Bicycle riders have become more vocal in arguing for a better share of the pavement on streets around Orange County. Pedestrians, too, need some room to walk. In a county that has seen explosive development in recent decades, both sometimes feel like endangered species.
The federal government recently allocated $6.4 million for these groups, with bike and pedestrian trails planned along two railroad corridors. The improvements are being touted in part as better ways to get from one place to another within the county.
In fact, these pathways are unlikely to provide the kind of serviceable commuter routes that the Orange County Bicycle Coalition has been talking about. Nevertheless, they will be a welcome addition to the county's recreational routes, which are important on their own merits. This also will be true for those on foot who are out to enjoy the county's landscapes and seascapes.
In San Clemente, a 2.6-mile stretch of beachfront property between the sand and railroad tracks will become a trail wisely fenced to restrict access across rails. With millions of visitors annually coming to county beaches, the safety issue is paramount. The county also ought to look at ways of providing the scenic route with a fence that isn't also an eyesore.
The Tustin Branch Rail Trail will go along a Southern Pacific Railroad right-of-way abandoned after a flood in 1969. This route also promises to deliver some serene and eye-catching vistas in Tustin and other areas. It will make for a pleasant getaway from the world of malls, office complexes and housing tracts.
Providing better access and vistas along the coast is an enduring passion; San Clemente reports that it found files going back decades suggesting these improvements. In Crystal Cove State Park up the coast, a Corona del Mar High School teacher has been working with Caltrans, the State Department of Parks and Recreation and the county to clear saltbush from along the bicycle route to improve the view.
Cheers for those who are persistent and dedicated about making our wonderful stretch of coastal and inland routes accessible to those on foot and bike.