Is Fullerton Bicycle Plan in danger of being nibbled to death?

The August 1st Council agenda has an item (#20) that would overturn a previous Council action (November 1, 2022) to reject a staff proposal to remove a crosswalk on Chapman at Hart (east of the Post Office).

It is not evident why this item is on the agenda now or how it got there. The Active Transportation Committee (ATC) voted it down on October 19 to preserve the integrity of the Bicycle Master Plan (which has a route at that point) and to preserve a neighborhood walking route. Council followed suit on November 1.  The current agenda report only says that “This was requested to be brought back based on neighborhood concerns with the opening in the wall…” And later: “Staff has received additional requests…”  How many requests, and who with standing requested that it be brought back? This is all vague. What has happened since last November?

Note that this is not about the crosswalk (which is dangerous and needs controls) but rather about the opening in the wall to Hart south of Chapman, which has been there forever. The major part of the residents’ letter (signed by nine people and written after a staff presentation) is about closing the wall, citing “transient and loitering foot traffic,” littering, “attempted burglaries” (apparently no successful ones), etc. No numbers are given. We do not know how common these events are or how they compare with other nearby streets.  And if there is a problem and the gap is closed, does it just kick the can down the street to Anin or another street? This proposal does not solve the problem. At best, it moves from one backyard to another.

Why does this item appear buried in the middle of an agenda, with no notice and no referral back to committees and commissions, etc.? Who knows about it? Where is the transparency?

My concern is that this cul-de-sac, wall opening, and crossing is on the 2012 Bicycle Master Plan as part of a key route between the depot (and downtown) and the University via the Bike Boulevard and lightly traveled Hart and Victoria (fewer than 3000 trips per day). It would require a traffic signal on Chapman (obtained, no doubt, by a grant as every other bicycle improvement has been).

This Bicycle Plan was developed with substantial public input and is for the entire city. It should not be gutted by the concerns of a handful of residents. The plan is in danger of being nibbled to death (e.g., Hughes Drive, Associated Road). If the gap in the wall is closed, it will, in effect, kill this proposed route.

Recently a council member objected to the Associated Road lane removal item coming back to Council (we are still waiting for a vote), and now this issue, which was thought to be resolved back in November, rises — unexpectedly and unannounced — like a zombie from the dead.

There are two alternatives for riders on Wilshire to get to east Fullerton, both less desirable than Hart. First, riders could go through parking lots to get to the light at Victoria (not advisable nor safe); or they could go to Acacia, which requires a left turn on a busier street (more than 6,000 trips per day), with bad pavement and no bike lanes north of Chapman.  All of that should be improved since Acacia is a major bike route from at least Dorothy south to the Santa Ana River (and provides access to multiple schools), but Hart would remain the safer, shorter, and more convenient route (and the pavement is already better).

Council should put this proposal to rest once again and move forward with implementing the Bicycle Plan.

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2 replies »

  1. Bravo Vince. Excellent piece on the importance of a Bicycle Master Plan. Its too bad this Council doesn’t listen to its residents and instead to the special interests that control them.

  2. I regularly bike and walk across Chapman via Victoria from Wilshire. Biking through the parking lot is unsafe and unpleasant. The pavement is in horrible shape, and cars often speed through the often-empty lot without looking. The other issue with relying on the Victoria crossing as a bicycle thoroughfare is that it is on private property that could be closed to through traffic at any time. We need Hart to stay open.

    If the safety of an unprotected crossing is a concern, then the city should make it safer via illumination, not force pedestrians and bicyclists to use Victoria, which is 500 feet away (i.e., a 1000 ft diversion). Chapman already has too few crossings as it is.

    Not only that, but by removing the Hart crossing, the city would be illegally violating its own Bicycle Master Plan.