Design presented for PCH bike route

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The PCH Bike Route Improvement Project would include a two-foot-wide buffer zone (such as pictured above) and a bike line six feet wide on both sides of Pacific Coast Highway. It would run for eight miles on the west side of Malibu. Photo courtesy of the Seattle Department of Transportation

Proposed bike path would eliminate all shoulder parking on the north side of PCH from Busch Drive to County Line. Permission from the Coastal Commission is a potential

hang-up.

By Jimy Tallal / Special to The Malibu Times

The Public Works Department held a public meeting last week to provide an update on the “PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) Bike Routes Improvement Project.” Planning and design company Alta presented the proposed drawings for the project based on input from public workshops in March and April for the PCH bike path from Busch Drive to the Los Angeles County line.

PCH in Malibu has become an increasingly popular destination for cyclists in recent years, and conflicts have arisen as greater numbers of cyclists attempt to share the road with motorized vehicles. Because of PCH’s four lanes and increasingly higher traffic volume, some have questioned whether PCH can ever be safe for cyclists.

In 2010, the city’s Public Works Department received a $900,000 federal highway safety improvement grant from Caltrans for the project. The city is required to contribute 10 percent of the grant amount for a total of nearly $1 million. The original grant specified bike route improvements from the city limits to Trancas Canyon Road, but that has since been extended to Busch Drive in order to include the Zuma Beach area.

Brett Hondorp of Alta said the company wanted to get feedback on its preliminary bike route design for the eight-mile long stretch of PCH “to see if they’re going in the right direction.”

Hondorp presented a design featuring dedicated bike lanes on both sides of PCH that are “Class II with a buffer.” This means that next to outside lanes of PCH would be a buffer zone two feet in width, painted with stripes to indicate cars should not stray over the line. Next to the buffer would be a six-foot-wide bike lane.

All parking areas on the shoulder on the north side of PCH would be eliminated for the entire eight miles. Shoulder parking on the south (ocean) side of PCH would be eliminated in any area where there isn’t enough space for a bike lane plus parking (16 foot minimum).

Hondorp said the goal was to “eliminate potentially hazardous shoulder conditions, minimize parking loss, and add signage and striping for visual cues.” He said the design would provide continuity for both cyclists and motorists.

But some members of the public in attendance were skeptical that the Coastal Commission would allow the elimination of any shoulder parking on PCH. Others were concerned about the proposed configuration of the bike route next to Zuma Beach.

Malibu residents Lynn Norton, Hans Laetz and others suggested it might be safer if the bike route went through the Zuma Beach parking lot, since local youth would probably ride it between the two shopping areas at Trancas and Busch Drive.

However, Hondorp said the project had to stay within the Caltrans right-of-way, which does not include the beach parking lot.

Residents also pointed out that there’s no wheeled access from the shoulder of PCH at Zuma to the beach or restrooms for bicycles or wheelchairs. Jim Riley, a transportation engineer for Caltrans, offered to get all of the various stakeholders to meet together to discuss wheeled and handicap access to Zuma.

In addition to public input, Alta’s design also had to take into account the $1 million total budget for the project (apparently not a lot for eight miles), Caltrans right-of-ways, highway design, coastal access parking regulations, topography and areas where the standard eight-foot shoulder width narrows. They also studied the medians, lane widths and parking for the entire corridor.

A seven-day traffic study on PCH was conducted using both manual and machine counts and dividing the bike route corridor into three segments: the western city limit to Decker Canyon Rd., Decker Canyon Rd. to Trancas Canyon Rd. and Trancas Canyon Rd. to Busch Drive. Not surprisingly, the segment stretching from the city limit to Decker had the lowest volume of traffic and the highest speeds. Peak traffic volumes occurred on Thursday and Saturday. Residents pointed out that traffic conditions could be vastly different during the summer season.

A final public meeting will be held on June 16, with a presentation of the final plan recommendations and conceptual design from Alta. The project will then be turned over to Willdan Engineering, where it will still have to go through the permitting process. The estimated completion of the bike route was given as January 2014.