by Leah Bissonette
The City Council meeting Wednesday night was amazing. SANDAG offered the City a rail trail, approved, expedited, and free, and the City said “no”. They offered a rail trail on the west side of the tracks, fully enclosed with fences, safe and away from cars, with a paved path in both directions and separate areas for pedestrians. Many of us have wanted such a trail for a long time. But the Mayor finally showed her hand. The arguments for bikes are not about developing a safe trail for individuals or family use or for commuters, despite the cover argument that there would be more bike commuters with a rail trail. The plan is all about bikers riding in large groups.
Following this offer from the SANDAG representative, the Mayor turned to a member of the biking clubs and asked if this rail trail would meet his needs. He opinioned, “no”. It wouldn’t provide safety for bikers traveling in large groups. They wouldn’t use the trail. They must have part of Coast Highway. Indeed, he said, they have the right to ride on H101 in groups. That was it. The Mayor, with the rest of the Council, rejected the whole re-design proposed by staff in response to SANDAG.
As a resident I am outraged. I want a rail trail. I want it now. I want to ride my bicycle safely and others do, too. A rail trail will help people commute safely by bikes and that is in line with our Climate Action Plan. Bike groups have nothing to do with such commuting.
SANDAG owns this right of way around the railroad and they have stated that there is not enough room to put a rail trail on the east side of the tracks because they must allow space for drainage and for double tracking. That means we must get our rail trail on the west side or not all and this plan would have made it easier to get it now. But instead, our City Council is continuing to press for the demands of the spandex-clad bikers who stream through the City on Saturday mornings and insist they must have an entire lane dedicated to them. Where is the fairness for the local residents who would be happy to share a rail trail with any bikers who want to commute or exercise and not just travel in packs?
(Top image from the Council Meeting’s Agenda Report and can be found here.)