Officials release plans for more bike-friendly city

Huntington Beach has been working on a plan to create an infrastructure for bicycles in the city, according to a report by city officials.

A draft of the Bicycle Master Plan was posted on the city's website Wednesday, detailing the approaches it will take to improve riding conditions for bicyclists and further educate the public about sharing the road.

"The city recognized the need and opportunity to serve bicyclists and bicycle communities in our city better than we currently do," said Bob Stachelski, Huntington Beach public works transportation manager. "One way to achieve that is to develop a more comprehensive master plan to provide a little more direction on how to accomplish the goals, meeting [bicyclists'] needs and encouraging more bicycle use."

The public can review the document and voice their opinions at an upcoming study session and council meeting, though no date has been set, Huntington Beach spokeswoman Laurie Frymire said.

The project started in 2012 and input was sought from biking community. The city held two workshops — one in June 2012 and another this past April — and discovered an obstacle that needed to be overcome.

"The biggest challenge is the wide range of users and potential users that are out there," Stachelski said. "There's a huge range of their abilities, knowledge, comfort level on the street. It's everybody, ranging from the enthusiast bike rider that might engage in 15- to 100-mile rides on the weekend to the very casual biker on the beach"

The report follows a 14-point plan suggested by the local advocacy group Huntington Beach Bicycle Advocates. The city aims to answer these items with recommended bikeway projects, improvements on existing lanes and education programs.

Key projects the city is looking to engage in are multi-use bike paths, bike lanes and bike routes.

Huntington Beach currently has multi-use paths — lanes that are shared with pedestrians and bicyclists — along Pacific Coast Highway from Warner Avenue to Brookhurst Street. The plan looks to expand this with seven additional trails, including one that would guide bicyclists from Heil Avenue to the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.

Though the majority of Surf City's arterial streets have bike lanes, the plan is aiming to include lanes for Beach Boulevard from the 405 freeway to Pacific Coast Highway.

Bike routes are milder versions of lanes, since they do not have dedicated striping that dictates where bikers should be, according to the plan. Plans include a major route addition along Palm Avenue next to the reserve.

Education is another area the city is looking to improve on. Stachelski said it's important to teach bicyclists and motorists about their rights on the road.

Jim Powers, a founding member of HuBBA, said the master plan will create a safer environment for bicyclists. It will also help the city become eligible for grants from the state.

"I still have a car and still drive, but I do most of my errands on my bike," he said. "It's an efficient way to go."

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