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Moving Santa Clarita forward – on two wheels

first_imgSANTA CLARITA – Mike Donnelly might not see himself as a model for future commuters, but if the city of Santa Clarita has its way, he may very well be. Donnelly, a project development coordinator for the city, has been riding his bike to work for the past nine years. The trek from his Newhall home to City Hall is five miles. “The only thing that stops me is more than a drizzle in the morning,” the 62-year-old said. “If in the afternoon it’s raining, I don’t care about getting wet going home.” The ride helps rid him of stress and revs him up for work. Donnelly and his wife share scenic rides on the weekends. Guided by a vision of less traffic and more people walking, riding buses and bikes to work and for play, the city will soon consider dramatically expanding the trail system and access to bus and Metrolink stops. “We’re trying to reduce the number of single-occupancy trips,” city traffic engineer Andrew Yi. “We’re trying to create an environment conducive for walking, trying to reduce our dependency on motor-vehicle use.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card The plan could be tinkered with over the next six to 10 months. At this stage, it is a study, not a design project. City officials will vote on hiring a consultant to develop the full-scale plan. Yi said less traffic would be one of the benefits. “If you reduce existing trips by five percent – especially during peak hours – that will help enhance traffic flow and reduce congestion,” he said. “When school is out, traffic on our streets flows a lot better. School trips are not more than 10 percent of total traffic.” In its 47 square miles, the city has about 50 miles of bike lanes and trails, and 30 miles of paseos. The Non-Motorized Plan would contain many components, including a bicycle master plan, a trail plan and easier access to the transit stops. Builders who propose commercial developments will be asked to provide eating areas, so employees can stay put for lunch. Meeting state guidelines for bicycle master plans would make the city eligible to receive state grants. Bike trails or paths would need to provide access from home to school, work, recreational and shopping spots. One local nonprofit group that advocates for more bicycle riders is hopeful. “Cities like Portland, Oregon, have a tremendous amount of people who ride bikes despite having worse weather than we do here, largely because of the planning and accessibility,” said Maria Gutzeit, coordinator for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. “It’s not just about cyclists, it’s about better air quality, less traffic, having healthier people in terms of fitness and less stress, and the overall protection of the quality of life that many people moved here for.” Other cities are considering non-motorized plans, though Yi says Santa Clarita’s would be one-of-a-kind. Ann Arbor, Mich., planner Eli Cooper, who takes the bus to work four days a week and rides his bike the 4 3/4 miles on Fridays, said a final draft of a comprehensive citywide plan has been in the works for some time and could be voted on by the City Council in the spring. The new plan, which builds on an existing bike plan, calls for more bike lanes, off-road bike paths and narrowing some roads to include a bike lane. Santa Clarita officials would hold community meetings to hear from stakeholders and to gauge support for the plan. At its Feb. 14 meeting, the City Council will consider hiring a consultant for the project. Judy O’Rourke, (661) 257-5255 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more