Victory on Vaquero

San Clemente pushed past another obstacle to Complete Streets implementation last night when City Council voted 3:2 to repave and restripe Vaquero, a 56′ wide connector currently featuring a 12′ painted median residents had insisted provided a necessary refuge from speeding traffic which plagues their neighborhood.

Vaquero, February 2014. Eliminating the painted median will slow motor traffic, and allow modern bike lanes and will actually facilitate driveway access. What’s not to love?

The median was installed at resident pleading by a previous traffic engineer; rather than slow down speeding traffic it pushed motorists toward the right hand edge where a substandard bike lane forced cyclists into the travel lane at every parked car.

The median was a “warm blanket” for residents who emotionally defended it at the meeting. Councilmen Chris Hamm and Jim Evert led the majority toward sanity with Mayor Tim Brown swinging the vote. We’ve more work to do convincing citizens and electeds that 99% motorist mode share does NOT mean 99% of the consideration must go to cars. That ain’t Complete Streets.

Elimination of the median– which served primarily as a convenient place for residents to turn left into their driveways– allows for buffered bike lanes, narrowed travel lanes, and still allows plenty of on-street parking neighbors wanted. Left turn pockets at critical intersections will remain in a final plan.

San Clemente Bases Loaded, Poised for Home Run on El Camino Real

San Clemente’s Planning Commission last night approved the most bicycle friendly highway design in Orange County.

Cross section of El Camino Real (PCH) in San Clemente shows, Metrolink train, pedestrian on Multi-use path, south- and north-bound bicyclists on Multi-use path, landscaped divider, south-bound cyclist in the Bike Lane, 10′ car lane, 3′ median, 10′ car lane, northbound cyclist in the Bike Lane, and pedestrian on the sidewalk. Complete Street, indeed!

Old Hwy 101,a.k.a. Pacific Coast Highway, was turned over to the city by Caltrans after the I-5 freeway was built. Called El Camino Real, it has languished as a 4-lane, then 3-lane, and now down to to 2-lane  arterial. Over the years it’s had bike lanes of various widths and sidewalks some places. But always motorists have treated it like a full speed alternative to the freeway.

In a year or so that will end. A model Complete Street rebuilding will add a Class 1 Bike Way– that is, a multi-user paved path– to the ocean side of the road, and extend a sidewalk the full length on the inland side. The travel lanes, reduced to 10 feet in width, will slow motor traffic and Class 2 Bike Lanes from 5 to 8 feet wide will run both ways.

The multi-use trail is essential because San Clemente’s popular Beach Trail attracts many times the pedestrian and casual bicycle traffic that was expected. And most of the thousands of users expect a similar amenity to connect to Dana Point. Runners, sight-seers, stroller pushers, beach cruisers, and family bikers all want a trail separated from motor traffic. The city expects high volumes on the new trail, especially on weekends, holidays, and busy summer afternoons.

Class 2 Bike Lanes are intended to attract higher speed cyclists, singly or in peletons, which are the single largest non-motorized group on El Camino Real today.

Funding was achieved through a combination of Federal and State monies and the design phase has take a year. The effort has been sheperded by the city’s Traffic Planning Manager, Tom Frank with copious input from Pedal’s Brenda Miller, and local bicycle advocates including OCBC Director, Pete van Nuys.

 

Road and Trail Closures in South County on 9/23/12

As a public safety message reminder from yesterday’s OC Register regarding road closures in the south county:

The following roads and trails will be closed to the public between the hours of 06:00 thru 13:00:

  • San Juan Creek Bike Trail  – closed between Doheny State Beach and Calle Arroyo
  • La Novia Avenue  – closed between San Juan Creek Road and Calle Arroyo

Also being closed from 06:30 to 09:30 is: Northbound La Pata Avenue

Ortega Highway, traffic will be reduced to one lane between Avenida Siega and Antonio Parkway from 6:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The Eastbound Ortega Highway from Antonio Parkway to El Cariso Village will be closed from 06:30 to 12:30.

Not mentioned from the Register is that there was/is signage through Doheny Beach and Campground as well as the protected bike lane from Beach to Capistrano indicating that that they also will be closed until 16:00.

If you’re trying to get some miles in for the OC Gran Fondo, ride elsewhere, or take PCH straight through Dana Point and into San Clemente. Marguerite to Avery to  Camino Capistrano to Del Obispo will get you there from the inland county, or you could take Marguerite all the way to Ortega to work your way through traffic to Del Obispo.

If you go out on PCH the problem will be on the return if the protected area is still closed because your access to Harbor is cutoff unless you take the sidewalk from Palisades / Beach, or ride the on ramp (watch for traffic coming from the right at the gore point) back onto PCH. Or, you could have a real workout and take a left at the dreaded Stonehill and take it through the rollies to Niguel, or take the easy way by turning left on Del Obispo (which turns into Harbor after crossing PCH) so you have the option of climbing PCH, Golden Lantern, or for extra bonus points, Cove.

We earlier looked at both websites for the City of Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano for guidance regarding closures and found nothing posted at the time. We are concerned because the current closures differ materially from the “strongly discourage” language used previously as can be seen in our original post about the event here. Each City referred our inquiry to the promoter, who assures us that:

“We have worked diligently with all agencies & cities to obtain permits for the use of trails, streets and a highway and to provide comprehensive advanced notification to the residents of Dana Point & San Juan Capistrano (and beyond).”

..so maybe we’re getting worked up over nothing because we didn’t get the memo.

Plan your routes carefully – it looks like a warm weekend and all the popular and safe southern routes are out of play this Sunday.

Saturday be aware of car parking and extra traffic at Trestles for the Surfing Championship.

Finally, the injured rider from last Thursday the 13th was registered to be in Sunday’s Tri, We’ve  asked that her entrance fee be refunded from the promoter. We’ll let you know his response when we receive it.

New Developments in South OC

While coming down Antonio towards Ortega the following scenes took my breath away. Welcome to progress! Those “little trucks” in the distance all lined up are actually huge earth-movers, and they are moving a lot of it!

 Movin' Mountains
 Bridge  Add a Lane

What you are looking at is phase1 of  The Ranch Plan being built on land owned by the Rancho Mission Viejo Company, and the start of construction of what will be 14,000 additional homes in the area. This particular area will be known as Sendero*, a mix of 940 homes, 200 apartments, and a 10-acre retail plaza that’s all scheduled to open next summer (2013).

Welcome Home

Will a bike lane go through it?

Please note there is a new traffic light right at the “sweet spot” on the downhill that will serve as an entrance to this new community.

The Ranch Plan will consist of:

  • Nine separate areas of development, called “villages,” stretching from the border of Camp Pendleton Marine Base to the 241 Toll Road.
  • 23,000 acres of land, 17,000 acres undeveloped and dedicated to species protection, cattle-grazing and citrus farming.
  • 14,000 homes meant for a variety of residents, including senior communities.

On the other side of Ortega, a 10 acre development proposal by Shea Homes is being wrangled through the system. With the requested doubling of homes at the Great Park, the proposed development in Santiago Canyon, Rancho Capistrano, the new developments in Lake Forest and San Clemente, enjoy the “back county” rides while you can.

Even though the Ortega highway has been “widened” (except for bikes), one wonders if it’s enough to support the anticipated traffic load, and if not, how soon will the toll road happily take all these paying customers to the beach? Since the toll road is creeping south to end (for now) at Cow Camp Road at Ortega, pressure to complete and connect the toll road to the 5 will build as new residents make their voices heard. La Pata will also get attention (and probably pavement) to fill the open space gap between San Clemente and San Juan.

We suggest improving and extending the San Juan Creek Bike Trail to La Pata to provide a means for all the new residents to ride their bikes to the beach, and when La Pata is completed (with buffered bike lanes?), a direct means to travel to and from San Clemente. With these last build outs, and knowing that 40% of urban travel is 2 miles or less, and  90% of those trips are by car, it just makes sense to incorporate cycling facilities and infrastructure as these new communities are literally built out “from the ground up”.

*sendero: 1) a trodden path, (2) evidence pointing to a possible solution