The election is less than a week away. Americans have a choice between a) a president who has overseen notable transportation and land use innovations but failed to provide leadership when the national transportation bill could have been reformed, and b) a former governor who enacted a progressive, pro-smart-growth agenda but who has renounced those positions as a candidate.
So the San Diego mayoralty probably isn’t what’s keeping you up at night, glued to Nate Silver’s election forecasting. But it’s been a nasty and surprisingly close race between U.S. Rep. Bob Filner, a Democrat, and Republican City Council Member Carl DeMaio. According to some (admittedly confusing and poorly conducted) polls, it could go either way. So it may be reassuring to know that no matter who is elected mayor of San Diego, the victor says he will wholeheartedly support biking, walking, and sustainability.
Three San Diego active transportation organizations – Move San Diego, WalkSanDiego, and the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition – did an impressive job not only getting these candidates on the record, but getting them to spend an hour battling over who could be the walkingest, bikingest, livabilityest mayor San Diego had ever seen. (The debate they sponsored is available for your viewing pleasure here.)
Remember that according to one of San Diego’s members of Congress, non-automobile modes of transportation are “not feasible” here. (Side note: Rep. Duncan Hunter, who told me nearly two years ago that bicycling isn’t real transportation and highway building is enshrined in the constitution, just switched districts as a result of redistricting, and he now represents a far more urban portion of San Diego County. Perhaps he’ll be educated on active transportation by the great folks who hosted the mayor’s debate.)
But in this city where, according to Rep. Hunter, no one could ever possibly get around without a car, both major candidates fell all over themselves to prove that they would build the most bike lanes and bulb-outs.
Before a mayoral debate sponsored by the walking and biking groups last month, DeMaio released his bike plan for the city [PDF]. Filner said he was willing to “stipulate” that it’s a great plan – but he countered that DeMaio is a new kid on the sustainability block, whereas he’s been doing the work for years. DeMaio’s plan includes everything from pedestrian master planning to making San Diego “the most bike-friendly city in the world.” (During the debate, the candidates only agreed that it should be among the top 50 in the country.)