assets to create new public spaces.

That will begin with the design of protected bikeways along the selected corridors by painting gold lines for bike paths and adding strips with trees to the street.

The project, paid for by TransNet, the county’s voter-approved, half-cent-sales tax for transportation projects, is now looking to continue community and business outreach to evaluate design solutions and enhancements that could affect businesses.

The SANDAG project team will hold its next community advisory meeting June 12.

Correction: An earlier version of this post misspelled Jeff Motch. 

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