Beyond cars: complete streets, the San Diego version

We’ve been having conversations about complete streets around the Advocate offices for some time, so when my husband and I visited San Diego, Calif., recently and stayed in the Gaslamp Quarter, I took note.

The quarter wasn’t always the shopping, restaurant, entertainment destination that it is now. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, San Diegans (San Diegites? San Diagons? Thank you, Ron Burgundy) banded together to revitalize the quarter, which included developing design guidelines to preserve the district’s historical architecture and aesthetic. Fast forward 30 years later, and the effort seems fairly successful. My husband and I stayed in a hotel near the quarter, didn’t rent a car, and never missed having one. We walked to every restaurant, shop and venue we wanted to visit.

Read more after the jump.

The streets in the quarter are designed for pedestrians and drivers to share. This photo shows a wide sidewalk with enough room for restaurants to extend their patios on the left and pedestrians to pass by on the right. The trees planted on the right also make for a kind of buffer between the pedestrians and the cars.

One downside of this design: Though the photo shows a bicycle parked on the sidewalk, I didn’t see many cyclists in the quarter. Between the patio seating, pedestrians and trees, there isn’t much room for them on the sidewalks, and bike lanes weren’t designed into the streets.

Stay tuned to Back Talk for more on San Diego’s efforts to make the Gaslamp Quarter pedestrian friendly, including diagonal crosswalks.

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