What Makes San Diego Walkers Stop So Much?

San Diego's downtown street grid features smaller blocks than almost all other major U.S. cities. Small blocks mean more intersections, less distance between them, and a lot of interrupted bipedaling. Bill Adams reviews some potential fixes.

1 minute read

January 29, 2014, 2:00 PM PST

By wadams92101


San Diego

Nan Palmero / Flickr

Walking from point A to point B in downtown San Diego, whether for exercise or for a more utilitarian purpose, can be a frustrating experience, notes San Diego land use attorney and downtown denizen Bill Adams. 

"San Diego’s downtown street grid and its small blocks make continuous walking difficult, especially for people trying to go in a straight line. Jogging is even more difficult. The blocks are 200 by 300 feet. Among major cities, only Portland has smaller blocks at 200 by 200 feet. So depending on walking direction, pedestrians generally must stop every 200 or 300 feet to wait for traffic. . ."

"Today, the uniform small blocks and 75 foot wide one-way roads maximize the automobile’s domain and undermine the walkability of downtown. The problem is made even worse by San Diego’s $100 plus jaywalking tickets (about twice that of a parking ticket – another pro-auto bias?)."

However, small blocks and many intersections don't need to need to mean interrupted walking, notes Adams citing Portland. He reviews some of the methods tried elsewhere for suitability in San Diego, from shared space to pedestrian only streets. 

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