2013-11-14 / Community

Calabasas gets into gear with bike plan

By Sylvie Belmond

FAST TRACK—A cyclist rides down Agoura Road in Calabasas. The city’s updating its bicycle master plan. 
RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers FAST TRACK—A cyclist rides down Agoura Road in Calabasas. The city’s updating its bicycle master plan. RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers The Calabasas City Council approved a plan last month that will guide the development of more walking and cycling paths in the city over the next five years.

The plan will offer a citywide strategy for improving routes and safety for bike paths, sidewalks and trails. It also includes suggestions for educating the public about cyclist and pedestrian safety.

It’s important for everyone to share the road and obey traffic rules, city officials said.

“Streets aren’t just for cars, they’re for everybody,” said Ryan Thompson, assistant transportation planner for Calabasas.

As a gateway to the Santa Monica Mountains, Calabasas attracts many pedestrians and bicyclists.

But while walking and cycling are popular recreational activities for all age groups, driving is still the main mode of transportation in Calabasas.

The city’s first bicycle master plan, created in 1996, outlined on- and off-street bike paths and designated routes, and sought to create a complete network of bike paths for recreational and commuter use.

The document was updated in 2008, but it did not include provisions for pedestrians in Calabasas.

In 2011, the city worked with an advisory group, consisting of residents and city commissioners, to improve transportation options for cyclists and pedestrians and to address safety concerns through educational programs.

“One of our goals with this plan is to become a bicyclefriendly community,” Thompson said.

Once complete, the network of walking and biking paths will provide safe, easy and convenient access to all areas of the community, such as schools, places of employment and shopping centers, said a report created by Fehr & Peers Transportation Consultants.

The goal is to reduce dependence on cars while recognizing the needs of seniors, youths and people with disabilities.

“This is a great road map,” Councilmember Mary Sue Maurer said of the plan.

The new master plan will allow the city to qualify for more state and regional funding.

Calabasas has already received funding to install bike lanes, and a sidewalk connecting Old Topanga Road and Mulholland Highway.

Bike paths come in three classifi cations.

Class I paths are separated from motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic; Class II on-street bike lanes are defined by a painted stripe; and Class III bike routes are represented only by posted route signs.

The city will build Class II bike lanes on Parkway Calabasas, from Calabasas Road to Park Granada, and on Park Ora, Park Sienna and Park Capri from Old Topanga to Park Granada.

Improvements to the bike network are also planned for Parkmor Road from Las Virgenes Road to Alizia Canyon Drive, and at the intersections of Park Sienna with Park Ora and Park Capri, where cyclists will be given a safe place to stop.

In addition to filling gaps in the local bike system and improving access to areas around town, the city will install equipment to detect the presence of bicycles at some intersections. Bicycle parking will also be required at major destinations in Old Town Calabasas.

Commercial and industrial facilities exceeding 50,000 square feet may be required to provide lockers, showers and changing rooms for employees who cycle or walk to work.

The improvements will be made in phases as money becomes available.

Sharing the road

According to the report, between 2007 and 2011, 10 bicyclerelated collisions occurred in Calabasas. Injuries were reported in all the crashes, but there were no deaths.

Agoura Hills resident Mike Giroux, who rides his bike about 100 miles per week throughout the Conejo Valley and Calabasas, said safety is the No. 1 concern for cyclists.

“It’s a question of awareness. Granted, sometimes riders take too much space, but drivers have to be aware that cyclists have a right to be on the street as much as cars,” said Giroux, recalling a recent incident involving an aggressive driver on Agoura Road.

“Sometimes they honk at us and sometimes they ride very close to us to make a point. One bad move and you’re dead,” Giroux said, adding that many cyclists choose to ride in groups because they feel more protected that way.

He said anyone who sees aggressive drivers should report them to authorities, who in turn should prosecute them for endangering others.

But the courtesy goes both ways, said Calabasas resident Allan Klein in a letter to the editor in last week’s Acorn. Klein said that “large packs of bicyclists” disregard traffic rules and impede traffic on high-speed mountain roads such as Mulholland Highway.

“If bicyclists are cited and fined for unlawful and dangerous riding, more of them will take note and start following the laws designed for their safety, just like automobile drivers,” Klein wrote.

According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, more than 100 people are killed and thousands more are injured in bicycle collisions throughout California each year.

Some bicycle-related crashes are connected to the cyclist’s behavior, while others are due to the motorist’s lack of attention, the DMV states.

Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists, and are subject to the same rules and regulations. But drivers are also required to respect the right of way of bicyclists who are entitled to be on the road.

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