Santa Clarita Puts Down Bike Lanes, Some Residents Not Happy

The bike lane looks good to me. Video via SCV Talk

In June of 2008, the City of Santa Clarita passed a Non-Motorized Transportation Plan, basically a Bike Master Plan and Pedestrian Master Plan rolled into one document, by a 5-0 vote.  Cyclists were happy, pedestrians were happy and city staff was able to take one giant progressive step forward.

Fast forward a year, and we’ll see that implementation of that plan has proven rocky.   Our friends at SCV Talk, consider it the LAist of Santa Clarita, had barely finished celebrating the removal of travel lanes on a formerly four lane-road to put in bike lanes before residents stormed the city council, the same council that unanimously backed the plan on paper, and complained about being "blind-sided" by the new bike lanes. The Signal gives examples of some of the complaints:

“The lane now is so narrow, my minivan won’t fit,” said Heide
Prinsze, 52, who drives along the street daily to shuttle her kids to
and from school. “It’s a nightmarish road as is. We don’t need bike
lanes that no one would use.”

“I feel like I’ve been ambushed,” said Prinsze, who has lived in Valencia for 12 years.

I could mention that there was extensive outreach on the Non-Motorized Transportation Plan, or that it must be a large mini-van to fit into the car travel lane in the picture above; but I digress.

For its part, the City Council has listened to the complaints of all those who took the time to drive to City Hall and complain and is now pushing a compromise solution.  By removing the buffer and narrowing the bike lane to five-feet, the Council believes they can restore the road to its former four lane glory and maintain the bike lane.  How many people would be willing to bike on that particular road is another matter.

At SCV Talk, writer Jeff Wilson has done a great job trying to tone down the controversy by encouraging people to ditch the hyperbole (read: gross exagerations) and discuss the issue civily.  He also breaks down how much of the hyperbole is based in misinformation and ill-informed perceptions.

Of course, taking the bike lane off the road isn’t off the table yet.  While the Council has ordered another round of public outreach, there is also discussion of another special meeting at City Hall.  I’ll keep monitoring SCV Talk for more news and will report it here.

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