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Opinion

Commentary: Foley’s vision for Bikeway and Walkability Committee paved the way for bicycle plan updates

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A cyclist rides last month on the “Core Campus Loop” dedicated for bicyclists and skateboarders on the Orange Coast College campus in Costa Mesa.
(File Photo)

Recently, the city of Costa Mesa adopted an Active Transportation Plan (ATP), the first major change to the bicycle plan since 2002. The ATP includes goals to expand bicycle and pedestrian facilities throughout Costa Mesa and enables the city to get funding for these projects from sources other than municipal coffers.

None of this would have been possible without the vision and support of Councilwoman Katrina Foley, who in 2015 brought the idea of creating the Bikeway and Walkability Committee to the City Council.

During the recent General Plan update, surveyed residents expressed a need for increased bicycle and pedestrian paths. This is partly due to a movement by many citizens to go green. The percentage of Costa Mesans who commute to work by bike is greater than neighboring cities, but many residents stated they would commute by bike if they felt safer, if the routes were more direct or if cycling could be the last mile of their public transportation route.

There is also the cyclist who wants a long bike ride on the weekend but doesn’t have good access from their home to the trail that loops around Orange County.

Foley responded to the needs and desires of the residents. Good city planning implements policies and practices that make residents want to stay in that city. The ATP is part of creating a safe and healthy community, not only in terms of the physical health of residents, but also the economic health of businesses.

Most of the benefits to residents of daily exercise are evident in the form of reduced waistlines and increased health, but what most of us don’t see are the business growth that occurs along bike paths and walkable neighborhoods. Home values increase when properties are located in proximity to trails, and taking autos off our roads reduces infrastructure repairs, both which help our city budget.

As chair of the Bikeways and Walkability Committee, I had the pleasure to work with Foley on the ATP. This project required much research and analysis, and a little creativity.

The committee did much of the work that a consultant would have done, so it saved the city many thousands of dollars. At times it wasn’t easy to reach a consensus with all the members of the committee, but with Foley’s leadership skills we were able to create a solid plan.

This year Costa Mesans will vote for the first elected mayor in the city’s history. I urge you to vote for the person who had the vision to bring forth an ATP that will benefit the residents and businesses of Costa Mesa for years to come. I urge you to vote for Foley.

Costa Mesa resident Cynthia McDonald chairs the city’s Bikeways and Walkability Committee.