IRVINE : Meeting to Focus on Future of Bike Lanes

The city Bicycle Trails Committee plans to discuss the future of bicycling in Irvine tonight as a result of road-widening plans that would eliminate bicycle lanes from several miles of three heavily traveled roads.

The plans concern many bicyclists who believe that the city is not taking their needs into account when designing roads, said Jim Von Tungeln, chairman of the Bicycle Trails Committee. The city's plans could also result in bicycles being banned from some stretches of roads.

"Our committee wants the right for bicyclists to ride on any street in Irvine," Von Tungeln said.

Current road-widening plans call for bicycle lanes to be removed from Jamboree Road between Michelson Drive and Main Street, from MacArthur Boulevard between Main and Douglas, and from Barranca Parkway roughly between Jamboree and the Costa Mesa Freeway.

The Bicycle Trails Committee asked city transportation officials to update its members on how the road-widening plans will affect bicyclists, Von Tungeln said. The committee's role is to advise the city Transportation Commission on bicycling issues.

Plans to remove the bicycle lanes from the wider roads have been in place for years, said Arya Rohani, manager of transportation services in Irvine. But as work on the three roads nears, some people might be finding out about the plans for the first time, he said.

The bicycle-lane removal was mentioned in the Orange County Wheelmen News, the newsletter for the county's largest bicycle club. The short article urges members to attend tonight's committee meeting.

The decision to remove the bicycle lanes as part of the road widenings was apparently made to save millions of dollars, Rohani said. The city needs to widen the roads to accommodate increasing traffic but does not have the money to buy enough right of way to install bicycle lanes, Rohani said.

"Our challenge is trying to solve the needs of everybody who's trying to use the facilities--buses, pedestrians and car drivers," Rohani said. "As much as we'd like to satisfy all users of the transportation network, sometimes there are conflicting needs."

Bicyclists will still be able to get where they need to go by using smaller, alternative roads and by using parallel off-road bicycle paths, he said.

The city will begin widening stretches of all three of the roads within a year.

Tonight's meeting will update committee members on when the bicycle lanes will be removed and whether bicyclists will still be allowed on the roads, Von Tungeln said.

"That's the issue right now, as far as I'm concerned," he said. "I want to declare that bicyclists be allowed to use all streets in Irvine."

The committee will meet at 5:15 p.m. in Conference Room L102 on the first floor at City Hall.

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