A small crowd of neighbors showed up at Rolling Hills Estates City Hall Tuesday to learn more about the proposed final design of what has been dubbed the Palos Verdes Drive North Bike Lane Project.
It includes plans for 1.3 miles of bike lanes, among other improvements. The modifications, which are estimated to cost $2.8 million, would take place on Palos Verdes Drive North from Crenshaw Boulevard to the western city limits, according to plans drafted by the city.
The final design also incorporates public input, said Assistant City Manager Greg Grammer. City Traffic Engineer Erik Zandvliet conducted Tuesday night’s presentation, which was punctuated by comments from the more than 20 area residents who showed up.
The plan includes raised center medians to “help avoid head-on collisions by separating that traffic,” Zandvliet said. Street resurfacing, rolled curbs and merging lanes are intersections are also part of the design.
The plan also includes two traffic signals being added at Palos Verdes Drive North’s intersections with Crenshaw and Hawthorne Boulevards and dual left turning lanes eastbound on Palos Verdes Drive North at Hawthorne.
There would also be a “mixed use path for bikers and less experienced cyclists and pedestrians,” Zandvliet said.
However, this news was met with disapproval by a couple of residents concerned about children on bicycles not being separated from children who were walking for safety purposes.
“The shared use lane is appropriate for them to use,” Grammer said. “It’s slower.”
Grammer said the plan would prevent “high-speed bicyclists” from using the bike path.
“We are improving the overall bicycle and pedestrian safety along this corridor,” Grammer said.
Another concern has been the proposed removal of pepper trees in the area, something that Zandvliet said has "been an issue."
Cat Spydell, speaking on behalf of the Palos Verdes Tree Society, presented a petition with 369 signatures in favor of the city considering other design alternatives, so they would not have to remove so many trees as part of the plan. Keeping the pepper trees is about preserving the rural character of their neighborhood, she said.
“We are trying to preserve the trees wherever possible,” Zandvliet said.
Donna Tarr was concerned about whether emergency vehicles would be able to travel through the area.
“Responders are able to go on the opposite side of the road,” Zandvliet said. “The space between the median and the rolled curb is enough for two cars.”
In response to concerns about whether horses would have enough time to cross in the designated crosswalks—particularly at Hawthorne Boulevard—Zandvliet said extra time was would be added to the signals at the crosswalks.
There were also concerns about fewer areas for parking near Rancho Vista Elementary School.
Ed Mohr, a cyclist who lives in the neighborhood, applauded the city’s work.
“You did a great job pulling this together,” Mohr said. “I think everyone’s being heard, and that’s great.”
Jennifer Ise pointed out that more people may have shown up for the meeting if the name “bike plan project” had not been used.
Rolling Hills Estates Mayor Susan Seamans said the plan’s name should be changed since referring to it as the bike lane project is a “misnomer.”
The city plans to recommend to city council at next Tuesday’s meeting that city staff be authorized to solicit bids for the project, Grammer said.
If all goes according to plan, a contract would be awarded by the end of the year with construction scheduled to begin in the spring of 2013, Grammer said.