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Coronado To Redo Bike Plan After Residents’ Complaints

Photo caption:

Photo by Katie Schoolov

A father and son ride down a bike lane next to Coronado's elementary school, Sept. 22, 2015.

Last fall, Coronado gained national attention for reversing a decision to add more bike lanes to city streets because some residents complained the paint was ugly.

Last fall, Coronado gained national attention — and not in a good way — for reversing a decision to add more bike lanes to city streets because some residents complained the paint was ugly.

The city became a punch line in comedian James Corden's monologue for the "Late Late Show." And then residents' comments went viral on the internet.

The city now has scrapped the Bike Master Plan that called for the new lanes and caused such a stir.

The City Council recently voted to award a new contract to traffic engineering firm Chen Ryan Associates to draft a new plan for bike lanes and crosswalks, hold workshops and collect feedback.

The process could take until October 2017, at which point the City Council will vote on the plan again, said Jim Newton, Coronado's principal engineer. No new bike lanes will be painted until then.

Chen Ryan will get $159,810 to draft the plan and do public outreach, Newton said.

Last September, the City Council held a hearing on the Bike Master Plan, which called for 12 more miles of bike paths. The council voted to suspend all new proposed bike lanes, even though it had already approved the plan and voted in April 2015 to award a contract for painting new lanes.

The decision was made after some residents complained the bike lanes were ugly. They called the lanes "paint stripe pollution," "graffiti" and "a visual cacophony that if you look there long enough it will induce a dizzying type of vertigo."

One resident said the bike lanes take away "from your home, from your outlook on life," and another compared them to "taking all three of my daughters to a tattoo parlor and having them completely body tattooed."

Newton said the city was planning to add new bike lanes from the Bike Master Plan as roads in Coronado were repaired or repaved.

"When that contract was being considered, that’s when the debate happened about whether to install bike lanes," he said. "The direction the council gave was, 'No, don’t install bike lanes, don’t install any additional bike features until we do a new Bike Master Plan to make sure as a community we’re all on the same page.'"

Now that's what the city is doing.

Newton said the decision to draft a new master plan was partially because the old one needed to be updated and partially because of residents' complaints.

"Most cities recommend taking a look at the Bike Master Plan every five to seven years," he said. "We had been thinking it was about time to update the plan, and all of the debate that happened put a new priority on it."

Andy Hanshaw, director of the nonprofit advocacy group San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, said if the council hadn't reversed itself last fall, the new bike lanes would be in place by now. He called the decision to draft a new plan "a step backward."

"It's frustrating because some of those things could have already happened," he said.

He said he hopes the new plan gets public approval, because many Coronado residents get around the island by bike.

The city won a national award for bike friendliness in 2013 and leads the county in the percentage of people who bike to work, according to census data. In a grant application in 2014, the city reported that 70 percent of its students walk or bike to school.

Reported by Katie Schoolov

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Claire Trageser
Investigative Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs a member of the KPBS investigative team, my job is to hold the powerful in San Diego County accountable. I've done in-depth investigations on political campaigns, police officer misconduct and neighborhood quality of life issues.

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