Huntington bicycle boulevard bonanza

February 6, 2014 by  

Huntington Beach officials are “spinning their wheels” – their bicycle wheels that is, thanks to a new $628,000 grant awarded to the city’s Public Works department.

Department staff applied to the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) for support to develop a Bicycle Boulevard as part of a larger master plan for the municipality.

While incorporating bikes as a transportation alternative is gaining ground in several metropolitan areas, the Bicycle Boulevard concept is just catching on. In fact, Huntington Beach will be the first location in the county to develop the idea. It’s a simple idea: make certain adjustments to a street location that favors bicyclists.

Boulevards are not the same as a street with dedicated bicycle lanes. Instead, the boulevard idea is that streets are selected with relatively low traffic and good connectivity to desirable destinations to have certain features added. These changes make the route more conducive to bicycle traffic. A common enhancement are the use of speed bumps or curb extensions to slow motor vehicles making it safer for bicycles to use the road.

Crucial to the effective integration of Bicycle Boulevards is public education. It is important not only to alert users to the boulevard’s existence but also to keep people informed as new features are implemented on a route. To be effective, the communications must be constantly updated and monitored and information disseminated in all kinds of ways from relatively low-tech poster printing to high-tech websites.

Utica Avenue has been proposed for Huntington Beach’s first Bicycle Boulevard. If all goes according to plan, the project will be incorporated into the city’s work plan for this current fiscal year.