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Trail Planning

San Diego Regional Bike Plan Case Study

By: Rails-to-Trails-Conservancy CASE STUDY
February 17, 2024

Bayshore Bikeway | Photo by TrailLink user vikemaze

A Bicycle Network: Solving Complex, Interconnected Problems With a Simple, Interconnected Solution

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Project Details

Lead Authority: San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG)
Total Project Cost: $270,673,400
Funding Pledged to Date: $204,955,000

Federal: $32,000,000
State: $39,526,000
Local: $133,429,000

Shovel-Ready: Immediately
Type: Urban, suburban

Transformative Impact

Job Creation: An estimated 4,601 jobs directly1

Health Impact: Opportunities for increased physical activity; healthier air through a 10-million-pound reduction in carbon monoxide and 791,000-pound reduction in asthma-inducing nitrogen dioxide by 20302

Economic Impact: Enhanced traffic flow by switching an estimated 189,035 trips per weekday from motor vehicles to bicycles by 2030, reducing the need for costly road expansion projects3

Transportation Impact: Increase bicycling mode share from 2.7 percent to 7 percent by 20304

Other: Bicycling in the city currently reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 76 million pounds per year; by 2030, the network is estimated to reduce emissions by up to 307 million pounds per year.5

Project Description

As the San Diego region continues to grow, a robust, interconnected bicycle network will help solve a variety of complex, interconnected issues related to traffic congestion, air quality, carbon emissions and public health. The San Diego Regional Bicycle Plan proposes to develop, by 2050, a diverse system of connected bicycle corridors, related facilities and programs to make biking practical for more users. The Regional Early Action Program is accelerating this work by funding more than two dozen distinct projects in the next three years, worth over $270 million.

For San Diego, the economic and transportation benefits of the bicycle network are intertwined. An increase in bicycling would reduce traffic on the region’s typical transportation system and, thus, reduce the need for road expansion and improvement projects. Through the project, bicycle mode share for the region will rise from 2.7 percent to 7 percent and replace 189,035 car trips per weekday, improving traffic flow. As a result, money that would have been spent on an expensive road-widening project could be used elsewhere for the region’s well-being. Air quality would also improve significantly, with the region estimating that reductions in carbon monoxide and asthma-inducing nitrogen dioxide would equate to 10 million pounds per year and 791,000 pounds per year, respectively.

San Diego’s bike plan takes a self-help approach to funding the network through TransNet, a local half-cent sales tax that helps fund regional transportation projects. While the sales tax alleviates some of the need for funding, the addition of federal and state funds—on which the county also relies—would help accelerate the completion of the bicycle network before the proposed year of 2050.

The bike network is a critical step toward achieving the goals of San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan, which include not only facilitating transportation, but also supporting a sustainable and healthy region, a vibrant economy and an outstanding quality of life. The bike network will provide practical mobility options that provide economic benefits and increase public health to meet the goal of a thriving region.


1 Estimated at 17 jobs per $1 million spent, according to a study commissioned by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) on American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) job creation; jobs in terms of full-time equivalents
2 Riding to 2050: San Diego Regional Bike Plan, San Diego County, 2010, available at:
5 Ibid.

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