Bicycle advocates who pushed for more bike racks around town got their wish on Tuesday, though the City Council rejected adding racks to some high-traffic spots.
In approving 21 of 32 locations suggested by the Complete Streets Task Force, the council’s decision will add bike racks that can accommodate 58 bicycles. New racks are expected to be installed by year’s end, adding to a few existing racks around downtown that hold 40 bikes and other racks at city parks that accommodate up to 47 bikes, according to a staff report.
“I don’t think we have that many racks right now,” Billy Fried, a Complete Streets committee member, told the council, saying that an inventory of existing bike racks is necessary. “I have a hunch a lot of those bike racks have gone missing,” he said.
The new racks will be located at what the Complete Streets committee and city staff determined were priority spots around town that did not block public access, impede traffic or encroach on private property. New locations include the Forest Avenue entrance to the farmers’ market, the top of several beach-access stairways and city parks, Ocean Avenue and City Hall.
The downtown post office was nixed from the list, along with other locations that either blocked access to other areas or were not in the city’s right-of-way, explained Steve May, the city’s director of public works. Several other desired high-use spots, like the Sawdust Festival, Starbuck’s, Lang Park and the Albertson’s shopping center were not approved.
Even so, not enough of the approved sites will encourage people to get out of their cars and onto their bicycles, critics of the list stated. Bike racks need to be installed near frequented businesses and stores, Les Miklosy, former chair of the Complete Streets subcommittee, stated in a letter. Too many, he noted, are located at parks and beaches where people are already on their feet, which doesn’t encourage motorists to stop driving and start peddling.
“Balanced mobility for Laguna Beach is achieved by giving commuters alternatives to driving the automobile,” Miklosy said.
The online Orange County Bikeways map produced by the Orange County Transit Authority currently shows no bike paths in Laguna Beach.
Tamara Hlava, a Complete Streets project manager, said she hopes more racks will show up at high-traffic businesses, which includes private property not within the city’s public domain. “That’s really what’s going to push it over the edge for taking your bike into town,” Hlava said.
In earlier meetings, the council discussed asking local artists to design the racks. Nevertheless, city staff plans to use a standard bike-rack style known as the hoop.
The council approved allocating $30,000 from the current budget to cover installation costs and will review the racks usefulness at year’s end. To add 10 more bike racks, another $10,000 is anticipated, according to the report.
Council member Elizabeth Pearson moved to use the $30,000 to install the recommended list of 21 sites.
Council member Verna Rollinger pointed out that the city stepped up its efforts to resolve “a disconnect” between the task force and the city staff about the need for bike racks. “It was like reinforcements came from everywhere,” she said. “Each side listened to what the other had to say.”