Peters Canyon Progress? – maybe

We owe readers an update on the effort to save the long-planned Class 1 trail through the Peters Canyon drainage. Here’s a synopsis to date:

While road cyclists have been traversing the Irvine Ranch roads through the canyon since the 1960s– before the advent of mountain bikes– there was no mention of official access until Orange County Flood Control included the main dirt road and path in its plans to provide a paved Class 1 mult-use trail in the 1980s.

Pavement Ends, lower Peters Canyon.

Pavement Ends, lower Peters Canyon.

A few years ago Orange County Beaches and Parks took over most Class 1 trails, existing and planned, from Flood Control. And the plan for the Class 1 was included in that agency’s development of Peters Canyon Regional Park.

From the bicyclist perspective everything was fine until this spring when those plans came to light at public input meetings held by Parks. Immediately inflamatory articles appeared in neighborhood newpapers around the Park reflecting the fears of local walkers and equestrians that hoards of “high speed bicyclists” would be hurtling down the pavement “at 35 mph.”

“Don’t pave Peters Canyon,” and “let them ride on Jamboree” seemed the sentiment of those opposing the multi-use trail.


Private park access for a privileged few.

While such statements are NIMBY and bigoted, Peters Canyon’s value as an island of undeveloped land in a sea of suburbia cannot be denied. While a Regional Park, the majority of users come from the surrounding communities, many walking in from public parking areas or via private trails from adjacent gated neighborhoods.

The Park’s dusty trails are well trampled, some quite eroded by heavy use. And while the whine of gardeners’ leaf blowers and mowers, the coming and going of residents’ cars on the adjacent road belies any “wilderness” claims, the Park is for the most part tranquil. The northern reservoir fosters a willow and sycamore nesting habitat for a variety of birds, spring and fall it provides stop-over for migrating waterfowl.

The southern end of the canyon is dominated by a catch basin bounded on the east by a paved service road. A dirt road continues north from there over the upper dam where it once connected with Jamboree Rd.

The plans Flood Control originally proposed amounted to rolling asphalt over that main service road/ foot path. Today that would not be acceptable. Whatever plan is ultimately adopted, the rural experience of the Park for pedestrians and equestrians has to be respected.


Viewshed encroachment and invasion of non-native plants betray claims of “wilderness” in Peters Canyon.

Until three weeks ago the only voices weighing in were from those groups. And it’s understandable that they don’t want to share. But mid July we attended the OCTA Board Meeting and spoke in defense of the Class 1 trail, which is part of that agency’s Master Plan of Commuter Bikeways. Supervisor Todd Spitzer seemed surprised that anyone would choose that time and place to defend county plans to connect the Mountains to the Sea Trail, but there we were.


Plenty of room for a Class 1 trail separated from pedestrians and equestrians, and screened by vegetation.

As a result on July 28 a small delegation representing voters and park users from outside this community got 40 minutes from Supervisor Todd Spitzer’s Policy Advisor, Carrie O’Malley. Bruce Bauer, attorney representing the “Heart of OC” bicycle loop, OCBC Board Member Brian Cox, and well known transportation advocate, Brenda Miller made a rational case for promoting non-motorized transportation alternatives, the value of connectivity to existing segments of the Peters Canyon Trail, and equity and access for diverse user groups of our Regional Parks.

Will it impress the Supervisor? Time will tell, but we are at last being heard. At this point that’s progress, indeed.


Peters Canyon petition needs your signature now.

See the the followPetersCanyonPetitioning post for full details, but suffice to say

if you don’t support this effort there will be no Peters Canyon Class 1 trail– through Peters Canyon!

Cyclists shut out of Peters Canyon

We were supposed to get a trail, instead we get the shaft.

For decades there’s been a paved, Class 1 trail slated for Peters Canyon Regional Park. That trail is a vital link in Orange County’s much touted Mountains to the Sea Trail connecting Back Bay with Santiago Canyon and beyond.

Everyone has been on board with this idea– County Flood Control, Beaches and Parks, and the Orange County Transportation Authority. The latter agency has included it in their Master Plan of Commuter Bikeways.

But now a bunch of ignorant NIMBYs in Orange Park Acres have pressured Supervisor Todd Spitzer and the staff of OC Parks into opposing the plan.

“Let ’em ride up Jamboree.”

“We don’t want those crazy bikers running 35 miles an hour through the Park.”

“They’ll ruin the park wilderness.”

Peters Canyon Park with existing trails. The Class 1 will share right of way through the center connecting Peters Canyon Dr. in the south with Canyon View in the north.

Peters Canyon Park with existing trails. The Class 1 will share right of way through the center connecting Peters Canyon Dr. in the south with Canyon View in the north.

Peters Canyon Regional Park is not a wilderness; it’s a former cow pasture adopted by County Flood Control as a catch basin. It’s also one of the last undeveloped chunks of OC that backs up to a lot of rich folks’ homes. And– surprise– they don’t want any more of us common folk using “their” park. It’s literally “not in my back yard” NIMBYism at its ugliest.

Cyclists do not ride 35 miles an hour anywhere on Class 1 trails.

Very few bicycle commuters use Jamboree regularly. And no one new to the idea of bicycle commuting will.

No, if Orange County is serious about encouraging Active Transportation then connecting the Peters Canyon Trail through its namesake Park is a must.

* New cyclists prefer riding away from auto traffic, but Jamboree is a major commuting route for motorists.

* The grade on Jamboree is more difficult and the summit is higher than the proposed route through the Park.

* The connection at the bottom of the Park is convenient to the existing portion of the Peters Canyon Trail toward Irvine. (That’s right, the trail has been planned for so long the existing sections are already called Peters Canyon Trail!)

* Connectivity is everything in bikeway planning; trails that go nowhere are useless.

* Failing to build this section wastes previous investment in existing sections.

But logic and myriad public benefit are lost on these clueless by politically connected NIMBYs.

We need your letters to Todd Spitzer and OC Beaches and Parks. And we need them NOW.  Tell ’em in your own words why Peters Canyon Class 1 trail must be built.

Todd Spitzer:

OC Parks


You Can Report Bad or Hostile Drivers

 You don’t have to let careless or belligerent drivers get away with it.  For years the Department of Motor Vehicles has had a program to get bad drivers off the road. Click on this form to open a PDF you can fill out to start the process.

Driver Complaint - thumbIntended primarily to report elderly, blind, or impaired drivers whose conditions have deteriorated to the point they may be a threat to others, this procedure causes the DMV contact the individual to prove they still qualify to be licensed to drive. Increasingly now, bicyclists are using this process to turn in hostile drivers, those who buzz-pass in violation of the 3-Foot Passing law, or make dangerous “right hook” or “left cross” turns which put them in jeopardy.

Rude, careless, and hostile often equals assault. Bicyclists are fully franchised users of the road. Motorists must respect your space, pass only when safe to do so, and at least show you the same courtesy they do other motorists.

Polite honks are one thing; long, drawn out horn use delivered at the last second or while sitting on your wheel is another. It’s pure intimidation, a threat delivered from a 4,000 lb. vehicle– it qualifies as “assault with a deadly weapon.”

The DMV Driver Reevaluation form covers that.

But will it get results? Lawyers familiar with the DMV’s process say it will, eventually. A driver properly identified on the form will be contacted and informed their behavior on the road warrants an interview. The process is as anonymous as the DMV can keep it– your identity should not be revealed but the nature of your complaint will be.

“Acts violent or aggressive while driving,” “Fails to react to traffic signals, other cars, or pedestrians, etc.,”  “Turns in front of other cars [or bicycles].” When you check these boxes and add additional comments on the form you should get a DMV officer’s attention.

And multiple complaints filed on the same driver will have real impact.

The driver’s name is not essential. Contrary to the asterisk on the form, a complete license plate number and vehicle description can trigger the review process. If you post video evidence of hostile or reckless behavior on line, be sure to include a link on the form. That’s another reason to pack a GoPro or Fly6 camera.

The California Association of Bicycle Organizations and committees within Caltrans are examining the form and reporting process to make it more responsive to pedestrians and bicyclists. We’ll update this column as news becomes available.