Daniel Smiechowski
Daniel Smiechowski on a bicycle in East County. Courtesy of the author

Last week, I was honored and privileged to be the guest speaker at the Triathlon Club of San Diego. I was the first member of this club at its inception in 1984. I love cycling, running and swimming, and became an Ironman triathlete in 1985 logging countless miles on local roads.

As a candidate for San Diego City Council in District 2, I vow to tell the truth — and the truth is that San Diego has too many unused and dangerous bike lanes. This must end.

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On just one stretch of a so-called protected bike lane in Clairemont at least one person has died and many critically injured. This is unconscionable.

These lanes for cyclists have become de rigueur in the sense of being politically correct. But they are unwise and unsafe.

Why doesn’t the city’s Climate Action Plan in regard to cycling consider that it takes significant human energy to pedal a two-wheeler? Have you ever heard that cycling is sometimes considered a sport of suffering? I’ve participated in hundreds of triathlons during the past 40 plus years and can attest to the suffering.

The truth is, San Diego residents are unlike those in Netherlands, China or India who rely on bicycles. We are rooted in a tough individualism. We want our cars and will not give up our cars.

What does our city’s history say about cycling on local roads? I spoke to my friend Bob Babbitt, a giant in this town’s triathlon community. Back in the late 1970s, cycling and running in San Diego were dominated by a select group of endurance athletes.

Unlike today, when thousands show up for a finisher’s medal, running and cycling had no entertainment value. It’s safe to say that many of today’s runners and cyclists park their cars as close to the starting line as possible.

But more significantly, back in the 1970s there were few fatalities from cycling and running. And it was rare to hear about hit-and-run drivers striking someone.  

The fact is, unless these new bike lanes are encased in concrete like a wartime bunker, we are in danger of bleeding the city’s liability fund. More residents will needlessly die and suffer serious injury. This must end.

I remain a man devoted to my sports of cycling and running. Except I must conscientiously speak truth to power about the danger of bike lanes.

Daniel Smiechowski is a candidate for San Diego City Council in District 2. He lives in Bay Ho.