Support biking and walking infrastructure in Costa Mesa
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We, the undersigned, would like to express our support for the proposed new and improved active transportation infrastructure contained in the City of Costa Mesa’s draft Bikeway and Walkability Active Transportation Plan.
Bicycling and walking are great ways for people to get exercise, to commute to work, to run errands, to visit friends, or just to spend time together. But people won’t bike and walk unless they feel safe, and a lot of streets in Costa Mesa aren’t currently safe for people who use active transportation. Cyclists are frequently forced to ride on roads where cars zip by at 50 miles per hour while a thin strip of paint (if they’re lucky) protects them from cars. And walkers don’t fare much better: multiple major streets in the city lack sidewalks on one side, curb cuts are lacking at many intersections, impatient drivers turn without looking, and sidewalks are cluttered with obstructions that make navigating strollers or wheelchairs difficult.
We can do better as a city!
And we have done better: the new multiuse paths along Harbor Boulevard (the Joann Street Trail and Harbor Cornerstone Trail) are excellent examples of what active transportation infrastructure can be. They’re beautiful, functional spaces that make Harbor Boulevard better for drivers and safer for cyclists and walkers.
Given the success of the Harbor Boulevard trails, we ask that the city create as many new protected bicycle and walking paths as possible, as these facilities promote walking, bicycling, and other forms of active transportation better than any other type of facility. Protected off-street paths allow people of all ages and skill levels to walk and bike safely, free from traffic.
We are specifically in favor of extending the Class I Tanager Bike Path from Golf Course Drive to Fairview Park, to allow cyclists and walkers to circumnavigate the golf course and developmental center completely off streets; the Paularino Channel Trail, which will allow people to travel along the existing flood control channel between Pinecreek Drive and Bristol (parallel to Baker); and the 19th Street connection to the Santa Ana River Trail, which will give residents of Westside Costa Mesa safer access to the river trail and its many destinations.
A common concern of homeowners near proposed new cycling paths is that the paths will decrease property values and attract crime. In fact, well-designed multiuse pathways have been shown to raise property values and decrease crime. For instance:
- A 2006 study by the University of Delaware concludes “The majority of studies examined indicate that the presence of a bike path/trail either increases property values and ease of sale slightly or has no effect.”
- A 2006 report for the Rail Trail Conversion Advisory Committee in Massachusetts analyzed home sales in seven towns with multiuse trails, and found that “homes near these rail trails sold at 99.3% of the list price as compared to 98.1% of the list price for other homes sold in these towns … these homes sold in an average of 29.3 days as compared to 50.4 days for other homes.”
- A 2002 study of recent home buyers showed that walking/jogging/bike trails were the second-most desireable community amenity (after “highway access”) for home buyers.
- A 1998 report by the Rails to Trails Conservancy found that “Four separate studies conducted between 1979 and 1997 concluded that rail-trails do not increase crime,” including a report from a trail in Seattle that “the rate of vandalism and break-ins to adjacent property was well below the neighborhood average.”
Well-designed trails attract a positive element to neighborhoods by encouraging families and neighbors to enjoy open spaces. To address concerns about crime, we are in favor of creating and enforcing no loitering and no camping laws with regular police and/or citizen patrols. We could also explore innovative solutions, such as the North Augusta Public Safety Department's integration of their city’s trails into police officers’ physical fitness training, thus adding a regular police presence to the trails at no extra cost (discussed on pg. 12 of the Rails to Trails Conservancy Report).
We ask that, where it’s not feasible to build protected multiuse paths, the city install bike lanes and traffic-calmed bicycle boulevards wherever possible, to make roads safer for people who use active transportation.
We ask that the city improve the walking infrastructure to add sidewalks, reduce sidewalk obstructions, increase the width of sidewalks, add curb cuts, and implement other safety measures wherever possible.
Making these improvements to the city’s active transportation infrastructure will improve the quality of life for all of Costa Mesa’s residents. These improvements will make Costa Mesa more attractive to families with children: it will be easier for children to get to school safely, and it will be easier for families to bike or walk together without worrying about their children being hit by a car. It will be easier for OCC students to get to their classes. It will be safer for bicycle commuters on their way to work. It will be easier for people to bike and walk to neighborhood businesses. It will increase the property value of homes near these beautiful new paths. It will encourage residents to bike and walk, increasing the health of our community. It will even make things better for drivers, as they won’t have to worry as much about bicyclists and walkers impeding their trips.
We ask that the Costa Mesa Bikeway and Walkability Committee and the other city bodies involved in approving the draft Active Transportation Plan take advantage of this opportunity to improve Costa Mesa for years to come!
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