A man on a bicycle
A man on a bicycle path n City Heights. Courtesy SANDAG

To celebrate National Bike Month and highlight work to improve bicycling infrastructure, the city of San Diego is launching Better By Bike, an outreach and education effort aimed at encouraging more residents to consider commuting by bicycle. The City’s Climate Action Plan calls for an increase in commuter bicycling opportunities, especially in communities near major transit stops.

During the month of May, the city is teaming up with the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition for the Love to Ride 25-day bicycling challenge, with events like the Family Week ride and New Cyclist Week. People are urged to ride solo or with family members to comply with physical distancing guidelines; indoor rides on stationary bikes are also counted toward participation. Prize drawings will be held each week of the challenge.

“With so many San Diegans staying home to help stop the spread of COVID-19, more people are also hopping on their bikes for exercise and to run essential errands, or just to feel connected while maintaining distance,” said Chief Sustainability Officer Cody Hooven. “We hope this becomes a new habit for people as they realize you don’t need to be an athlete or expert cyclist to commute by bicycle. For your health and the health of our environment, it really is better to go by bike when you can.”

As a result of the statewide stay-at-home order, vehicle traffic on San Diego freeways and streets has decreased significantly. According to Caltrans, traffic volume on roads statewide is down an average of 35% compared to this time last year. Meanwhile, bicycling is up 55% over expected volumes during the first week of May in cities across the southwestern part of the United States, according to data posted by Eco-Counter.

Last month, in response to requests from residents, commuter bikeways within city limits were reopened, including the State Route 56 bikeway and the San Diego River bikeway connecting Mission Valley and Ocean Beach. The city recently launched a Slow Streets program to allow more space for residents who are walking or bicycling in their neighborhoods.

Work continues on several bicycle infrastructure improvement projects across San Diego aimed at making streets safer for all users. In the Downtown area, separated bikeways on J Street are being extended and both the Beech Street and C Street bikeways are being converted to two-way lanes. New bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure is being added at Euclid and Market streets in Encanto.

To sign up for the Love to Ride 25-day challenge, visit lovetoride.net/sandiegocounty. Participants who sign up and log their rides online may be eligible for prizes, including a new Brooklyn Bicycle cruiser, cycling gear and more. Share photos of your ride on social media using the hashtag #BetterByBike. Learn more about the city’s bicycling program by visiting sandiego.gov/bicycling.