COSTA MESA, CA—The Orange County TransportationAuthority is working to develop and promote a regionalbicycling network that would help ease automobile congestion andenhance community connections in places like GardenGrove and Costa Mesa.

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That plan was part of a discussion program, Planning forBikes in the City, that was hosted recently by theUrban Land Institute in Costa Mesa.

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About 70 people attended the discussion, which was led by agroup of local officials and planning experts. One of them arrivedby bicycle from Irvine.

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Older communities, like Garden Grove and Santa Ana, areovercoming a constrained built infrastructure as they look to servevulnerable bicycle users, said Garden Grove city council memberSteve Jones.

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Jones revealed plans for an “open streets” festival to enliventhe downtown, blocking off automobile traffic to create pedestrianand bike districts. The city has hired AaronPaley, co-founder of CicLAvia to help planre:imagine Garden Grove, which is scheduled forSept. 12, and should give residents an idea of howbiking can be an integral part of their daily mobility.

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EmileHaddad ofFivePointCommunities is hopingto boost the power of the bike as a social tool that connectspeople. She want to give every home in the Great Park Neighborhoodsa trademark orange bike that will help neighbors identify eachother, a measure that she hopes would lead to a bike shareprogram. “Bikes connect ages, genders, ethnicities,” saidHaddad. “Unfortunately, we don't have the safety aspectfigured out yet and that is what we need to focus on.”

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Charles Larwood of OCTA expanded upon theagency's goals of funding and promoting an OC regional bikenetwork. For each of the five districts in the county, regionalcorridors have been identified and $4.5 million ofCongestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement(CMAQ) funds, have been earmarked to fill the gaps in thesecorridors. OCTA Bikeshare has begun a pilotproject in Fullerton with 11 docking stations thatcosts as low as $45/year, $12/week, or $5/day.

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Making cyclist feel more safe and comfortable was a major themeof last week's discussion.

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“Only when safety and comfort level have improved, will we beginto see increased female ridership and more families in bike lanes,”said Brett Hondorp of Alta Planning +Design.

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David Phillips

David Phillips is a Chicago-based freelance writer and consultant with more than 20 years experience in business and community news. He also has extensive reporting experience in the food manufacturing industry for national trade publications.