Hillcrest united behind new University Ave. Bike Plan

At one point this past winter, the division and rancor in Hillcrest over the SANDAG Uptown Regional Bike Plan, and especially plans for University Avenue, seemed to be tearing the community apart. Amazingly, however, over the last few weeks, the community has come together and collalesced behind a new proposal by retired architect, planner, and Uptown resident Jim Frost.

The plan, “Transform Hillcrest”, not only has bike advocates excited, but the Uptown Community Parking District (UCPD), the Hillcrest Business Association (HBA), the Hillcrest Town Council (HTC), and Hillcrest CDC (HCDC) have all signaled their support, and have signed on to a request that SANDAG seriously consider the Plan. GSSD also gives the plan high marks for it’s people-centric design that has the potential  to transform Hillcrest.

A View of East University Ave between Vermont and Richmond

Transform Hillcrest is divided into two sections: East University Ave. and Central University Ave. (click on links for .PDFs). The East University proposal removes one travel lane, and places East-West thru traffic on the south side of University and a local access / parking lane on the North side. The proposal increases parking, provides protected bike lanes, accommodates traffic and improves the pedestrian experience. The Central University proposal makes University one-way from 1st Ave to 4th Ave, freeing space for protected bike lanes and parking. 

Central University Ave proposal between 3rd and 4th

The proposal culminates with the previously proposed Pride Plaza at University and Normal, leading to the Normal Street Rambla. These plans have the potential to transform Hillcrest and be a model for neighborhoods throughout San Diego. 

Proposed Plaza at University and Normal

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9 Responses to Hillcrest united behind new University Ave. Bike Plan

  1. Greg says:

    The big plus of the proposal is that it would fundamentally change the character of University away from one that is currently almost totally auto-centric. It would add protected bike lanes and make it easier for pedestrians trying to cross University,

    The big minus is the obsession with preserving on-street parking. When that happens, typically bikes or transit or both get the short end. There’s more than enough on-street and surface parking in the Hillcrest area, especially if properly priced.

    Two areas where the plan is lacking is that it makes little or no provision for transit and it does little to address the lack of adequate sidewalk space for pedestrians, especially on the south side of University between 10th and Normal where often unused sidewalk expansions from businesses have taken away too much of the sidewalk space for pedestrians. What I would prefer to see instead, on this stretch of University, is replacement of all of the parking with wider sidewalks and a dedicated bus lane while retaining the protected bike lanes. Spacing of bus stops for the three bus lines serving University east of the 163 freeway is such that no one would have to walk more than one block to reach any of those businesses between 10th and Normal.

    Also, going to one-way on University west of 4th would require rerouting part of two bus lines and relocation of stops that could reduce parking somewhat on nearby streets. I’m not lamenting the possible loss of parking spaces for that purpose, just noting that it could occur unless stops are eliminated.

  2. Josh says:

    I agree there are problems with the design, and not only for transit. To me it doesn’t make sense to narrow the street and then create a second street right next to it to access parking. It’s a waste of space. It will create inevitable backups from people waiting for parked cars to leave and no out for those stuck behind them. Similarly, the bike lane doesn’t look wide enough for passing. Unless they still plan to have traffic controls there will be cyclists backing up in the street waiting for pedestrians, and potentially drivers stuck behind them. Will sitting on the landscaped median sandwiched between the two roads be particularly enjoyable? I don’t see it. The sidewalk’s potential utility is reduced by splitting it between the existing inadequacy and a crappy plaza. It seems to me the design wants to give drivers the impression of pedestrian friendliness but not actually offer it, and it introduces additional problems in the process. If you want pedestrian oriented design get rid of the parking, at least on one side, move the bike lane further from the businesses so you can then widen the sidewalks on both sides to accommodate sidewalk seating and large planters that help buffer the noise of traffic.

  3. Diana says:

    University Ave is almost totally auto-centric, and that is the main reason for the high business/restaurant turnover. It is such a hostile environment that people living in nearby neighborhoods choose to drive instead of walk there.

    If University Ave were truly pedestrian and bike friendly, all the extra parking would be unnecessary.

  4. John says:

    I would be against any proposal like this one that makes public transportation less convenient and uses more public street space for parking private cars.

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  6. roger says:

    This plan is great except for the segment that takes you off university before crossing park blvd going east, to nowhere land. A lot of people come to hillcrest from northpark, city heights and vice versa. We need fully connected inter-district paths if we want people on bikes coming to businesses

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  9. michael murphy says:

    This plan is fantastically ill-conceived and short sighted.Those of us who live on University or adjacent streets are going to have to make adjustments to our lifestyle because of the bike riding population which is basically nill? I am disabled and very dependent on public transportation. Forcing me to walk extra distances to accommodate an imagined bike user population- is something I will take up with the ADA

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