Local advocates bicycle safety on Crest

A La Cañada resident is asking Caltrans to increase bicyclist safety along Angeles Crest Highway by replacing missing signage that reminds vehicle drivers to share the road.

In the wake of the recently re-opened highway’s increasing popularity as a route for bicyclists, La Cañadan Trent Sanders emphasized in an email to Dale Benson, Caltrans senior transportation engineer in charge of bicycle and pedestrian safety, the importance of replacing three such signs that burned down in the 2009 Station fire.

Sanders has also requested the placement of new signs advising bicyclists to ride in a single file manner — and even offered to pay for their fabrication and installation himself.

Sanders said he was inspired to start pushing for the increased signage when he read about the arrest in June of La Crescenta resident Earl Clyde Cox for a road rage incident in which he 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.

Bensonsaid that Caltrans is looking into the issue.

“Our Traffic Investigations Unit is proceeding with an investigation, to not only to look into this issue, but there’s other issues with signing,” said Benson. “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.”

When asked about the lost bicyclist safety signs, Caltrans spokesman Patrick Chandler 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 that Caltrans was planning on placing a total of seven bike signs on the highway, but that there was no estimated completion date for the work.

While Sanders said he wasn’t satisfied with the pace at which Caltrans’ sign replacement is moving, law enforcement officials said the evidence might not support his sense of urgency.

Officer Ming Hsu, CHP public information officer, said that bicyclists have not been involved in any collisions on the highway since it reopened, and that historically they have not been a problem.

In addition to four years experience on the road, Officer 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 anything indication bicyclists were a problem or an issue or they were getting involved in collisions,” said Hsu.

Hsu said that although the numbers do not support the need for more signs, he wouldn’t want to downplay the importance of motorists looking out for cyclists.

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