In the Early June Issue, the Observer printed two articles on City staff’s proposal to remove two lanes from Associated Road between Bastanchury and Imperial to improve safety. (Staff also proposed adding parking which turned out to be unpopular all around.) It appears that without some strong show of support for the staff proposals the safer design will not be implemented.
Only property owners on Associated Road received notice of the meetings on this issue. Almost all were opposed to the project, primarily to the parking and the fear that it would result in homeless and student parking. Two Councilmembers supported the opponents, while Councilmember Charles opposed the parking but supported the lane removal. Mayor Jung did not speak directly to the issue, but at a later meeting, in response to some comments that decisions seemed to have been made behind closed doors, he stated that it would come back for a vote.
That is yet to happen. Thus the issue remains open. In the meantime, staff has stopped working on this proposal. Since it involves only paint and the road re-construction is going forward from now until November 20, time remains to determine the ultimate lane configuration.
The initial proposal would have made the street safer for drivers making left turns when leaving housing complexes (not having to cross two lanes); for pedestrians crossing the street (ditto); for through traffic (not being passed at 50+ MPH on a winding road); for bicyclists (not being hit by one of the many cars entering the bike lanes on curves; and for everyone, by traffic being slowed from the current 85 percentile figure of 51 MPH (15% of the 10,000 plus daily trips are at or above that speed), despite a current speed limit of 45 MPH. Only the bad pavement at the northern of the project and the traffic signal at Rolling Hills keep cars from traveling even faster.
Lane removal would allow for wider bike lanes and several feet of painted buffering. (I have visited Associated Road multiple times since this item first surfaced to observe the safety of the bicycle lanes. Current bike lanes are six feet wide, including the 22” gutter, the minimum standard for streets with this speed. Nearly half of the cars in the right-hand lane on one curve enter the bike lane, usually the faster cars, often going deep into the lane– see picture. There are seven other curves on the street.)
That is the upside. There is no downside that data can support. Federal, state, and local data state– and local experience demonstrates — that a well-designed two-lane road will handle twice the number of daily trips that Associated experiences without congestion. That number of trips will not be reached in our lifetimes, as was confirmed by a 30-year traffic survey by the City. The current number of trips has been stable for some time, and locations for new traffic-generating developments are limited to the strawberry fields and the small commercial area south of Imperial. The parking area for the Brea Mall will see some housing development, but not only is it unlikely that residents in that area would add significant traffic to Associated, but housing on that parking lot would probably generate less traffic than would a thriving mall.
It appears that this proposal for safer road and bicycle infrastructure will not be implemented without a stronger show of community support. At the last meeting, a cycling advocate showed the Council a petition that she had circulated supporting lane removal for which she had obtained over 163 signatures, possibly outnumbering the number of identified supporters. Other petitions are still being circulated. Her comments were ignored by Council Members. Sign the petition
The Council majority would prefer to see this go away, even though there is no shortage of bicycle riders in Fullerton. Over 1000 turned out for a July 4 ride on Wilshire. Not so many readily turn out for Council meetings, contact their members, or sign petitions. Nor is there an active bicycle or road safety advocacy group in Fullerton at the moment.
If you wish to weigh in on this proposal (pro or con), you can contact the Council at Councilmembers@cityoffullerton.com, Or you can show up for public comments at Council meetings on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month at 5:30.