Potential Bicycle Ban on Coast Highway in Dana Point

(Backdated to archive in the CABO blog)

The City of Dana Point is planning to install a two-way shared bicycle/pedestrian path on the west side of Coast Highway in Capistrano Beach between Palisades Drive and Camino Capistrano. Concrete barriers will be used to create a 10-foot wide shared path, with the shoulder width on Coast Highway reduced to make room for the sidepath.

The City of Dana Point has recently enacted a local ordinance prohibiting bicyclists and pedestrians from the travel lanes and the shoulder of this section of Coast Highway – both during the current construction and after the path is completed. (Update on 9/7/06 – The first reading was on 8/23/06, the second reading will be on 9/13/06, after which it would take effect if passed.) Bicyclists are expected to use the shared use path after construction is completed. The California Association of Bicycling Organizations (CABO) considers this an illegal infringement of bicyclists’ right to travel on the part of the city of Dana Point.

Recent collisions between motorists and bicyclists or pedestrians on this stretch of Coast Highway have received much attention in the press. But requiring bicyclists to use a path shared with pedestrians causes more problems than it solves, which is why Caltrans’ design standards recommend against sidepaths in lieu of roadway accommodations for bicyclists. Rather than forcing bicyclists off Coast Highway, the issue of motorist behavior and accountability needs to be addressed.

It is CABO’s position that the travel lane bicycling ban is illegal. The right for bicyclists to use public roads is granted by the state, and the state preempts local regulation unless specifically authorized. State law does allow localities to regulate shoulder use by bicyclists, so that part of the ordinance is valid. Ironically, with the Dana Point ordinance in place, a bicyclist would be allowed to use the travel lanes but prohibited from the shoulder. Such a situation on a two-lane road – even with a shoulder wide enough for a bicyclist to safely use – would legally require bicyclists to ride in the travel lanes thereby unnecessarily delaying motorists. This is apparently an unintended consequence of the city ordinance. (Update on 9/21/06 – CABO has been given a legal opinion that a shoulder ban would also be illegal.)

CABO wants the following actions from the City of Dana Point:

1. The City of Dana Point must repeal the illegal travel lanes bicycling ban and also repeal the unwise (though legal) shoulder bicycling ban.

2. The city must also review the planned road configuration prior to applying new striping. If the new road configuration does not retain adequate space for safe motorist passing of bicyclists, then the facility needs to be redesigned. Otherwise, bicyclists acting according to the law will have to operate in the travel lanes, delaying motor vehicle drivers. (Update on 9/7/06 – After construction, the road will have 10′ travel lanes and 6′ shoulders, which is considered acceptable to bicyclists.)

3. In addition, we suggest that the city work with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, the city’s Public Works Department, and local motoring, bicycling, and pedestrian advocacy groups to explore ways to improve safety on this section of Coast Highway for all legal users.

We urge local bicyclists, especially Dana Point residents, and bicycling clubs to contact the Dana Point city council as soon as possible, urging them to take action based on the three points above.

Written correspondence is the most effective and can be sent to the Mayor and City Council by fax at (949) 248-9920, or mailed to the following address:

City of Dana Point
33282 Golden Lantern
Dana Point, CA 92629

The Mayor and Council Members and e-mail addresses are as follows:

Mayor – Lara Anderson, landerson@danapoint.org
Mayor Pro Tem – Russ Chilton, rchilton@danapoint.org
Council Member – Wayne Rayfield, wrayfield@danapoint.org
Council Member – James V. Lacy, jlacy@danapoint.org
Council Member – Diane L. Harkey, dharkey@danapoint.org

More Information

Map with area of ban (Coast Highway between Palisades Dr. and Camino Capistrano):

News articles:

Correspondence from Dana Point Public Works to City Council:

The OCTA bike map shows this section of Coast Highway as having bike lanes:


#1: Looking southeast from end of existing sidepath on west side of Coast Highway. The SUV stopped at the light is on Beach Rd., and the other cars are traveling southbound on Coast Highway. Palisades Dr. is barely visible in the background.

#2: Southbound Coast Highway at Palisades Dr.

#3: Southbound Coast Highway south of Palisades

#4: Southbound Coast Highway, south of Palisades. Note the bike lane sign in the photo, off in the distance.

#5: Northbound Coast Highway at Camino Capistrano. Electric sign says “no bicycles or peds”. Note the bike lane sign in the photo.

#6: Closeup of the signage in photo #5. Electric sign indicates closure dates of 8-14-05 to 9-8-06.

#7: Northbound Coast Highway, same electric sign as photos #5 and #6

#8: Northbound Coast Highway, north of Camino Capistrano. Note the bike lane sign in the photo.

#9: Northbound Coast Highway at Palisades, looking up Palisades Drive (the signed alternate route)