For the third consecutive session, the Coronado City Council at their meeting of Tuesday, September 15, 2015, heard public input and discussed a bicycle-related issue. At issue was the city’s plan to incorporate appropriate bicycle lane markings when one-seventh of the city’s streets were scheduled to be slurry sealed. Although attendance at the Sept. 15 session didn’t reach the record level of the Sept. 1 council meeting, when a $100,000 appropriation for a study that included the option of a bike path on the beach was de-funded, the council chamber was still full.
Specifically the 2015 slurry seal project included the following bike lane markings delineated in the city staff’s report, which were originally planned to be installed starting the week of Sept. 14, 2015:
• Olive Avenue: Install new buffered bike lanes and convert existing angled parking to back-in angled parking.
• Alameda Boulevard: Install new buffered and non-buffered bike lanes, except for the portion between Third and Fourth Streets.
• Tenth Street from Alameda Boulevard to Orange/D alley: Install new bike lanes.
• Install new shared lane markings (sharrows) on I and J Avenues; on Orange Avenue between First and Third Streets; and along Second and Fifth Streets.
The city staff’s perspective was presented to the council and the public by Director of Public Services Cliff Maurer, who delineated the following points:
• Bike lanes create safer conditions for cyclists and motorists including reduced traffic speeds.
• Bicyclists have a legal right to use public roads.
• The city of Coronado supports alternative transportation methods.
• Cyclists and pedestrians don’t mix well
• The markings improve safety for cyclists that are already present in the city.
A total of 33 speakers addressed the city council when the bike marking plan was presented. A total of 21 speakers were against the plan; nine speakers were in support of the bike marking plan; and three speakers addressed related issues including speeding, the need for bike education and that overall safety was the overriding issue at hand.
Objections to the bike markings came in the following general categories:
• The need for creating and implementing the bike marking plan hasn’t been proven.
• Markings provide riders with a false sense of security and the lack of room for a door zone adjacent to the existing bike lanes is an issue.
• Vehicle speed reductions can be attributed to speed bumps rather than the presence of existing bike lane markings.
• Property values and neighborhood aesthetics will be adversely impacted by bike markings.
• Residents of Olive Avenue, which consists of four and one-half blocks and is one-half mile in length, are adamant that bike lane striping on the picturesque street is not needed.
By their own admission, the majority of the councilmembers took recommendations proscribed in the city’s Bicycle Master Plan as being advisory in nature. When the first new bike lane markings were proposed for the city, citizens from some of the potentially impacted neighborhoods in Coronado strenuously objected to the plan. So much so that the city council cancelled their installation. The piecemeal implementation of the bike marking plan had the unintended consequence of putting most neighborhoods where bike lane markings were planned in defense mode, followed by an aggressive campaign to not mark their streets. As Mayor Casey Tanaka said during the council’s deliberations, “I don’t want a system where residents can request a bike lane. These reviews are unhealthy for the council and the community.”
The sense of the council seemed that the time for universal bike markings throughout the city has not yet arrived in Coronado, but how should the city proceed? The four councilmembers present, Mike Woiwode was out of town on business, were in agreement that bike lanes work. Councilmember Bill Sandke said, “Tenth Street is a good site for a bike lane, but we should throttle back the Olive Avenue markings.”
Tanaka proposed taking an advisory vote to the public, to ask if the electorate was supportive of the creation of a bike loop around the city. Councilmember Richard Bailey was in general agreement with an advisory measure, but wanted a more complete bike plan for voter consideration. Bailey said, “The public deserves better than a piecemeal approach.”
Councilmember Carrie Downey said she was not interested in creating a bike loop around town; that Tenth Street would be a good site for a bike lane; and that the city needed a public workshop on the bike lane topic. She added, “We all agree we want safety, but what does it mean and how do we get there? I want to work on a plan before we have people vote on it.”
Bailey made a motion to suspend the bike lane marking plan for now, while moving forward on revising the Bicycle Master Plan as a high priority for the council. Downey asked that the motion be bifurcated into two motions. The council voted 4-0 to suspend the bicycle marking plan. Tanaka asked City Manager Blair King to make the consideration of the Bicycle Master Plan a high priority for a future city council meeting.
The street sealing for the areas noted above is scheduled to commence Monday, Sept. 28 with pavement markings installed as they currently exist.
In other city council actions:
• The city adopted a new fine system for the issuance of tickets for bicycle infractions. Bail amounts will now be $50 for the first offense, $100 for the second offense, and $250 for the third offense in a 12-month period. Police Chief Jon Froomin said under the current system, a $25 fine for not wearing a bike helmet becomes $198 after court fees are added. The motion to accept the new fine schedule passed 4-0.
• As part of the consent agenda, the council named Brenda Jo Robyn to fill an unexpired term on the city’s Cultural Arts Commission.
• Tanaka issued a proclamation in support of Fire Prevention Week. Fire Chief Mike Blood and Froomin then combined to announce Coronado’s 23rd Annual Open House that will feature the city’s Firefighters and Police Officers. The event will be held Sunday, Oct. 4 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The streets around the main firehouse will be closed, as well as the streets adjacent to the police department.
• During his monthly presentation to the council, Port Commissioner Garry Bonelli stated that Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, the Port Commission unanimously accepted the city of Coronado’s negative declaration for the extension of Dock ‘C’ in the city. Bonelli thanked Sandke and Asst. City Manager Tom Ritter for their testimony on the topic before the Port Board. Bonelli said the city should have a Coastal Development Permit for the project by next spring.
The next meeting of the Coronado City Council will be held Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015, at 4 p.m. Council meetings are held at City Hall, which is located at 1825 Strand Way in Coronado.