'Can't we all just share?' biker asks

A La Cañada resident is asking state transportation officials to help increase bicyclist safety along Angeles Crest Highway by replacing missing signs that remind motorists to share the road.

As bicyclists converge on the mountainous pass, which recently re-opened after nearly 17 months of construction, La Cañadan Trent Sanders is lobbying the California Department of Transportation to replace three safety signs that were lost in the 2009 Station fire, and to install additional signs advising cyclists to ride single-file.

He's even offered to pay for the fabrication and installation.

Sanders said he was inspired to push for the increased signage following a road rage incident in June in which La Crescenta resident Earl Clyde Cox allegedly threatened a group of cyclists on the highway with his vehicle.

Sanders added that seeing firsthand how many bicyclists are using the reopened highway was another motivating factor.

“I came down from Clear Creek…to the country club there in La Cañada, and I started counting the number of [bicycle] riders coming up, and there were 57 people,” he said.

Dale Benson, a senior transportation engineer for Caltrans in charge of bicycle and pedestrian safety, said his agency was reviewing the issue.

“Our Traffic Investigations Unit is proceeding with an investigation, to not only look into this issue, but there's other issues with signing,” Benson said. “Since [the signs] burned down, they may or may not have been replaced. That's what they're still working on, and it's a work in progress.”

Caltrans spokesman Patrick Chandler also emphasized the agency's heavy workload in getting the highway reopened after heavy storms in early 2010 forced its closure for nearly 17 months.

“I don't want the fact that we don't have a few signs there on the road specifically for cyclists to [make] people think that outweighs all that's been done,” Chandler said, “because a colossal amount of work has been done just to allow people back on that road.”

Chandler said Caltrans was planning on placing seven bike signs on the highway, but that there was no estimated completion date for the work.

No bicyclists have been involved in any collisions on the highway since it reopened, said California Highway Patrol Officer Ming Hsu, adding that historically they have not been a problem.

Hsu got a close look at the Angeles Crest Highway when he helped complete the proposal earlier this year that got the CHP a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for increased patrols.

“When we were looking at this grant proposal, there wasn't any indication bicyclists were a problem or an issue, or they were getting involved in collisions,” he said.


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