Report on San Diego’s First Ever CicloSDias

Early participants riding along 30th Street without fear of getting mangled by a car door

Early participants riding along 30th Street without fear of getting mangled by a car door

For years I heard a restaurateur friend of mine talk about how we could shut down portions of the road to cars and make something cool.  He’d mentioned how they did it in South America and Mexico City (turns out over 100 cities have done it).  Many of my bike-riding friends have been part of the chorus over the last several years demanding some major changes.  Some of those changes revolve around re-thinking the city’s Bike Master Plan (available at this site).  Other changes, like those championed by Move San Diego, are about a philosophical shift that makes not just biking, but all forms of transportation other than the car more of a focus in the San Diego region.

Happily, in 2012 during the last San Diego Mayor’s race, former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher became the first San Diego mayoral candidate I can remember to have an explicit bike plan as part of his platform for transforming the city.  Here is a write-up around that first plan.  One of the results of that plan was a sort of arms race towards being bike and transit friendly among the candidates in that race.  And along the way, during a debate hosted by a collection of interested alternative transportation advocates, then candidate Bob Filner announced that if elected he’d create a Cyclovia in San Diego.  Someone shouted from the audience ‘call it CicloSDias.’ I have no idea whether that attendee ran out and got the Trademark rights, but almost exactly a year later CicloSDias became a reality in parts of City Heights, North Park, South Park, Golden Hill, Grant Hill and Logan Heights.

Official Inaugural CicloSDias route map

Official Inaugural CicloSDias route map

The 30th Street corridor in San Diego – aptly tagged by one author as the nation’s best beer boulevard for the large number of craft beer-centric  small businesses – was transformed into a place where everything but the car came first for a day.

The What Next

There are plenty of posts out there about the day of the event (here, here and here), I’ve added a few pictures that relate to my own experience of that day.  I accidentally deleted the coolest photo – of my buddy and his son transforming a dead-end created by the street closure into a whiffle ball field – but it was an enjoyable time.

The best photo array I could find was on the BikeSD site here.

The real point of this post is to share what happened on October 21, 2013.  That’s when Ed Clancy, who had been former Mayor Filner’s point person on San Diego’s biking initiatives, released a detailed report about how much CicloSDias cost, how many people attended and other relevant facts.  This type of open access to information about a publicly funded event is really remarkable.

Happy to see data gathering at one of the busiest route intersections near the delicious Cardamom Bakery & Cafe at 30th/Upas

Happy to see data gathering at one of the busiest route intersections near the delicious Cardamom Bakery & Cafe at 30th/Upas

You’d think we’d always have information about how much a publicly subsidized event cost.  And about how many people showed up and how the event actually went.  I mean, how else could you possibly hope to make decisions about future events?  As a lover of non-car culture in urban areas, I was thrilled to see CicloSDias happen and would love to be able to close down the street more often.  As a taxpayer and citizen of this city, I am among those who wants to know the real truth about how big the public investment was and be able to make my own decisions about whether this is the right type of event for my community.

The report

Okay, enough prologue, here’s the report (by the way, San Diego Beer Week starts November 1st and is 10 days of really interesting events to help people understand the importance of craft beer on the San Diego region).

No, seriously, here it is:

–The Beginning of the Report–

San Diego’s first ever open streets celebration – 5.2 miles of urban neighborhoods and car-free for six hours on a Sunday – came together with advocates, community members, business owners, community group approvals and over 8,300 participants to mark the occasion.

Our event, called CicloSDias, combined traditional street fair elements with vendors placed along the route, businesses open, zumba classes, farmers market and merchandise for sale plus cyclist, walkers, skateboarders, strollers moving at low rates of speed along the route during the clear blue sky day.

The official kick-off including comments by the Mayors Chief of Staff, Councilmembers, County Supervisor, School principle of Cherokee Pointe Elementary School and bike/walk advocates. Multiple news organizations covered the event (media details in attachments)

The following highlights how the success of the inaugural event is measured, with an undertone on the extent of coordination required, plus funding, and this serves as a guideline for two similar events taking place in 2014 with more planned for 2015 and subsequent years.

1. Fundly: Crowd funding campaign that allowed individuals to donate any dollar amount with incentives for larger contributions that included bicycle use for the event and sponsorship credentials

Total raised: $10,500.00

2. Media, plus media junket: starting in Feb 2013 a press conference was held with the Mayor, Councilmember, advocates, business owners to announce the upcoming event and why this was taking place. The first CicloSDias was predicated on educating the public that open space can be used in a way never before imagined, as a urban park and in connecting neighborhoods

Press consultant: $9,000.00

3. Coordinated efforts with municipal agencies: City requirements were for traffic control, no-parking notices, police presence, insurance, re-routing of bus service, ambulatory care, and notifications on multiple occasions plus at set timelines per their requirements. Event coordinators doubled all required communication efforts with print advertising, media announcements, printed notifications, and included options for impacted residents with over 50% discounted daily parking rate at a managed structure or lot. Ambulatory and paramedics were in-kind contributions. Insurance was covered by the permit applicant. There were several churches along the route, at the expense of the permit holder additional parking considerations were enacted in order to not disrupt services.

Cost associated with “Print Materials”

4. Print materials: Design, flyers, postcards, “no-parking” pamphlets, stickers, “day of” signage, banners, and large posters were created and distributed over one month where a total of 30,000 combined recycled promotions were placed along the event route and within a 5 block radius of the same.

Total cost: $25,000.00

5. Community outreach meetings: The event was for City-wide participation, residents from Rancho Penasquitos to San Ysidro were invited to attend and briefings, with questions and answers, took place regularly from February to August at monthly community meetings, or upon request from groups.

Each City Council member and Supervisor were invited to participate, and asked for their support by way of putting information about the event in respective community communications.

No Cost

6. Participation in county-wide events for promotions: during Escondido’s hosting of the Tour of California to Earth Day in Balboa Park, opportunities were taken to engage and educate others on the mission of an open streets celebration. There were also 3 CicloSDias – Minis held at small parks around San Diego to help spread the word and raise awareness of the main event and why it’s important

As a result the City of La Mesa, Carlsbad, Coronado are moving interests forward in replicating the same.

7. Social Media: A website, Twitter, Facebook account(s) were created as lasting communications on all events related to CicloSDias. A savvy staffer was assigned to post regularly, update and communicate with sponsor mailing lists on progress for the event plus encourage participation.

8. Active Living Research report (sponsored by the California Endowment): The importance to have a tangible analysis and report for evaluation was devised to share with sponsors, engaged neighborhoods and community organizations as proof to the effectiveness of the occasion.

Total Cost: $22,000.00

9. Sponsors: DonorNation, Sullivan Solar, Kilroy Realty, California Endowment, San Diego Laborers, Rural Metro, Sempra Utilities, UA Local 230, Car2Go, KTU+A

DecoBike (pictured below), BID Council, ACE Parking.   

Deco Bike station on display in front of Blue Foot at 30th & Upas

Deco Bike station on display in front of Blue Foot at 30th & Upas

Special Mention: SD Chargers, Kaiser Permanente

Partners: Walk SD, Move SD, Urban Streets, Ivan Stewarts Electric bikes, Electra Bicycles, Contour Foundation, Merlin Web Hosting, Formigli USA, Great Streets SD, North Park Main Street Association, City Heights Community Development Council, Bike SD

10. Volunteers:

• Partner KTU+A, landscape architecture firm, created a polygon – population grid based on segments of walking distance of the route to help identify effected neighborhoods for literature distribution

• 120 volunteers were coordinated for crossing control, route assistance, and general questions throughout the day. They were provided with specifically colored t-shirts and  meals for their participation.

11. Additional Staff: The Volunteer Coordinator was tasked with amassing volunteers in support of this project and for shift assignments for the day of the event. Plus, organizing distribution of notices throughout neighborhoods leading up to the big day. The organizational leaders worked closely with a consultant on promotions and marketing for content, targeted outreach, message points coordination with media and support.

Volunteer Coordinator: $4,500.00

Promotions and marketing consultant: $15,000.00

Total Event costs: $75,000.000

Total raised: $55,000.00

In-kind valued at: $35,000

Ways to do this better, opportunities missed to make the next events a success:

Smart Phone application and map – adding additionally fun ways to track a day

“Day of” Maps – for ease of use guidance

SANDAG iCommute participation

Stronger Vol. Coordinator – more information distribution before and during event

Funding opportunities: County sponsored grants, Contributions from Private Foundations and other support make the event a success for all involved


Gretchen Kinney Newsom

“CicloSDias San Diego was a smashing success and I had a GREAT time! Kudos to San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, Move San Diego, WalkSanDiego, all the volunteers, and everyone else who made this event happen. With the company I work for, LeSar Development Consultants, I was honored to help with the #CicloSDias crowd-funding campaign pro-bono. I’m looking forward to CicloSDias becoming an annual event — hopefully coming to Ocean Beach next year!”

Stephan Vance

“Folks who live on 30th were so pleased with how the street changed without cars that they spent about an hour just sitting on the curb with their dog enjoying it.”

James Conor McDonald

“I have been telling my kids visiting from Ireland, that there is a bicycle revolution going on, and they can be part of it. CicloSDia was a great family oriented way of letting them experience the revolution.”

CA Energy  Upgrades:

“Today we drove to San Diego and rode in the inaugrial CicloSDias. Today we drove to San Diego and rode in the inaugural CicloSDias.  There was great music, plenty of wide open streets to ride in and only some occasional congestion. Click to see the ride:

Elena Rivellino – Sea Rocket Bistro

“Wow. Amazing day at Sea Rocket Bistro today for CicloSDias San Diego!! We had a super busy lunch service accompanied by some bluegrass tunes from the very dynamic and talented bluegrass musician Anna Levitt, followed by the rockin’ sounds of Viva Apollo (thanks to Amanda Portela and crew for that!!) Hopefully we will do it again next year and I won’t have to work it myself. Thanks to everyone who came out and shared the day with us.”

One of the primary goals of CicloSDias is to generate business and stimulate the local economy, particularly for the local small businesses aligning the
route while educating neighbors, commuters, tourists alike on shared spaced usage and ease of connectivity without cars.

This proved to be the case during CicloSDias, on August 11th, 2013 as hundreds of bikes could be seen parked in front of local shops, bars and restaurants and patios with outdoor dining we’re packed with happy, hungry and thirsty walkers, bikers and skaters taking a break.

Additionally, CicloSdias gave many small restaurants the opportunity to set up quick, tasty “grab and go” menu options and boost sales for the day: the weekly Logan Heights Farmers Market experienced a significantly busy day due to all the added event participants; parks had more visitors as well.

As CicloSDias grows in the coming years, it’s certain to be true also for small businesses along the routes of these fun, healthy and economically
stimulating open streets events

Proclamations for CicloSDias day were provided by: Councilmembers David Alvarez, Marti Emerald and County Supervisor Dave Roberts

Report was prepared by event organizers: SD County Bicycle Coalition, Moxie Event Marketing and The Bike Guy SD

–The end of the report–

If you happen to still be reading, I wanted to also share a couple more recent developments. In the months since, we’ve even seen SANDAG get into the bike game in a serious way, chipping in $200 Million (of our tax revenue – just in case people thought that money came from the ether).  Also, our City officials have taken a renewed interest in our Climate Action Plan, which is a terribly boring name that guarantees almost no one outside of City Hall will read it.   That is a shame, because it is the only document I can find within the City that actually attempts to create a target for long-range thinking about how we lay out or city.  You might be wondering what this has to do with any of the rest of the post, please keep reading a bit and I’ll tell you.

Of course we need to build and re-build roads and buildings and such.  But the CAP is, for the moment, the only plan I can find that says ‘here’s where we need to go, so let’s make our building and infrastructure choices based on how we get there.’  The impact of such a plan on making surface streets more accommodating and safe for bike travelers or *gasp* people on foot, is really not small.  There could be other similar planning tools that give us some anchor to think about our city’s growth, but I haven’t seen them.   Another fascinating development is the creation of a Downtown San Diego vision as part of the Imagine Downtown campaign.  I bring this up here because that effort – a combination of residents and businesses throughout the city sponsored in large part by the San Diego Foundation Center for Civic Engagement – arrived at many of the same places as the CAP.  It addresses making downtown more walkable and bikeable.  It addresses providing non-car alternatives for getting downtown residents up to great communities in Uptown and getting neighbors from those communities into downtown.  This business-friendly focus fits very nicely into the same framework as the environmentally friendly CAP focus.  See what I did there?  Business interests in attracting and retaining talent and making it easier to shop downtown neatly line up with environmental needs of our community! Kum-ba-ya, friends, Kum-ba-ya.

Obviously the devil will be in the details on the CAP, Imagine Downtown, the Community Plan updates in North Park and elsewhere, but this shift in focus around mobility in San Diego is a good thing.  It’s a recognition that what is right for our urban core is likely very different than what our friends way out in Scripps Ranch or Mira Mesa might want or need.  I’m just glad we are having the discussion and acting on that discussion.  Thanks Ed, the first San Diego CicloSDias was a hell of an event.

Thanks for stopping by and please remember that San Diego Beer Week – a celebration of the nation’s premier region for craft beer – runs from November 1 through November 10. There’s no time like the present to see what the fuss is all about.  Have a great day.

One thought on “Report on San Diego’s First Ever CicloSDias

  1. So, when and where will the next CycloSDias be? Pacific Beach? How about downtown San Diego; I’d love to see thousands of us enjoying bicycling Broadway to the Bay and around Gas Lamp.

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