County Plans To Expand Number Of Bikeways In Unincorporated Area
By Leon Worden/SCVNEWS.com
The unincorporated Santa Clarita Valley would become a whole lot more “bike friendly” if the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approves a plan Tuesday that would add 158 miles of bikeways in the SCV over the next 20 years.
The new Bicycle Master Plan would replace the county’s 1975 plan and add 832 miles of new bike lanes, paths and routes in unincorporated county areas at a cost of $331 million, to be funded partially through future state transportation grants.
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While the city of Santa Clarita already maintains an extensive network of bike routes inside city limits, the county maintains just 3.3 miles of bikeways, all in Stevenson Ranch.
The new plan would dramatically change the equation with a 48-fold increase in the number of county-maintained bikeway miles – with new bikeways along the entire stretch of The Old Road from the 5/14 split to Castaic, as well as major routes within Castaic (including Hillcrest Parkway), Stevenson Ranch (including Pico Canyon Road) and Agua Dulce (including Escondido Canyon and Davenport roads).
Under the plan, “The proposed network would add approximately 158 miles to the existing 3.3 miles of bicycle facility across the unincorporated parts of the planning area — including 108 miles of proposed Class III. A vast majority of the 108 miles of Class III bikeways are proposed along the shoulders of rural roadways. The shoulders of rural Class III bikeways provide the same physical separation as bike lanes do, while maintaining the legality of the shoulder as space for emergency vehicle stops. Class IIIs on shoulders do not require curb and gutter, which helps preserve the rural characteristic of the roadway.”
The plan notes that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority “identified four key gaps in the 2006 Metro Bicycle Transportation Strategic Plan,” including The Old Road along Interstate 5, Highway 126 from Santa Clarita to the Ventura County Line, the area along Castaic and San Francisquito creeks between Santa Clarita and Castaic Lake, and Sierra Highway between The Old Road and the Soledad Canyon bike path.
Of those, only Sierra Highway isn’t designated for new bikeways, although unincorporated Placerita Canyon Road east of the 14 Freeway would see a new Class III bike route. The Old Road would get Class III bike lanes while Highway 126 and Castaic Creek would get Class I bike paths.
“Providing connections to the city of Santa Clarita, which the unincorporated area surrounds completely, is an essential consideration for improving the bicycling connectivity in the unincorporated portions of the Santa Clarita Valley Planning Area,” the planning document states.
It also takes into account the number of traffic collisions involving bicycles from 2004 to 2009 and notes that 38 bicycle collisions were reported in the unincorporated SCV over the 5-year period. Of those, four occurred at the intersection of Sierra Highway and Sandy Drive (Jake’s Way area), representing “the greatest number of crashes at a single location in the planning area.” That location would see new Class II bike lanes.