OB Planners to Tackle Replacing Car Parking Spaces With Bicycle Spaces and Roundabout on West Point Loma – Wed., August 4

by on August 2, 2021 · 17 comments

in Ocean Beach

The Ocean Beach Planning Board meets this Wednesday, August 4. The Board still meets by Cisco WebEx and participants must register (go here).

According to their agenda, the Board does not have any development projects to review, but it does have three items on the agenda of note.

First, the Board will finalize their priority list of CIP (Community Infrastructure Projects), continued from their last meeting. Upon request of the city, the Board puts together a list like this every year. Now, whether the city actually looks at the list or “goes” by it is up for question, but at least OB’s planning board goes on record with what the community’s priorities are.

Next up on the agenda, it appears the Board will wade into the controversies surrounding replacing car parking with bicycle parking. This issue is being raised by the Transportation Committee of the Board, tabled from last meeting. (I could not decipher the description of this agenda item without my trusty copy of the San Diego Municipal Code, which I don’t have handy.) However, the Transportation Committee supports “the update to replace minimum parking requirements with bicycle parking at a ration of two bicycle parking spaces for every 1 vehicle parking spot,” whatever that means.

The third issue to be tackled by the Board is whether it should request a traffic study to evaluate a roundabout along West Point Loma Avenue at Ebers, Cable and Abbott streets. The issue of a roundabout on West Point Loma has been bantered about for years, and obviously, nothing conclusive has ever been done.

Here is the official agenda.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Sam August 2, 2021 at 3:05 pm

I don’t see the point of converting those intersections to roundabouts. The idea of a roundabout is to allow a free flow of traffic. The problem with these intersections is that traffic is always backed up in both directions at Sunset Cliffs and Nimitz. Roundabouts would do nothing to increase traffic flow. Now if you were trying to turn Nimitz and Sunset Cliffs and Nimitz and West Point Loma into roundabouts, that would be something worth exploring. That would dramatically increase traffic flow in and out of OB.

Parking is already bad enough on Newport, replacing it with bicycle parking sounds ludicrous. For every once car parking spot, potentially bringing 4 patrons to the area, you would be potentially cutting that in half, or worse, and also limiting the amount of goods someone might buy and take home in a car. I really wish everybody in this town would stop tripping all over themselves trying to appease the biking crowd.


Kate Bell August 2, 2021 at 3:25 pm

Referring to the Roundabout @W. Pt. Loma Blvd. and Bacon. That means that cars can keep moving along the circle. Are they eliminating the stop signs? I would think so. What about pedestrians? There are also people with wheelchairs. How do they get across. The city put in ADA curbs on one side but not on the north side. There are no sidewalks on the north side entering Rob field. Maybe the city can return and add those items instead. Common sense where for art thow?


Pete R August 2, 2021 at 4:31 pm

Anything the city installs will need be ADA compatible, and in fact would upgrade the pedestrian facilities at this bad intersection. There are plenty of designs for roundabouts that incorporate ADA facilities. (In this small setting I think they also called neighborhood traffic circles – if you Google that you can probably see examples.) Part of their design principles is to calm (slow) traffic while also helping it move more smoothly with less stop/start. There are plenty of examples all over the country and state. This type of treatment would improve safety for pedestrians and ADA users over what’s there now.


Geoff Page August 3, 2021 at 5:45 pm

I have to agree with Sam’s comments. It’s not that traffic on West Point Loma needs to move more smoothly. The problem is the back up from Sunset Cliffs that will extend right through this circle. Put a circle at Sunset Cliffs and West Point Loma to relieve the back up at that light. Putting these in the intersections Sam mentioned would make way more sense as these would move traffic more quickly, which is needed there.


Paul Webb August 5, 2021 at 6:23 pm

There was a point in my youth where I had driven more miles in Great Britain than I had in the US, so I am very familiar with roundabouts. They make sense in some situations, but are a horrible “solution” in others. I was more than a little surprised recently to come across one in a very remote area between Oakhurst and Placerville. Really caught me by surprise as they are not that common here and this was in a pretty remote area on the outskirts of a very small town. Go figure. Kind of like the one in north county on Valley Center Road and Rte. 78.

Roundabouts as practiced in the the context of San Diego are employed more as traffic calming measures than as facilitators of the flow of traffic. I really can’t imagine them used here the way they are in England and in Europe where multiple lanes of traffic converge on and exit from a traffic circle.. I’m not saying they can’t work, I’m just saying that I cannot imagine what the average San Diego driver would do in one of these multi-lane traffic circles, much less what an Arizona driver might do! I suspect there would be mayhem.

W. Point Loma and Abbott Street, yes. Cable and Ebers? I seriously don’t think there is enough room without taking some private property. That said, it would be interesting to see a traffic study and conceptual design.


Geoff Page August 5, 2021 at 7:11 pm

You know, I had the same worry about how folks here would react to these circles. My experience with them was two weeks in New Zealand, driving on the left side of the road! I rented a vehicle and drove everywhere for two weeks, getting used to roundabouts and the wrong side of the road at one time was rough. But, if I could do it, I think most folks could get used to it and would like it.

I found the roundabouts worked very well and traffic kept moving, but, they were not used everywhere. They were used at major crossroads and such, I didn’t see any in areas like they are planning here. I also have to wonder if there is enough room, the circles I drove in were much larger.


Judy Swink August 30, 2021 at 6:17 pm

The several very small traffic circles on La Jolla Blvd. in Bird Rock seem to work really well and serve their primary purpose, traffic calming. Many of us probably remember how fast traffic used to travel along that 2-lanes each way wide roadway.


Geoff Page August 31, 2021 at 10:45 am

Memories are tricky things, for all of us, Judy. When I first came to San Diego, I lived near Windandsea beach but drove regularly to Tourmaline to surf. I was an older beginner, so I did not attempt the Windandsea break. And I was clearly not a local and those were the days when localism began to become rampant. But. I digress.

I remember two lanes each way as you described but I thought that ended at Bird Rock because there were businesses on each side of the road and it was narrower. The traffic circles start and end with the Bird Rock commercial area. I do remember the fast traffic on La Jolla Blvd. until it hit Bird Rock and then it slowed. This was over 40 years ago so it is possible, very possible, that my recollection is off.


nostalgic August 5, 2021 at 6:44 pm

Keep in mind that the roundabouts occupy no more space than the Intersection, unless the city is willing to acquire existing private space. They seem unwilling to do that. The roundabouts in Europe are much larger around. When La Jolla Blvd had theirs put in, the buses couldn’t navigate them and drove straight across. And how many people in O. B. know the rules for roundabouts?
Interesting to watch this solution.


kh August 5, 2021 at 7:33 pm

There’s a big difference between a roundabout and a traffic circle, at least in san diego planning terms. traffic circles merge vehicles into a circular road, and can be large, with multiple lanes.

A roundabout is more like a controlled yield were you only have to wait until it’s clear on your left. and that forces you to slow down to navigate it. You won’t have more than 1 or 2 vehicles in it at once.

Anyways roundabouts on this stretch is a waste of time unless the flow of traffic on Sunset entering and leaving OB can be addressed. And Wpl/Nimitz.

The fact is all these cars don’t fit in OB during peak times. At least when a standard intersection is backed up,cross traffic can usually flow. I doubt that will be the case with a roundabout.
Roundabouts in heavy pedestrian areas can also be entirely blocked by pedestrians crossing.

We’ll get a preview when one goes in at WPL/Bacon. It might be a disaster, it might not. I think that will guide us on how to move forward (or backward). It will at least add ADA access to the north side of the intersection and hopefully Robb field.


Peter from South O August 6, 2021 at 12:17 am

Up here in the North County there was a heck of a brouhaha about the concept of putting a roundabout at the border of Oceanside and Carlsbad smack dab in the middle of a busy section of Coast Hwy.
It’s been in place now for a couple of years, and has been a rousing success, despite the challenging incline and considerable pedestrian, bus and bicycle traffic.
To see it without wasting gasoline, do a web search for “public art coastal helix” (art installation in the central island) and look at the street view.
There used to be a lot of congestion at the replaced intersection, and except in the case of extreme rush hour traffic, that has pretty much gone away.


Paul Webb August 6, 2021 at 9:37 am

Back in the seventies, the city proposed to alleviate traffic in OB by turning Sunset Cliffs and Cable Street into one way “couplets.” In-bound traffic would turn right on W. Point Loma, then left on Cable. Sunset Cliffs would be straight out of OB.

This would have been a great benefit to traffic, but would have ruined OB, essentially bisecting it with two high volume streets. Things that benefit traffic flow can have negative consequences. I hate to get caught in traffic, especially heading out of OB in the afternoon and early evenings, but I prefer to have walkable streets.


Frank Gormlie August 6, 2021 at 9:41 am

Absolutely, Paul! I remember and I was there with the OB Community Planning Group when the city recommended the one-way streets. We totally opposed the idea and viewed one-ways as speed-ways and like rivers of traffic difficult to cross. That position has been kept by subsequent OB Planning Boards for 50 years.


Devon August 7, 2021 at 9:25 am

Bike racks in the street is Rediculous. They fit perfect on the sidewalks were they belong
I’m a biker not a driver


C Kado November 2, 2021 at 10:50 am

Whoever decided to build this is an idiot
Just like those bike lanes on W Point Loma
Its hard enough to park in OB as it is,getting rid of parking spots for bike racks nobody is going to use is stupid


Paul Webb November 2, 2021 at 11:45 am

Now that I have seen the almost finished version of the roundabout, I have to agree. I can’t wait to see what this looks like on a nice summer weekend day when there’s good beach weather and a soccer tournament at Robb Field. I would like to be proven wrong, given that I will now have to live with this thing forever, but I suspect it is going to be a disaster. Watching pedestrians, cyclists and a woman with a stroller trying to navigate through the intersection leads me to believe that the supposed cyclist safety and walkability improvements are very much overblown.


Sam November 2, 2021 at 12:40 pm

They really screwed the pooch on this. The lanes are too narrow and they’ve gotten rid of the turn lanes going into and out of Robb Field. I was so optimistic, but alas the San Diego “engineers” have proven their incompetence yet again.


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