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Cyclists voice concern

Council meeting addresses bicycle laws, honor mother

Posted: April 15, 2009 1:14 a.m.
Updated: April 15, 2009 6:00 a.m.
The Santa Clarita City Council put the brakes on a proposed change to local bicycle law Tuesday after several cyclists voiced concern.

On the council's agenda was a request to sign off on the second reading of a change to the municipal code, which would have allowed bicycles on sidewalks, but required cyclists to dismount and walk through crosswalks.

It is illegal to ride a bike on sidewalks in the city.

"This measure is a big risk for any cyclist in a crosswalk," said Maria Gutzeit, who held up a slippery-soled cycling shoe and spoke of the dangers of trying to walk through a wide intersection while wearing a pair.

The change in code to allow bikes on sidewalks was requested by local cyclists because of the incomplete nature of the city's bike path system, which at times requires cyclists to navigate busy streets.

"Things look a lot different from a bike seat," Gutzeit said.

In addition to the comments of Gutzeit and three other local cyclists, the council had mixed concerns about the agenda item and requested it be held for further discussion.

"This is an area I don't think we want to make any mistakes," Councilman Bob Kellar said.

The crosswalk restriction was necessary from a safety standpoint, City Attorney Carl Newton said, as there is a greater risk of a bicyclist riding through a crosswalk being struck by a vehicle making a turn.

Cyclists still have the option of riding with traffic through an intersection and avoiding the crosswalk.

"The maximum safety ... is to do the ordinance this way," Councilwoman Laurene Weste said. "This is primarily for the most inexperienced of riders."

The city already has about 30 miles of off-street bike paths, 13 miles of bike lanes and two miles of bike routes.
The item may come back to the council in May.

The council waived the presentation of a report on the transit and transportation-related money being sought by city staff as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Staff will proceed with filing applications.

At the start of Tuesday's meeting, the council honored Santa Clarita resident Myrna Condie who was named the 2009 Mother of the Year by the California Association of American Mothers, Inc.

Condie's local involvement includes her position on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley.

"She is truly a hero for many kids," Kellar said. "The word ‘no' has never crossed (her) lips."


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