Below are comments from the California Association of Bicycling Organizations (CABO) on the RRTAC July 19 agenda items relating to the Santa Ana River Trail (SART):
1. First and foremost, we applaud the county’s efforts in reaching out to and working with the cycling community to come up with a SART detour well in advance of the widening of the 91 freeway. Furthermore, we appreciate the county’s commitment to come with a long term solution that will most likely be more attractive than the original concept of a bikeway adjacent to the freeway.
2. When cyclist access to State Route 91 was severed due to conversion to a freeway in the 1970s, the section of the SART between Gypsum Canyon and Green River was constructed to provide an alternate transportational route for cyclists in accordance with Streets and Highways Code Section 888. This section reads as follows:
888. The department shall not construct a state highway as a freeway that will result in the severance or destruction of an existing major route for nonmotorized transportation traffic and light motorcycles, unless it provides a reasonable, safe, and convenient alternate route or such a route exists.
Since this section of the SART replaced 24/7 road access, 24/7 access MUST be preserved on this section of the SART, irrespective of other policies regulating bikeway hours of operation. Currently there are posted detour signs posted with limited hours, which is unacceptable.
3. Several signs with a cyclist speed limit of 10 mph have been appearing at various entrances of the SART. Cyclist speed on bikeways is governed under county ordinance as follows:
Sec. 2-5-43. – Bicycles. Unsafe Operation. No person shall operate a bicycle in any manner that endangers any person or animal or at a speed that is greater than is reasonable or prudent, having due regard for other users and the surface, width, and grade of the road or trail, and in no event in excess of ten (10) miles per hour, unless a greater speed is posted.
While a 10 mph speed limit might not be unreasonable in a park or beach setting, it is unnecessarily restrictive on a facility such as the SART, where there are many portions with excellent sightlines where cyclists can travel much faster without endangering themselves or other users. We suggest that the county remove the latter clause in 2-5-43 setting a speed limit. The remainder of the ordinance text already sufficiently addresses the need for cyclists to reduce speed if necessary due to trail conditions and the presence of other users.
In any event, Section 2-5-43 is under “Division 5 – Parks, Beaches, and Recreational Areas” in the county code and only applies to those areas. This speed limit ordinance should not apply to the section of the SART between Gypsum Canyon and Green River, due to its primary purpose as a transportation facility as it was constructed under the provisions of Streets and Highways Code 888.
4. The SART is popular with bicycle commuters, and daylight-only operating hours would restrict the SART’s usefulness as a commuting facility. Unlike a wilderness park where a nighttime closure is often needed for the sake of the wildlife, we see no such reason for such a restriction on the SART.
5. Finally, there was a car show at Canyon RV Park at Gypsum Canyon this past Sunday which encroached on the SART passing through that area. Cars were lined up along the SART, with the SART itself used as the walkway for viewing of the cars. Furthermore, the cars in the show were driving on the SART to enter and exit the area. We have photos available upon request.