The City of Fullerton is about to replace the water main and repave Associated Rd from Bastanchury to Imperial (The segment from Yorba Linda to Bastanchury is already under construction). In addition, the plan is to remove a traffic lane in each direction and make more room for bicycles and parking. This is one of the few things the City has proposed to enhance bicycle safety and convenience in recent years.
A notice was sent to property owners on Associated as required by state law, and there was some additional notice on social media. Still, no special attempt was made to reach cyclists or other street users. Here is the letter that went out to some residents to encourage attendance at the May 4 meeting:
Ref: Community Meeting on Associated Road
Dear Property Owner:
On Thursday, May 4, 2023, the Public Works Traffic Division will host a community education workshop to present the proposed improvements on Associated Road, between Bastanchury Road and Imperial Highway. Staff will make a presentation, answer any questions, and collect feedback from the community. You are encouraged to attend to learn about this project and ensure your voice is heard.
There is currently a water main replacement project on Associated Road, between Yorba Linda to Bastanchury, which will be followed by street improvements. The upcoming community meeting is for a separate project between Bastanchury Road to Imperial Highway. The proposed improvements within this segment include infrastructure improvements (water & sewer), road rehabilitation, and a potential lane reduction. The proposed lane reduction has been presented, reviewed, and approved by the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), as well as recommended by three City bodies (Transportation & Circulation Commission, Active Transportation Committee, and Infrastructure & Natural Resources Advisory Committee). The proposed design has not been finalized and is subject to community input and Council approval. This item is tentatively scheduled to be discussed by the City Council at its meeting on May 16th.
Three decades of traffic data indicate the segment of Associate Road between Bastanchury Road and Imperial Highway is underutilized. Current best practices suggest a lane reduction and reassignment of the roadway space. If the lane reduction is supported and approved by the City Council, we then have an opportunity to upgrade/enhance the bike facility to the first protected Class IV bikeway in the City and add needed on-street parking for the surrounding community. The workshop will be held in the Council Chambers of City Hall at 303 W. Commonwealth Avenue, and is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. You are welcome to attend the meeting in person or you may contact this office at (714) 738-6845 if you have any questions.
Sincerely, Stephen Bise, PE, TE City Engineer Assistant Director of Public Works
Instead, about 30 people attended, most skeptical about the project, some openly hostile to staff and speakers with whom they disagreed. The main concern seemed to be with parking possibly leading to homeless encampments, although the overnight parking ban would still be in effect. There was also concern about the bicycle lane being located between parked cars and the curbs (a proposal to build a protected class IV bike lane). But some of the most vocal speakers wanted no change, keeping four lanes, 6′ bicycle lanes, and no parking.
The principal reason for the lane reduction, according to staff, is safety for drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians:
- Interaction between cars moving in the same direction would be eliminated.
- The bike lane would be widened and further separated from vehicles.
- Pedestrians would find it safer to cross two lanes rather than four.
- Staff also referred to data that reducing the number of lanes would also reduce traffic speed.
The principal concern of attendees about lane reduction was congestion. However, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has determined that with traffic counts of fewer than 20,000 cars per day, well-designed two-lane streets are safer and can work as effectively as four-lane streets (the traffic count on Associated is 10,800 cars per day). There are several examples in Fullerton that bear this out, notably Berkeley between Hornet and Chapman; and Commonwealth between Chapman and State College. Associated is a vital bike route both for the City and regional bicyclists: it is in the Fullerton Bicycle Master Plan and is included in the OCTA document on Fourth District Bikeways Strategy; it is the only route that would completely traverse the City from north to south (via the campus, Commonwealth and Acacia; it is one of the only safe routes that cross the 57 freeway, and it connects with the only other two safe routes (Rolling Hills and Bastanchury). It would be more heavily used, except that the Rolling Hills to Imperial segment is unsafe for riding. Councilmembers need to hear from more than the property owners on Associated and are encouraged to turn out for this meeting on May 16 at City Hall.