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