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Conventional Bike Lanes Left These Cities Wanting More

A case is made in the Orange County, California, city of Garden Grove for protected bike lanes. And a new protected bike lane opens in Southern California's bike infrastructure capital, Long Beach.
August 15, 2016, 10am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Jorge Salcedo

Good news for walkers and cyclists in Orange County, CaliforniaAfter years of seeing bike and pedestrian funding left unused, the Orange County Transportation Authority "awarded about $19.5 million to six Orange County cities and the county for bicycle and pedestrian mobility projects," reports Erika Aguilar for KPCC, Southern California Public Radio. "It had double the number of project pitches and funding requests." [Listen here.]

The money comes from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program, [aka CMAQ] which provides funding for projects that meet the Clean Air Act requirements.

Garden Grove, fifth largest of the 34 cities in the county, "received $1.1 million from OCTA to make improvements," notes Aguilar. But is designating bike lines with white stripes and bike icons on the right shoulder of existing roadways enough?

Data shows that "the city's existing bike lanes are under-utilized," reports Aguilar.

The city counted bicyclists last September and in the report, released in June, found the majority rode on the sidewalk. A full 40 percent chose to ride on the sidewalk even when bike lanes were present. 

Byron Von Korper, owner of Papa Wheelie Bicycles in Garden Grove, said the city "needs to take a page from the city of Long Beach where some bike lanes are separated from vehicle traffic, have physical barriers from the street, and their own traffic signals," adds Aguilar.

The comparison to the second most populous city in Los Angeles County is a good one. According to an April 2011 Streetsblog LA article by Joe Linton, "Long Beach is Southern California’s undisputed leader in innovative infrastructure for safe and convenient bicycling." That month the city "unveil(ed) the first genuine protected bike lane [running on Third Street and Broadway] west of New York City."

On Thursday, the city celebrated the opening of the Artesia protected bike lane, reports Linton.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia (center) and Vice Mayor Rex Richardson (left, white shirt) tour the new Artesia Blvd protected bike lanes. Photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A. [Permission given.].

The lanes are parking-protected, and feature green plastic reflective bollards, rubber curbs, and intermittent green pavement markings.

Note the photo with temporary signage directing where motorists should park and where cyclists should ride in the parking-protected bike lanes.

Notably absent are bicycle traffic signals. Linton explains:

 At approaches to intersections and at bus stops, the protection drops and there is a merge zone marked with dashed green pavement. (Not dropping the protection would require relatively expensive bikeway signals, similar to Long Beach’s Broadway/Third couplet.)

The event highlighted Long Beach Bike Share which began operation on March 19, 2015.

Finally, the transition in bike planning in Orange County, going from undersubscribed to oversubscribed, reflects what was the topic of a "post peak car" discussion (posted Saturdayamong transportation experts on the future of planning in urban centers.

"The push for more bike infrastructure comes with Orange County's transition from a bedroom community to a dense urban environment," notes Aguilar.

OCTA awarded Santa Ana, the county seat and second most populous city after Anaheim, "$4.4 million in funding for three projects that will add protected or buffered bike lanes," adds Aguilar.

Hat tip to AASHTO Daily Transportation Update.

Full Story:
Published on Thursday, August 11, 2016 in KPCC
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