Welcome to Viva-city and Downtown San Diego
Sandra Simmons

Life in the City

-by Sandra Simmons


As surface parking lots give way to new development, we need to give value not to the much-loved car, but instead to people who live, work, and visit Downtown.

Right now we have the opportunity to turn the clock back by creating tree-lined “Main Streets” in our neighborhoods with narrow streets, wide sidewalks, delightfully landscaped medians and pedestrian priority.

However, giving the city back to its people does have obvious ramifications. People own cars so they can travel with flexibility and speed; we want to go where we want, when we want, without any delays. We value our privacy and security. People shouldn’t be punished for driving, but provided with better and more unique options.

Can we make it more appealing to use public transportation for moving around Downtown? Can it be easier, quicker, and cheaper to “park and ride” than to hunt for a parking space.

San Francisco has cable cars, Bangkok has noisy three-wheel tuk tuks, Venice has gondolas, New York has taxis, yet none of these options work for Downtown. We need a creative “Circulator” to brand our urban community.

Our unique answer isn’t the annoying pedicabs hawking for rides, weaving in and out of traffic and pedestrian sidewalks.

The “Circulator” needs to be free and frequent. Many small “Circulators” could connect every block, encouraging people to park their car once and ride around Downtown.

For those of us living here, we need separate trails solely for bicycling. These bike trails could also serve scooters, electric bikes, and Segways.

To further take back our streets, more grand and expensive solutions could also be implemented, such as underground rail transit, and a transit mall on C Street for the existing trolley, pulling buses off Broadway.

Does our “Circulator” take on the form of a people mover straight out of the Jetsons cartoon? Smaller electrical buses? Slick urban streetcars running on solar power?

I mull over…If the “Circulator” was free, would cars be out of circulation?

Knowing I wouldn’t be on time for a meeting on 12th & Imperial, I decided to hop on the trolley. Much to my surprise, my neighbor Gary Smith (Park Row) was boarding the trolley for the same meeting. He advised me to buy a “Quick Trip,” costing only $1.25 for 2 hours.

Gary London (Rowhomes on F Street) has quick and quiet alternative transportation: a Segway. Gary can be seen around town riding to and from, into elevators and even board meetings. Recently, at Larry and Carole Marshall’s (Park Place) house party, Gary showed Tara Rhodes (Park Row) how easy it is.

Gayleen Nichols (City Walk) pedals her new beach cruiser bicycle to work.

A growing number of new Downtowners find the best means of movement are their feet: Lisa Feren (Treo@Kettner), Jacqueline Cesaroni (Archstone), Mary Singh (Village Walk), Art Racicot and Tammy Robbins (City Walk).

If cars were superseded, all of our streets would naturally become urban trails.

- September 4, 2003

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