March 7, 2006
Toto, We're Not in Portland Anymore
Lest it be said that I have never followed Jack Bogdanski's lead, I'm in San Diego this week, at a professional conference for my day job. Of course, I can't help making a few observations about my transportation environment.
I'm staying in the Gaslamp district, so please don't generalize beyond that specific area. Here's the top-of-mind stuff:
1) While the blocks are relatively small, not unlike Portland, the right-of-way is WIDE. Yet no sign of a bike lane anywhere. Pretty intimidating for pedestrians.
2) I was very sad to see that they had fenced off the light rail line (the San Diego Trolley) that runs near the waterfront. It means that you can only get to the water every third or fourth block. But then I saw why, the same right-of-way also has rails for freight. In fact, I wonder if it's ultimately part of the same freight line that we'll have to figure out what to do with if we want to open up Portland's east bank?
3) On the plus side, I love the pedicabs!
Thanks to all the fellow contributors who are helping pick up the slack back in PDX.
March 7, 2006 11:00 AM
I also find myself in San Diego about once a year for conference purposes. After about the second year of going down there, I got a bit tired of the Gaslamp/downtown district, and started to explore the other neighborhoods.
Now, San Diego is rated the #1 best large city in the country for bicycling by this year's issue of Bicycling magazine (behind Portland, of course, which is the OVERALL best city for bicycling of any size). This is a bit hard to believe, given the relatively low volume of bicyclists in the downtown/Gaslamp district -- I think the pedicabs outnumber other bicyclists 2:1 in most areas where they operate.
However, the light rail does run to a good many places (but not the beach), there are some bike paths going to some other places, and I did notice some bike lanes around town, too.
Last year, I stayed near the Old Town/Mission station (up about four stations north of American Plaza) to reduce hotel costs, and I caught the trolley down to the convention center. I must say, San Diego completely failed with relation to bicyclists and pedestrians in that district. The crosswalks are wide and not pedestrian-friendly, the roads dump bicyclists into massive intersections without any protection, and San Diego drivers can be decidely anti-bike and anti-pedestrian!
I do think the rail line across from the convention center is basically the southernmost extension of the one on the eastside of the Willamette, though I think it carries much less traffic at that point... passenger rail stops at American Plaza, and the only freight trains going that far south probably are the ones to and from Mexico or the local industrial uses of southern San Diego County. Portland, by contrast, has two or three major Amtrak runs on the eastside, as well as the main north/south West Coast mainline carrying port and other traffic between Seattle, Los Angeles and all points in between.
All in all, San Diego is a mixed bag.
March 7, 2006 10:17 PM
Ray Whitford Says:
My hope for rail on our Eastbank has always been for High Speed Rail, either elevated or below grade with the freight line.
Our river front should belong to people, not machines. Streetcars will be on MLK and Grand, and watercraft will have you covered if you wish to think about Venice.