Not Much Space for Bike or Ped. Projects in LA-OC Study

Coyote Creek Trail Vicki and Chuck Rogers_1.jpg
The Coyote Creek Bike Trail, Our Only Hope to Improve Connectivity Between the OC and LA

Back in July of last year, Metro and the Orange County Transit Authority (OCTA) joined forces to draft a joint study on how to improve mobility between the counties. The final report isn’t due until this summer, but the draft report has a list of interesting projects but there’s a glaring hole in the overall plan. The plan calls for dozens of new projects to improve bus flow between the counties, nine projects to increase highway capacity but only one bike project.

It seems like I’m forgetting something. Oh wait, it wasn’t me. There are no pedestrian improvement projects listed in the report.

Now there is a lot of positive language, but the challenge bike and pedestrian advocates now face is how to get agencies such as Metro and OCTA to move from the "flowery language" phase of looking at bike projects to actually funding the bike trail and sidewalk projects that we need.

For example, on page eight of Attachment B the report authors recognize the problem but can only come up with that one project as a potential solution.

The existing network of bikeways serving the study area is in need of better connections across the county line and more continuous corridors that link major activity centers. The presence of bikeway facilities varies on a city by city basis, creating gaps and reducing the ability of bicycle commuters to make longer regional trips. The Coyote Creek Bikeway is a good candidate for improvement to connect bikeways in the study area.

To be honest, I’ve never personally ridden along the Coyote Creek Trail but it looks more like a recreational one than one for commuters or for transportation in general.  The fifteen mile multi-use trail is popular with cyclists, hikers and rollerbladers and runs parallel to the river connecting the two counties. 

The nine highway capacity expansion projects are also a concern. The rest of the country is catching on that you can’t build more highway lanes to get out of congestion, but darnit Southern California seems determined to try. The real kicker here is that in a long range document like this one, the sunset year is 2030, any capacity that we add to highways in the next couple of years will be filled with cars by the time we reach the sunset year.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t some good projects in the report. It’s encouraging to see Orange and LA Counties working together to increase bus access between the counties, but if there’s an unwritten rule that all good transit projects need to be accompanied by billions in spending on highway projects, as is suggested by this document and Metro’s Long Range Plan; then we’re farther back in the struggle to free ourselves from the clutches of car culture than politicians’ rhetoric would lead us to believe.

Image: Vicki and Chuck Rogers/Flickr

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