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Uncertainties, Problems With Bicycle Detours

June 27, 1993

* In an editorial ("Bike Trail Detours Are Price of Progress" June 20), The Times advised Santa Ana River Trail bicyclists to be patient while the trail is disrupted due to flood control construction by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Orange County Bicycle Coalition feels that, while patience is certainly a virtue and trail detours on the public streets may at times be needed, still some hard questions remain that deserve answers:

* Do the construction contracts let by the Corps really say, "A safe and continuous bicycle trail through the project area shall be open at all times"? Did the bids include costs for this? If so, and if now it is not being done (for reasons however good), where did the money go?

* Considering the mix of trail users, and the contract provisions quoted above, should on-street detours be kept to a minimum? Has this been done?

* If and when on-street detours are necessary, has the Corps ensured that they meet Orange County or California standards? Have the Corps or the county obtained the necessary permits from the cities involved? Has proper concern been shown for cyclists' safety?

* When all the work is done, will the trail conform to state or county standards--or will it be, as its present design appears to the Orange County Bicycle Coalition, in nearly total violation in regard to grades, sight lines, sag and crest curves, and radii of curvature, so as to endanger its users?

The coalition feels a responsibility for the safety not only of the 2,500 cyclists we are authorized to represent, but of all trail users. We have met several times with the County Environmental Management Agency, the county lead agency on these issues, but the Corps has not been helpful. Now, at Supervisor Harriett M. Wieder's request, a series of regular meetings between the coalition and the county has begun.

The county's patience seems to be wearing thin. The coalition feels it would be more useful for The Times to help get these questions answered than to counsel patience to bicyclists.

DON HARVEY

Vice chairman,

Orange County Bicycle Coalition

Newport Beach

* After handing out flyers for the Orange County Bike Coalition concerning the closure of the bike trail (Santa Ana River) in Fountain Valley, my wife and I took the designated detours to the beach. We became quite distressed as to how bicyclists were led to the ocean.

Imagine a family of four, directed to ride on busy streets, asked to make left turns into traffic, use a sidewalk blocked with dirt (in the vicinity of Victoria Street and Canyon Drive), and then crossing the now reopened section of the bike trail on Hamilton Avenue and Brookhurst Street (without being advised of its reopening, with appropriate signs). This is not the way to "pay the price of progress."

The construction companies, as well as our representatives, need to review what's going on with this safe path to the beach. We need to make an appropriate correction to our thinking concerning bicyclists. Bicycles are not toys. Cycling is an authentic means of transportation in Southern California, even behind the Orange Curtain.

MARK DuBOURDIEU

Fountain Valley

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