On a 5-0 vote Tuesday night, the City Council agreed to pay Fehr & Peers Transportation Consultants $64,300 to:
• Find the best way to get bicyclists safely between Camino Vera Cruz and El Camino Real along the busy Avenida Pico corridor.
• Recommend the best way to engineer a safe bikeway between North Beach and the Dana Point city limit along El Camino Real (Pacific Coast Highway). (Click here to see map)
City Engineer Bill Cameron said he would like to see a Class 1 bikeway – separated from cars – for as much of the Pico route as possible.
"Pico is our most heavily traveled road," he said. "I'm a cyclist and I don't want to ride on that street."
The city expects to receive options with cost estimates attached. Solutions could involve routing the bikeway along a storm-drain channel or even tunneling under I-5, which would be expensive, Cameron said. The city would apply for grants and work with the California Department of Transportation and the Orange County Transportation Authority to incorporate bicycle improvements into a proposed widening of the Pico freeway undercrossing.
On El Camino Real, the city needs to decide whether to have protected bike lanes on each side of the highway or use a single, two-way protected lane like Dana Point has. Cameron said he would want San Clemente's to be wider.
There's also the question, Cameron said, of how bicyclists should negotiate the intersection of El Camino Real and Avenida Estacion, which will get a traffic signal. Right of way is limited in that area.
Cameron said the city expects some partially engineered answers in time to meet a June 9 deadline for a grant application.
Pete van Nuys, a San Clemente cycling expert, questioned whether the city is going too fast. He said he doesn't like what he called the Dana Point "cattle chute" approach and that he could envision a Class 1 trail halfway up the Marblehead Coastal bluff.
Brenda Miller, a local bicycle enthusiast and city planning commissioner, said the city needs to ensure connections to neighborhoods such as the Marblehead Coastal development and Shorecliffs. "Do it right rather than twice or thrice," she said.
Cameron said a route halfway up the bluff would be nice, and Marblehead Coastal developers show a walking trail there in their plans. Only the Marblehead Coastal stretch of bluff north to Camino Capistrano is suitable for the trail, Cameron added.
Though the city hopes to apply for an El Camino Real grant by June, Cameron said the city has longer to deal with options for Pico.