City approves bicycle master plan

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Source of this article – Thousand Oaks Acorn, May 26, 2005.

By Sophia Fischer,

A new bike facilities master plan was approved by the Thousand Oaks City Council last week. Council members hope the additional 80 miles of bike paths and lanes may help improve the growing traffic congestion on local streets.

“It’s a wonderful way to provide alternative routes,” said Mayor Claudia Bill de la Pefta.

Over the next 20 years, the city will spend about $12.6 million to construct the new facilities.

In the first five years of the plan nearly 11 miles, at a cost of about $1.7 million, will be built along routes that include Erbes Road, Hillcrest Drive and the Moorpark Road/I 01 Freeway underpass. Long-term projects will include Lynn Road, Avenida de Los Arboles and Borchard Road.

The plan was developed over the past several years by staff, resident bicyclists and the city’s Traffic and Transportation Commission. The plan’s concept is to provide a link among local neighborhoods and key destinations such as schools, parks, transit connections, businesses and shopping centers.

City officials hope that new bike lockers and racks will further encourage bicycle commuters.

Study results indicated that current bike lanes are well-used, but improved signage and markings are needed, and in some sections bicyclists must negotiate heavy traffic or ride on sidewalks. The plan provides recommendations on safety improvements, maintenance and educational programs.

There were 479 reported bicycle-related accidents from 1996 to 2003, averaging about 60 per year. The highest number of incidents occurred on Thousand Oaks Boulevard, where bicyclists and walkers often go against traffic. The new plan calls for improving bicycle visibility at intersections and educating the public about the importance of riding in the same direction as traffic.

Funding may come from a combination of federal, state and regional transportation, safety and air quality grants, as well as from local and private sources. Some of the projects are on the city’s capital improvement plan and will be built as part of future roadway projects.

“Having this plan will give us extra clout when we go to apply for grants in the future,” said John Helliwell, traffic engineering division manager.

The city currently has about 49 miles as part of a “scenic bike route loop system” that runs through Newbury Park, the central portion of Thousand Oaks and in the Westlake area of the city.

“It’s great to have this master plan,” Councilmember Jacqui Irwin said. “Hopefully residents will take advantage of it.”