Councilmember Campbell’s Budget Recommendations Show a Slavish Kowtowing to Bicycle Advocates for Votes

by on November 18, 2022 · 24 comments

in Election, Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

After perusing Council member Jennifer Campbell’s September 10, 2022, Memorandum titled “Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Recommendations,” the not-so-shadowy hand of the cycling community becomes immediately apparent. One sentence in particular made this clear and caused a closer look at the memo.

“While flexible bollards are useful for demarcating space for bicyclists, they do not have any stopping power to prevent distracted, impaired, or malicious drivers from hitting bicyclists.”

“Malicious drivers?” Only the cycling advocates would say anything like that and Campbell included it in her budget memo. The closer review of Campbell’s budget memo revealed much more.

Public Safety

Under a section titled “Public Safety,” the memo contains one paragraph about SDPD recruitment, five paragraphs about lifeguards, a paragraph about emergency responses, and a paragraph about SDPD beach teams and foot patrols. In the middle of all that was this:

“Bike Registry and Anti-Theft Programs – Bicycle theft is an ongoing challenge for law enforcement throughout the city. Include funding for a bike registry to help track down stolen bicycles as well as continued funding for anti-bicycle theft programs.”

How does that qualify as a “Public Safety” concern and where does it rank in anyone’s mind, other than the cycling community, as a major budget concern?

Infrastructure & Sustainability

Another section of the memo is titled “Infrastructure & Sustainability.” One has to wonder why these two items were grouped together. There was quite a bit to this section but there was nothing about “sustainability.”

Under the subheading “Street Resurfacing” are paragraphs for Clairemont, Point Loma, Midway, and Old Town street improvements.

Each of the street improvement paragraphs, except Midway’s, begins with “Repaving is needed on the following streets with class IV bike lanes, improved pedestrian crossings, and ADA access.” The language is a bit confusing. This does not mean to say streets currently have “class IV bike lanes, improved pedestrian crossings, and ADA access,” it means that these things needed to be added.

The major section containing cycling agenda items is titled “Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety.” This section really illustrated the influence of the cycling community on Campbell. The section began with this:

The city should prioritize education programs to promote meeting the goals of the Climate Action and Vision Zero goals. Increased class IV pathways for bicycle and pedestrian use will help us meet those goals. In the areas mentioned below, there are clear pedestrian safety and access issues that need to be addressed to provide safe and convenient access for residents.

“Pedestrians” are thrown in each time but they are clearly not the focus.

The first item in this section is a request for “Construction Funding for the Liberty Station Bike Center (Building 191).”

The budget memo states that the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition currently holds a lease to Building 191 in Liberty Station that is owned by the city.  Campbell is requesting budget money so a Regional Bicycle Center can be developed there. The center would “provide a centralized space for bicycle education, rentals, events, and celebrations.”

Where to start with that one?

With everything this city needs, devoting any budget money to something like this, that screams for private funding, makes no sense. But, including this in her budget memo before the recent election, probably got Campbell a few more votes. Beyond that, putting something like this in Liberty Station is a lousy optic. It is hard to get any more Caucasian than Point Loma and Liberty Station in particular.

Just when it seems it cannot get any crazier, it does. Under another heading titled, “Install Physical Protection for All New Full-build Class IV Bikeways” is a discussion of Class IV bikeways. This has to be quoted completely:

Almost all recent bikeway projects in San Diego have used flexible bollards to separate bikeways from travel lanes. While flexible bollards are useful for demarcating space for bicyclists, they do not have any stopping power to prevent distracted, impaired, or malicious drivers from hitting bicyclists. All new full-build Class IV bikeways should use physical barriers for protection such as concrete medians and walls or jersey barriers to separate bikeways from traffic lanes. This item would require increasing the Transportation Department’s budget for each new Class IV bikeway.

This wording came directly – word for word – from the San Diego County Bike Coalition’s budget requests as seen on their website.

The completely unprofessional use of the wording “malicious drivers,” wording that could only have come from the cycling advocates, apparently slipped by Campbell’s reviewers. That kind of unsubstantiated judgement has absolutely no place in a budget document.

Having spent an entire career in the construction industry, this writer will note that this request is unrealistic for two reasons, cost and traffic flow. The concrete barriers are referred to as K-rails or jersey barriers. This type of concrete barrier can be precast or cast-in-place. There are big differences between the two.

Precast barriers can be lifted and placed with construction machinery. The barriers come in various lengths and have steel loops cast into each end. Barriers are joined by matching the ends and dropping a steel bar through the loops of each piece. There are ways to anchor the barriers to the pavement but these are not structurally significant.

Cast-in-place barriers have a footing and vertical steel reinforcement bar that ties the poured barrier securely to the ground. These barriers are the strongest and can take the impact of a car much better than precast barriers. Automobile impacts can damage and break the barriers but the base usually remains in place.

Precast barriers can also take impacts but they will move. The hoops and steel pin connection works well holding sections together but there is little to prevent lateral movement. An accident at the end of I-8 proved this. Precast barriers on the west side of Sunset Cliffs Blvd., protecting the skateboard park, were completely destroyed on impact.

Regardless of which type, precast or cast-in-place, is used, these barriers are expensive. Precast runs about $100 a foot and that is just material. It does not include the labor and equipment and traffic control costs for placing the barriers.

Precast barrier can have an added cost in that it can move when hit. It may be necessary to maintain it by realigning sections when there is movement and this requires labor and equipment. Cast-in-place barrier does not have this problem. The top can be broken in a serious accident but the work to repair it does not require a major effort.

Using some recent Caltrans information, 31,600/LF of cast-in-place barrier had a unit price of $140/LF.  Using a lesser quantity of 14,500/LF, the unit price goes up to $181/LF. The more barrier, the lower the per foot cost, but it is still very expensive. To request budget money for all new Class IV bikes lanes to have these barriers is unrealistic.

In addition to the cost, these kinds of barriers can have an effect on traffic flow. The full effect of having them in any locations would require an additional expense of traffic studies. A more reasonable request would be for such barriers only in places where cyclists must ride on a busy thoroughfare because there is no other choice, not for every Class IV bike lane.

In truth, Class IV bike lanes are not defined solely as having concrete barriers. The city’s own website defines them as follows:

Cycle tracks (Class IV), also referred to as protected bikeways, are exclusive bike facilities that combine the user experience of a separated path with the on-street infrastructure of a conventional bike lane. A cycle track is physically separated from motor traffic and distinct from the sidewalk. The separation maybe in the form of posts, parked cars or a combination of both.

The city’s description does not mention concrete. There is no argument that concrete barriers would be the safest option, but they are by far the most expensive as well.

The “Pedestrian & Bicycle” section contains much more about cycling, oh, and pedestrians too.

About the Balboa Station and Blue Line Trolley, the memo stated “providing a safe, direct route between surrounding communities and the Balboa Avenue Station for bicyclists and pedestrians must be the city’s top infrastructure priority in District Two.” This included a “pedestrian/bike bridge” over the I-5 freeway.

Some people would surely disagree that this should be the city’s top infrastructure project in District 2. A new lifeguard tower in OB for instance.  A pedestrian/bike bridge over the freeway is not a realistic budget request. But, it looks good.

The budget mentioned the Clairemont Drive Station and Blue Line Trolley stating that pedestrian and biking improvements were needed. Nothing specific was included.

The section that covered “Construction of Morena Blvd Class IV Bikeways” read like politics; the kind practiced by the cycling advocates. The reader can be the judge:

The Transportation Department is scheduled to construct bikeways on Morena Boulevard in conjunction with a pipeline replacement within the next several years. This is the most direct connection between neighborhoods South of Interstate 8 and the Pacific Beach, La Jolla, and University City communities, and as such, is an extremely popular route for cyclists despite the total lack of safe bicycle facilities. I urge the city to expedite this project as much as possible, as it has already been approved for Class IV cycle tracks within the Balboa Station Area Specific Plan and the Morena Corridor Specific Plan.

After all of that, Campbell’s only action was to “urge” the city to expedite the project. It was not clear why this was included in a budget memo.

There was a section about the intersection where westbound Sports Arena Blvd turns into West Point Loma Boulevard. The language in the memo was quoted and discussed in The Rag piece about the Midway planning group’s October meeting.

The cycling advocates wrote the memo language. A letter with this language was presented to both the Peninsula Community Planning Board and the Midway group. The goal was to obtain support for the letter. Apparently, the cycling advocates decided to bypass both groups, when they did not get their way immediately, and went directly to the council member who was up for re-election. It was included in Campbell’s budget request with no community support.

Another item was the Rose Creek Bike Path. The request is for “Installation of lighting along the bike path to promote safety. Funding should also be included to improve bicycle access and ADA accessibility. There is also an urgent need for a safe crossing on Mission Bay Blvd.”

There was also a request to “extend the bike trail from San Diego River West at Sefton Fields to Ocean Beach.” This was an odd request because there already is a bike path from the ballfield to OB.

Traffic Control

In this section of the budget memo were a number of places where the influence of the cycling advocates was evident. One was a request incorrectly titled “Pedestrian Bridge over Chatsworth Blvd at Plumosa Drive.” The request is not actually for a bridge.

The Peninsula Community Planning Board requested a “pedestrian crossing” across Chatsworth Boulevard “to increase safe access to Plumosa Park.”  The memo states that “High vehicle speeds make this road unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians.”  The memo further makes the unsubstantiated claim that this “crosswalk will calm traffic once completed. “Crosswalk” not “bridge.”

There is a request for a crosswalk at Balboa “on the east side of the intersection at Charger” to add improved access for walkers/bikes to the bus line. Pedestrians are now “walkers” in the memo.

In the end, it is easy to see how Campbell kowtowed completely to the cycling community. The question is why. Well, there was an election coming up and Campbell needed votes. The cycling community is close knit and well organized. There is no doubt the group can deliver votes because it consists of politically aware and active participants.

In effect, it can be said that Campbell paid for votes in her upcoming election with this ridiculous budget memo rife with cycling baubles. There should be a law.


{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Greg November 18, 2022 at 2:06 pm

Geoff Page writing about the Shadow Bicycle Illuminati? Like a warm cup of joe on a crisp fall morning. Divine.


Nathan November 19, 2022 at 12:11 pm

Seriously, if only Geoff and other site regulars would direct their flair for fancy words like slavish kowtowing to a more merited problem, like the city’s and country’s obsession with military violence, domestic violence, homelessness… etc.? But no, they reserve 90% of their energy and ire for bike lanes and the 30 foot height limit….


Chris November 21, 2022 at 1:27 am

I’m 100 percent pro bike lanes, but what exactly do you mean “the city’s obsession with military violence” lol? Are you talking about the large military presence here? That’s not going to change.


Geoff Page November 21, 2022 at 3:24 pm

You are thinking too narrowly, Nathan. The bike lane issue in this case is emblematic of the city’s top-down way of governing and that is a real boon to certain special interests. And, what some of these special interests are doing is hurting a lot of other people. If people will be hurt, they deserve a voice in the process.

And the 30-foot height limit is a very big issue for the whole city. Unfortunately, to many people looked at it as you have, as a narrow issue, and they may well regret it one day.

Finally, it you read The Rag regularly, you will finds pieces on everything you mentioned.


Michael November 20, 2022 at 2:25 am

Based, lets go bikers


Paul Grimes November 20, 2022 at 7:00 am

I could see k-rails going onto a street like Nimitz due to speed and few cross streets to contend with. The city needs to qualify such installations by traffic volume, speed, available width, curb cuts, intersections, and bike usage The last one doesn’t seem to be on the radar – the other day I walked from Voltaire to Rosecrans via Wabaska and Nimitz. in that roughly 30-minute hike I saw 1 bike in the expensively provided protected bike lane on what bikers call a major bike thoroughfare to move across SD.
There appears to be no real plan to build a network and no real standard for which type of bike facility they install. For example, there is a wide bike lane on Canon on the curved section from the west of Willow to Talbot. The city has sharrows on steeper Talbot that starts a block apart and ends at the same point. Put the bikes on the safer street and trim the bushes regularly.
Almost all new bike lanes seem like different demonstration projects that confuse drivers. The city looks at every repaving job as an opportunity to paint bike lanes. Routes are added in a totally haphazard way whatever a street is repaved. The result is bike lanes that have debris and are unswept due to barriers for street sweepers and unmaintained plants that grow into the path of the lane.
Each bike lane has different levels of safety for bikers. The city is now adding narrow, unbuffered bike lanes on the uphill side of collector streets by squeezing the parking to 7 ft. wide, narrowing travel lanes with the result being parked car mirrors sticking into the unbuffered bike lanes and those on bikes are within a couple of feet of busy traffic lanes.
I don’t know where the money for these really expensive projects will come from. Probably from the extra tax money from Prop B and revenues from rent from Prop C.
One more note, the Chatsworth crosswalk is not a bridge, but the concept is to choke the street to the width of 2 lanes which would make the pedestrian crossing shorter. It may also have a road hump like those in Liberty Station (raised table) which is a slight up-to-curb height, flat section, and then slightly down. It would also have some crosswalk signals. Interestingly, Chatsworth does not have huge parking demand between Rosecrans and the high school, so the white lane is kind of a defacto bike lane, which would have more issues at the crosswalk. At that point, Chatsworth is on a slope and hopefully, they will do something about water flow during rains.


Geoff Page November 21, 2022 at 3:06 pm

Very well said, Paul and good additional information for all.


Paul Webb November 20, 2022 at 11:25 am

Paul Grimes has spent a lot of time, energy and thought on transportation issues in our community, and people should listen to him as he makes more sense on these issues than many.

I never realized that there was any question or controversy over grade separated bike lanes until I got involved in the (still incomplete) bay route bikeway something like 40 years ago. I assumed that grade separated bike lanes were a no-brainer from a safety and/or a bike user standpoint. I got an earful from the cyclist community who were very vocal about physical barriers separating bike lanes from auto traffic, saying that they are not necessarily safer and that trash, etc., that serve as hazards to cyclists can’t be easily removed. It caught me totally by surprise.

Furthermore, I totally agree with Paul (such a great name) regarding the lack of actual planning for bike improvements. What we’ve been getting is a piecemeal hodge-podge of unconnected segments rather than a usable network. I have been long frustrated by bike routes and bike lanes that just end, often in a location where there is not a safe route forward. We need a comprehensive bike plan and a structured, logical implementation plan.


Geoff Page November 21, 2022 at 3:16 pm

It is happening this way because the cycling advocates are following the street improvements and are getting the city to add striping for bike lanes and other things with the “it’s cheap because the street is being restriped anyway” argument. Much of this is happening without any public input. In fact, I came across something that said the city is working with the cycling advocates to prioritize resurfacing or sealing streets based on cycling priorities and not necessarily on street conditions.


Chris November 21, 2022 at 1:52 am

I have to disagree with your stance on malicious drivers. I very much DO encounter them. There are lots of drivers out there who absolutely hate seeing us out on the roads. I personally know more than a few who openly admit they drive through bike lanes with the very intent of intimidating cyclists. They actually boast about it on Twitter.


Geoff Page November 21, 2022 at 3:10 pm

I never said they don’t exist. My point was that a subjective statement like that has no place in a professional document like this. If they put in a footnote to articles that verified actual incidents, then it might be ok. It is inflammatory and completely unprofessional.


MC Johnson November 21, 2022 at 12:57 pm

As a person who participated in focus groups that helped Councilor Campbell’s staff develop the budget request, I wish to disagree with some of the characterizations in this piece. Every Class 1 bike path is also a walking path and some find it hard to get recognition for the walkers. The use of the word ‘walkers’ is intended to improve understanding and simplify the discussion. Saying walkers rather than pedestrians is not some kind of cyclist plot. The point is that our auto centric streets are a danger to those walking and biking and we have asked for some crosswalks.


Chris November 21, 2022 at 3:29 pm

I started bike commuting to work at the beginning of Summer and it has made me very appreciative of what bike advocates fight for. Most days no problems but I’ve had a free scary encounters.


Geoff Page November 21, 2022 at 3:35 pm

It’s not what they advocate for, it is how they advocate.


Geoff Page November 21, 2022 at 3:33 pm

I don’t understand your comment about Class 1 bike lanes, there was no mention of those in this piece.

I don’t see how saying “walkers” improves understanding and simplifies any discussion. All I did was point out the different term for pedestrians used in the memo. Who said anything about a “cyclist plot?”

You asked for a lot more than a few sidewalks.


MC Johnson November 21, 2022 at 4:48 pm

My mention of Class 1 lanes was to add context to the discussion. You were discussing the budget memo. I thought those reading might want to know that the comments in the budget memo were not just about cyclists, that walkers do indeed want traffic safety improvements. In your article you also quote sections on “high vehicle speeds and traffic calming” while talking about a bridge. I think if you read the memo you will find that those were part of a request for crosswalks in Clairemont.
This section of your screed I condensed to ‘cyclist plot’ for brevity: “In the end, it is easy to see how Campbell kowtowed completely to the cycling community. The question is why. Well, there was an election coming up and Campbell needed votes. The cycling community is close knit and well organized. There is no doubt the group can deliver votes because it consists of politically aware and active participants.”


Geoff Page November 21, 2022 at 9:55 pm

Well, I’m sorry but I don’t see how a mention of Class 1 bike lanes adds context to the discussion when it was not part of the discussion.

Here is what the memo said about your comment ” “high vehicle speeds and traffic calming” while talking about a bridge.” Notice the Point Loma location.

“Pedestrian Bridge over Chatsworth Blvd at Plumosa Drive- Point Loma residents recently initiated a request for the city to create a pedestrian crossing across Chatsworth Boulevard to increase safe access to Plumosa Park. High vehicle speeds make this road unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians and this partially funded crosswalk will calm traffic once completed. The city should fund construction for this partially funded CIP as design is scheduled to finish in FY23.”

Finally, you comment about condensing my “screed” to ‘cyclist plot’ for brevity makes no sense. You wrote “Saying walkers rather than pedestrians is not some kind of cyclist plot,” referring specifically to my one brief comment about referring to pedestrians as walkers. It had nothing to do with anything else I wrote.


Paul Grimes November 21, 2022 at 10:37 pm

MC, it sounds like you are from Clairemont and it would be interesting to know who was contacted to be on the focus group. If you were speaking for pedestrians, you don’t live here since nothing new was added for the Peninsula. The budget memo may indicate the focus groups were hand-picked advocacy groups, largely from other parts of District 2 since the vast majority of projects are not on the Peninsula. I believe you have enlightened us about the thrust of the Dr. Jen campaign and why she seems to be MIA on the Peninsula.


Paul Grimes November 21, 2022 at 11:00 pm

By the way, Chatsworth Blvd/Lytton has a 30 MPH speed limit between Rosecrans to Nimitz Blvd. There are no bike lanes until south of Browning and then it is sharrows painted on the travel lanes. The white lines at the edge of the travel lanes do not demarcate bike lanes, but the edge of roadway markings and parking lane. The pedestrian crosswalk at Plumosa Park is designed to provide a safe crossing for pedestrians, including students walking to and from Loma Portal Elementary and Pt. Loma High. Unless a bike rider is walking the bike across at the pedestrian crossing the only advantage to bikes on Chatsworth would be the hope of reduced speed near the crosswalk.


Geoff Page November 22, 2022 at 12:29 pm

Again, well said, Paul, except for one thing. The cyclists have every intention of riding across that cross walk, not walking. It was one of theirs who was pushing for this crossing and they have no intention of walking their bikes across the road. And, pedestrians are not their concern.


Trevor H November 23, 2022 at 12:39 pm

As someone who has crossed to Plumosa Park across Chatsworth many, many times on foot, I can tell you this crosswalk would be a wonderful safety improvement. Crossing there is unbelievably dangerous right now.

Further, who really cares if a cyclist crosses on foot or on their bike? They’re not the ones hurtling 2 tons of deadly steel at 30mph into a shared space.


Geoff Page November 23, 2022 at 7:47 pm

I agree a crossing there is a good idea but I think a traffic signal is needed. A crossing without one is not the safest choice.

As for cyclists and crosswalks, the issue is that the crosswalks are for pedestrians but cyclists jump into them regularly as a way to avoid waiting at a light as they are supposed to do. It is no fun for pedestrians when this happens too.

And lastly, a car averages only a little over a half a ton of steel, not two tons. And traveling 30 mph would not usually be characterized as “hurtling.”


Chris November 24, 2022 at 6:21 am

I’ll admit I do this but I’m never directly near any pedestrians. Same with all other cyclists I know. Skateboarders and scooter(ers) are probably a bigger danger.


kh November 22, 2022 at 10:43 pm

I can see barriers being justified in certain cases. But the new bike lanes on WPL are class IV. It would be fun watching the people parking there having to climb over a K rail to get to the curb. Also what ever happened to the MS4 and street sweeping requirements? These curb-side bike lanes that reduce lanes and parking don’t allow for street sweeping.

Can’t wait to see what makes it into the budget list from groups that represent broader interests, it’s running out of space.

Also I’d love to learn more about this commenter’s “focus group” used in developing the Councilmember’s budget priorities.


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