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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Foothills Sentry

Jamboree Road commuter bikeway option applauded by park enthusiasts

By Tina Richards Following five months of com-

munity outrage against a pro- posed paved bikeway that would bisect Peters Canyon Park, OC Parks unveiled two variations of an alternate route that would complete that leg of the county- wide bike trail system without disturbing the park’s quiet natural ambiance. Aligned with Jamboree Road,

the alternate plan would connect with an existing trail at Canyon View, and another at Portola Park- way. In one scenario, the bikeway would parallel Jamboree the en- tire way. In another, it would di- vert away from the thoroughfare just below the OC Fire Authority

facility, head east along the ridge, and connect with Portola several blocks south of Jamboree. Either way, the bikeway would be sepa- rated from Jamboree Road traffic by a physical buffer. The Jamboree alternative was introduced at a public meeting, Oct. 7, along with a more detailed presentation of the original route through Peters Canyon. The paved park path would be sepa- rated from the existing hiking/rid- ing trail by at least two feet, but the two tracks would intersect in four places. The proximity of the trails, coupled with the crossings, raised safety concerns among park users who don’t think speed- ing street bikers are a good mix with hikers and horses.

Sparks and ride While the overwhelming ma-

jority of the nearly 200 people in attendance applauded the Jambo- ree alignment, OC Parks stressed that a final decision had not been made, and that both routes were still open to discussion. “What’s left to discuss?” one

park enthusiast shouted from the audience. “We rejected the route through Peters back in April. I thought it was dead.” Apparently, it’s not. Among

the throng of Friends of Peters Canyon members in attendance and a youthful contingent from the Equalizers Running Club, a handful of two-wheel commuters argued that the park route was su- perior to the traffic on Jamboree. Pointing out that Peters Canyon is a county park paid for by OC tax- payers, and not just the province of North Tustin and East Orange residents, several speakers said it should accommodate all users – including street bikers. Another noted that paving the trail would allow more access to people in wheelchairs and using walkers who could not easily navigate the uneven dirt terrain. And another pointed out that street bikers on the paved trail would not be speeding any more than mountain bikers on the park’s natural trails.

Horse sense Most meeting attendees, how-

Proposed Jamboree bike route.

ever, challenged those arguments and insisted that the county select the Jamboree route. Paved park opponents lament the negative

impact on wildlife, natural habitat and the park’s peaceful setting, but safety is their primary con- cern. Peters Park, it was noted, is a long narrow canyon character- ized by steep terrain. Most of the existing hiking and riding trails have significant elevation chang- es. Downhill riders do gather speed, and the park’s topography is friendly only to the hardy. Fur- ther, Peters Canyon is not large enough to serve every variety of user -- and it is already the most overused facility in the regional park system. The proposal to pave a trail throughPetersCanyoncamewhen OC Parks’ work on an overall de- velopment plan for the resource met the Orange County Transpor- tation Authority’s (OCTA) desire to complete a planned system of commuter bikeways that had been conceived in the 1970s. In a conceptual drawing from that period, a bike lane was penciled in through what was then open space, but is now Peters Canyon Regional Park. OCTA wants to finalize that portion of the overall bikeway – it’s one of two holes yet to be filled in. OC Parks is not opposed to the bikeway, but wants to ensure that the park’s recreational and wildlife assets are protected. Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who

hosted the meeting, reported at the onset that “the question is, how do we all get along? How do we satisfy all users?” He ex- plained that OCTA was trying to connect bikeways that are now

“mish-mashy,” and that the Pe- ters Canyon portion was a small part of a larger discussion. “It’s hard to make everybody happy,” he said.

Too many cooks OC Parks Director Stacy Blackwell acknowledged that while the Peters Canyon align- ment was created in a planning document 40 years ago, it may not be appropriate now. “The plan will not be perfect,” she said, “but it will be the best we can do, topographically and en- vironmentally, and providing the most possible recreational oppor- tunities.” Of the alternatives presented

at the meeting, the park route is the least expensive and easiest to complete. A Class I trail follow- ing Jamboree and meandering behind the Fire Authority would be the most costly, and the most difficult to make happen. “The county already owns Peters Can- yon,” Spitzer explained. The Jamboree route is multi-jurisdic- tional – three cities, the county and Caltrans. “You have to think about the probability of it actu- ally happening,” he said. An online petition, champi-

oned by Friends of Peters Can- yon that opposes the park route has been signed by 2,906 people. An OC Bike Club petition that supports the paved path through the park has been signed by 327 people. OC Parks plans to hold another public hearing on the topic later this year.

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