LA VERNE, California, Dec. 20, 2017 — Reality — a lack of real estate and the sheer might of the green-lighted Gold Line project — has just slammed the brakes on La Verne’s dream of having a Class 1 bike lane (paved right-of-way completely separated from the street) running along Arrow Hwy.
Under La Verne’s plan, the proposed Class 1 lanes, buffering cyclists from three traffic lanes flowing both east and west, would have connected cyclists to the planned Gold Line station near Arrow and E.
The design, however, conflicts with the Gold Line’s desired route, particularly along Arrow between D and E Streets, which includes grade separations and no bike path. Additionally, the Gold Line’s right of way requires part of a third traffic lane along Arrow.
La Verne Public Works Director Dan Keesey summed up the conflict at Monday’s Dec. 18, City Council meeting:
“There just isn’t enough room for them to do what they want to do and what we want to do,” he said, explaining new options that La Verne City Council members must now weigh.
When the original bike paths had been conceived, the Gold Line was but a mere twinkle in the eyes of La Verne city planners. Planners were more concerned about the 210 than the Gold Line passing through La Verne.
But today’s reality is the Gold Line is a $1.5 billion project and La Verne’s bike lanes’ initiative, is a $1.55 million project, supported by a Caltrans grant.
Councilmembers went on record saying they didn’t want to do anything to slow the path or progress of the Gold Line, but this consensus for accommodation also jeopardizes the $1.55 grant by Caltrans, stipulating “that a bike route be maintained on Arrow.”
Currently, the understanding with Caltrans is that if La Verne doesn’t provide bike paths along Arrow Hwy., Caltrans will pull all of the $1.55 million, which La Verne had planned to use not only along Arrow (estimated at about $250,000), but elsewhere throughout the city to create and maintains bicycle pathways.
Given the City Council’s overriding desire to accommodate the Gold Line project, the City has been left two options:
1) Eliminate the Arrow bike path, thereby avoiding conflicts with Gold Line, but negotiate with Caltrans to maintain the majority of grant monies for alternative bike paths through the city, or
2) Drop the third lane in both the east and west directions of Arrow and install a Class II bike lane (a striped, on-road bicycle lane to the right of the lane reserved for motorists) in both directions, which would satisfy Caltrans’ terms to maintain full grant funding.
Choosing option one, however, would put a wrench in La Verne’s desire to close the “bicycle gap” or cycling “black hole” along Arrow Hwy., a major thoroughfare, leaving cyclists to fend for themselves.
If it selects option two, the city would install bicycle lanes along Arrow and maintain Caltrans funding, but the Class 2 lanes would clearly be less safe than Class 1 lanes.
One resident who addressed the council said, “I don’t see any bike lanes on Arrow being safe.”
Also expressing his concern for cyclists’ safety along Arrow Hwy., Councilman Charlie Rodriguez said, “We’re just asking for trouble.”
Ideally, the city would like to retain all or as much of the grant money it has been awarded, so at the end the public discussion the council directed staff to keep the conversation going with Caltrans in the hope the state agency will modify its current position that La Verne provide Class 2 bike paths along Arrow in exchange for funding.
As for those Class 1, wide and roomy bike paths separated and reserved for the exclusive use of cyclists, with minimal cross-flow traffic, well, the reality of the $1.5 Gold Line project has derailed that dream. The gears of progress don’t always grind ahead smoothly.
If you’re dreaming of real estate — buying, selling or investing — talk to longtime La Verne Realtor Colleen Bennett, Sotheby’s Int’l Realty (DRE#01013172) and read her always informative and entertaining column, THE REAL DIRTT, found exclusively on LaVerneOnline.com. Got a question, call Coll! 626.344.0907