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Residents strike deal on Decoro

Town hall meeting leads to compromise between city officials and Valencia motorists

Posted: September 2, 2009 10:10 p.m.
Updated: September 3, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Put to a vote Wednesday night, the response from a roomful of Valencia residents was clear - change the bicycle lanes on Decoro Drive.

Within the next four weeks, City Manager Ken Pulskamp said, the street will be re-striped to better accommodate both motorists and bicyclists.

Pulskamp hosted a town hall meeting Wednesday at Helmers Elementary School, in the wake of myriad complaints from Decoro-area residents incensed after Decoro Drive was re-striped about two weeks ago to include two bicycle lanes between Seco Canyon Road and McBean Parkway. Decoro was reduced from two traffic lanes to one in each direction.

"We came here tonight with open minds," Pulskamp told the crowd of about 150 people. "I'll do what you folks want."

Ultimately at Wednesday's meeting, the majority voted for a new re-striping plan. Rather than leaving Decoro the way it is or returning it to its previous state, it will be re-striped with a seven-foot bicycle lane in each direction, a 10-foot center median and both a 10-foot and 11-foot traffic lane in each direction.

Over the course of roughly an hour before the vote, a microphone was passed around the room, allowing residents to speak their peace.

Many complained about increased traffic congestion on Decoro, and a dearth of bicyclists on the new bike lanes.

On the flip side, some - both cyclists and non-cyclists - spoke in favor of the change, citing how frequently motorists sped down Decoro before the lanes were reduced.

"Decoro is scary enough with cars going 50 mph," avid cyclist Jeff Wilson said. "This has been a good thing for cyclists. But I understand why you're angry."

The changes to Decoro were part of the city's nonmotorized transportation plan, approved in 2008 after numerous scoping meetings and surveys.

The transportation plan, which was hailed by cyclists throughout the valley, lays out $14 million in bicycling improvements, including 11 miles of new bike paths, 13 miles of new bike lanes and nine miles of bike routes - which are shared with motorists.

The plan calls for dedicated bicycle lanes on local streets including Dockweiler Drive, Copper Hill Drive, Plum Canyon Road and The Old Road.

In developing the plan, City Traffic Engineer Andrew Yi said software-based traffic studies were done, comparing current traffic volumes with projected volumes, looking as far out as 10 to 20 years.

"It went great," said Maria Gutzeit, an avid cyclist and former president of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. "I think the community was really willing to compromise."



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