Reader Rant: SDG&E Closes Section of OB Bike Path Without Public Notice Just Before “Bike to Work Day”

by on May 19, 2016 · 7 comments

in Culture, Environment, Ocean Beach, Reader Rant, San Diego

OB Bike path close sign 5-8-16

Photo by Tom Roebuck

OB Commuters on Bike Path Will Have to Take Lengthy Detour

By Tom Roebuck

Bike to Work Day is Friday, May 20th and has been heavily promoted by SANDAG.

But OB cyclists attempting to commute to work on Friday via the Ocean Beach bike path will encounter a chain-link fence just east of the W. Mission Bay Drive bridge.

With no public notice or input, SDG&E has completely closed the OB bike path between W. Mission Bay Drive and Pacific Highway until at least May 27.

The runway-flat stretch of blacktop on the south side of the San Diego River provides easy access from OB to Old Town, downtown San Diego and Mission Valley, and the closure will force cyclists, joggers, walkers and other users of the path onto busy surface streets for a lengthy detour.

On May 16, SDG&E sent an email to the San Diego Bike Coalition notifying the bike advocacy group of the closure and included a detour map that directs cyclists to cross the river on the W. Mission Bay Drive bridge, which lacks a bike lane.

The detour then turns east onto Sea World Drive, past Friars Road to Pacific Highway. Cyclists using the suggested detour would then turn right on Pacific Highway and into Old Town or continue into downtown San Diego.

Cyclists traveling from OB to Mission Valley should instead cross the river on the Sunset Cliffs Boulevard bridge and travel east on the Sea World Drive frontage road just south of the actual Sea World Drive, which connects to Friars Road.

Conrad Wear, Councilmember Lorie Zapf’s representative for Ocean Beach, replied quickly to an email asking about the status of the path. He forwarded an email that was sent to Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office from SDG&E with details about the project, but he said Zapf’s office was not notified about the closure.

Several messages were left with John Ly, Mayor Faulconer’s director of outreach, but those have not been returned.

The bike path is maintained by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and patrolled by park rangers. A call to the park ranger’s office was answered by an employee that at first thought the closure was due to a recent fuel-tanker spill on Morena Boulevard, but when informed the closure was due to an SDG&E construction project the employee needed to consult a supervisor for details. The supervisor has not returned the call.

Again, it’s very ironic that Bike to Work Day is May 20th, while OB cyclists commuting to work that day on the well-traveled bike path will have to take a lengthy detour when they meet up with that chain-link fence.

Oh, one alternate route is to travel south on the east-side sidewalk on Sports Arena Boulevard and ride through the Midway District to connect with Pacific Highway at Rosecrans Street.

Here is the proposed detour map:

OB Bike path close detourmap

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Geoff Page May 19, 2016 at 12:10 pm

I have been in construction for 43 years. Construction is disruptive but it is a necessary fact of life. Despite that obvious fact, people always complain about it. Once their house is built, they don’t want to suffer the inconvenience of a house being built next door. So there is a temporary inconvenience for cyclists, it happens. What good would notice have done? There are alternate routes. They may not be as nice as the bike path but for a few weeks is it really that big an issue?

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avatar M May 19, 2016 at 1:24 pm

I used to commute on this path to work in Hillcrest. This would have made me very late! Not sure who would’ve been angrier – me or my boss!!! (Probably my boss.)

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avatar Tom Roebuck May 19, 2016 at 3:45 pm

Thanks for reading my rant Geoff, a posted notice would have given those of us that use the bike path a warning that it would be closed and we could figure out an alternate route ahead of time and leave earlier so that we’re not late for work, as M pointed out. What happened was SDG&E just showed up Wednesday morning and put up a chain-link fence. It seems like a select few in the mayor’s office knew of the closure and didn’t lift a finger to let anyone know that a major bike path would be completely closed for more than a week. Hell, they didn’t even notify Zapf’s office or Parks and Rec about it.

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avatar Geoff Page May 19, 2016 at 7:16 pm

I agree with that point Tom, they should have. If it was not an emergency then they owed the public some advance notice.

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avatar Mark Dodge May 20, 2016 at 5:56 am

San Diego has just never been able to get it together as a bike commuting city. Seattle, Portland, Chicago and just about every place in northern Europe all do it better than us despite their bad weather. We have a decent amount of paths and lanes but maintenance is spotty and the signage (especially at transition points from one artery to another) is horrible.

Bureaucratic snafus like this SDG&E issue are common. I have commuted to two different office settings where, without notice, the changing and bike storage facilities have been shut down. You just show up one morning and are locked out. I used to commute to Lindbergh Field for flights where luggage was not an issue. Long ago they had a wonderful little bike rack area nestled in a safe place near what was then called the West Terminal. There was a small clique of us flyers and employees who used it. With the various make overs and expansions the cyclists were forgotten and the racks are gone.

The bottom line is this: Most of us have access to a bike and car. It should be obvious to planners and bureaucrats why (despite our great weather) a negligible amount of commuters choose the former each morning. The system coddles the auto infrastructure and leaves the bikers to fend for themselves.

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avatar Frank Gormlie May 20, 2016 at 5:36 pm

Thank you Tom Roebuck – you helped us scoop all other news. They all came out today with the detour on Bike to Work Day.

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avatar unwashedwallmartThong May 21, 2016 at 6:01 pm

If SDGE didn’t give a damn about their CEO meeting Peavey in Poland to do-the-deal regarding the 125 million dollar rip off for the Southland, then why would they give a damn about a little bike path?
Has anyone gotten any money back? Has anyone gotten any money returned from the last “energy crisis” of fifteen years ago when Gray Davis was ousted? Yea, maybe a nickel.
That last rate hike was a transfer of wealth because investors are guaranteed a return on their investment.
Don’t expect any respect from a company like Sempra.

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