San Diego has a patchwork of transportation non-profits, and livable streets advocates. Each group primarily focuses on its own speciality – walking, biking, transit, placemaking, etc. Yet, all of these things need to be present to create a Livable Neighborhood with Living Streets.
In what I know to be a first for San Diego, these various groups have banded together and formed the Living Streets Coalition — a coalition of transportation non-profits, planners, and designers, representing thousands of San Diego residents who are passionate about rebuilding our city’s streets and neighborhoods.
The Living Streets Coalition consists of Walk San Diego, Bike San Diego, San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, Move San Diego, the City Heights Community Development Corporation, SD Streets for People, Placemakers, Urban Green and Great Streets San Diego. (see the end of this post for links to each organization’s website.)
The Time is Right
In his first State of the City address, newly elected Mayor Bob Filner focused on livable neighborhoods, urban planning, and creating walkable, bike-friendly San Diego neighborhoods. His commitment to creating vital and vibrant neighborhoods, akin to the transformation of Downtown and East Village, is encouraging.
It appears we have a new Mayor who knows San Diego must compete. Chicago, New York City, Minneapolis, Portland, Washington DC, Long Beach, Cleveland … all these cities have made creating safe, livable, walkable, bike-friendly neighborhoods a priority. San Diego must now play catch up, and even surpass.
The Vision / The Plan / The Challenge
With the goal of attracting young, educated, talented and creative individuals to San Diego, The Living Streets Coalition has proposed a plan to re-envision and remake San Diego’s Public Realm.
“We envision America’s Finest City as America’s most walkable and bike friendly city. We envision a public realm designed for people with a network of safe, livable, Complete Streets that connect our unique neighborhoods to ensure they are places where everyone can shop, live, work, and play.”
To achieve the vision, the Living Streets Coalition proposes a five year strategy that focuses on five main goals. The Plan is aptly named “5 in 5”.
5 in 5
The goals are ambitious, but achievable. They are in line with what other cities are already accomplishing.
- Safe Livable Streets for All
- America’s Most Bike Friendly City
- A City of Villages
- CycloSDias & Bike Share
- Five, Innovative Pilot Projects
Each goal has metrics by which to measure progress and success (for example) 555 new miles of bike facilities; Adoption of a Complete Streets Policy; CycloSDias in 2013; 55,000 new street trees; Focus on infill development; etc.
A Mayor Who is Listening
The Living Streets Coalition met recently with staff from the Mayor’s office and City Transportation Department to present their Vision and Plan. The reception was warm, attentive and encouraging, Future plans have the Living Streets Coalition becoming a part of the Mayor’s new Livable Streets Advisory Committee.
Innovation from the top down tends to be orderly and stupid, while innovation from the bottom up tends to be chaotic but smart.
The Living Streets Coalition gives a voice to the multitudes of San Diegans who want walkable neighborhoods, who want bike lanes and cycletracks, who want a good transit. It is helping to create livable neighborhoods from the bottom up. If you are not familiar with these organizations, please check them out, join, and let your voice be heard too.