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Tommy Speaks with KUSI About Gold Coast Traffic Realignment

It seems Gold Coast Drive can’t catch a break, even on the west side of the road that isn’t in terrible structural shape.

Dozens of neighbors reached out to me last week by phone, text, and social media, as well as at the door, to let me know about the strange traffic realignment that appeared for several hundred feet on the west end of Gold Coast between Hemphill Dr. and Royal Ann. No notice of the change or realignment was made to neighbors ahead of time, nor to any of our local leaders with neighborhood organizations, or even to Councilmember Cate’s office. No one knew anything about it. And it was quite a surprise.

As I noted last week, the city replaced the double yellow line along this critical southwest Mira Mesa arterial with what are called edge lanes, featuring a slightly wider single lane, flanked on either side by bicycle lanes separated by a broken line. Cars still park on both sides of the street along the curb. It’s counterintuitive, and curiously dangerous.

According to the city the two lanes are still there, but the bicycle lanes on either side push cars down the middle, with oncoming motorists apparently supposed to read each other’s minds about getting out of each other’s way from a head-on collision by bowing into the bicycle lane to their right. There aren’t any signs, though the city did issue something akin to an instructional diagram.

I’m not sure why this length of road was chosen or why it goes for all of one block. No one asked any of us. This stretch of Gold Coast doesn’t even have the kind of habitual speeding other Mira Mesa routes do. But as I’ve spoken about at length throughout this campaign, and my 2018 campaign, we have to consider ways to retrofit our dangerous, high-speed suburban spaces to make it safer for those who want to get out of their car – we can’t continue to tolerate people being killed several times a year simply crossing Mira Mesa Blvd. But this block of Gold Coast is neither dangerous or high-speed.

Casting a wide net for new ideas is marvelous, but not bothering to reach out to stakeholders, i.e. neighbors who actually use the road that’s less than a block from an elementary school, speaks volumes about the city’s attitude toward our District 6 communities. They’d rather not hear from us or bring us into the conversation. And we’re tired of that. That’s why I always say “neighborhoods first.”

Inviting head-on collisions and asking an oncoming motorist to accommodate your instinct for self-preservation by driving into a bike lane, in my opinion, isn’t safe for anyone. This reimagining of a functional, long-established traffic pattern – with zero input from stakeholders, residents or any attempt to inform them ahead of time – is unacceptable.

I fully support a robust climate action plan. In fact, I helped build support for what became the city’s Climate Action Plan through my work with our county Democratic Party and San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action, which I was leading at the time. I’ve been an advocate for making streets in D6 more pedestrian and bicycle safe, which isn’t only good for the environment, but necessary given the volume of new units being built in our neighborhood and the number of new neighbors we’ll soon be welcoming to our community.

But for all of one block this isn’t about effective climate action. It’s not even about any kind of improvement. It’s just empty posturing that puts neighbors, motorists, and bicyclists at greater risk.

I spoke with KUSI-TV about the realignment on Thursday, and again on their Friday newscast.

NBC San Diego also did a story on the traffic realignment.