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.

  • I’m sorry, but that bike lane, though it sucks at intersections, is freaking awesome. I could actually see a family tooling around on that with that large buffer to keep cars away.

  • It’s easy to be blindsided by something like that, considering that most people have no involvement in their local government, and pay no attention to what they do. I’m constantly amazed at the people who complain about some action their city, state or federal government has taken, but have no idea who their council members or legislators are.

    Too many Americans have little or no interest in the process, but complain loudly about the result.

  • joe

    I bet my Scion Xb can fit in those lanes just fine. I agree with the previous poster. Reseda Blvd is keeping its bike lanes and getting more. Why? Because the public/media got involved. I hope they keep this bike lane.

  • The traffic in the video is low. Are there motorists concerned that some driver may drive UNDER the speed limit and slow all the following traffic?

  • Ryan King

    I saw this the other day and was so excited! I just sent a comment to City Hall… hopefully they’ll get at least a little positive feedback.

  • After reading this story, I now want to go up to Santa Clarita to ride my Xootr kick scooter on these lanes. Mind you, this is the first I have been motivated to go up there since I last took classes at College of the Canyons seven years ago. (I drove. I had no idea until I arrived for my first day of class that I could have taken a Santa Clarita Transit commuter bus from Van Nuys back in the day. But then again, the whole areawas kind of hazardous for pedestrians so maybe I still would’ve driven.) Anyway, I hear there’s this thing called the Valencia Town Center. Maybe I’ll go there after Xooting around and spend this thing called MONEY. I’ll probably want some food, plus I need to buy a dress for a wedding.

  • I think these new paths will help. Santa Clarita has never really been very bike safe. I think these new, bolder lines will help keep traffic away from bikers and others who use these lanes. I have seen too often that cars drive into the bike lanes because the old ones were not clearly divided from traffic lanes.

  • Dave

    Most tax paying, law abiding, citizens like myself were under the fals assumption that government was spending our money prudently. Remember the “back in parking” in Newhall? How much money did that cost to fix?

    And to think that bypassing the original plan for Decoro (that did not include a motorist lane reduction) and moving forward with the secondary plan would go without notice is pure stupidity.

    During this time of fiscal crisis, it would be wise for the elected officials to remember who pays the bills and who works for whom. Special interests, including cyclists, are about to have a rude awakening to the will of the people.

    Ugh. Anyone that thinks a white painted line will keep motorists away from children on bicycles should have their head examined. Take your kids to the park or ride on one of the thirty other miles of “off road” bike paths we have paid for already.

  • There isn’t even that much goddamn traffic on the street. Are roads really that sacred that you can’t install this kind of bike lane? This is the kind of bike lane that would definitely get me on a bike.

  • StillSlippery

    Santa Clarita “Not Pedestrian or bike safe?” Do you even get out of you car and walk in Santa Clarita? The City already maintains 30 paseo bridges over streets for bikes and pedestrians. Check the map and as for bike trails check this map
    I ride these paseos and trails weekly with my kids and the foot and bike traffic is minimal at best. Decoro is busiest on the week days when the school (the Jr High and the Elementary school and starting and ending — about 8:00 AM and 3:00 PM, that road is a disaster). The traffic is moderate in the video but how many bikes do you see? I will not allow my kids to ride on that street at any time. They use the paseos insted (you can see one of the bridges in the video that crosses Decoro).

  • Joe

    Having just moved to the area from the midwest, I am happy to see a good discussion about alternative forms of *commuting*. I think that’s one of the keys here, commuting. Santa Clarita does have many beautiful bike trails, but they aren’t useful for commuting. To the people who mentioned parks and the Paseo system (which is great!), they are for recreational use/excercise. Cyclist who are commuting need ways to get to work, grocrey stores, etc and the parks and Paseo’s often don’t service that purpose. I bike along Rye Canyon Road to The Old Road and there are no bike paths, bike lanes, or even shoulders that get me from the East of the I-5 to the West side. The lack of lighting (even under the bridge) makes it dangerous.

    The lack of bike racks in the city is another issue. I talked to one grocrey store about it, and they said they wanted to but the owner of the land they were leasing wouldn’t let them!!


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