So. Cal. moped riders: please scroll down and “sign” the petition to allow mopeds on the 91 fwy bike trail.
Caltrans is the name of the California Department of Transportation. They build and maintain California’s highways and put up the signs and traffic signals, according to the United States rules and guidelines. Below are some US highway access signs, from the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Department of Transportation (DOT).
Above, more US highway access signs. Sign, sign, everywhere a sign… Is that a good sign or a bad sign?
There are several transportation corridors in So. Cal. that unfairly prohibit motor-driven cycles. They all have a natural feature, usually a mountain range or a body of water, that limits the choice of roads.
1. 91 Freeway/bike path connecting Anaheim with Corona:
The two mile strip of bike path, shown in the header above every page, along the 91 Riverside Freeway between Gypsum Canyon Road on the west and Green River Road on the east is the only way through the Santa Ana Canyon Corridor, besides the freeway. The freeway is posted “Pedestrians, Bicycles, Motor-driven Cycles Prohibited“.
Left, the Gypsum Canyon bridge over the Santa Ana River has this bike path next to the Featherly Park entrance. To go east you enter going west here. It loops under the bridge. Right, the end of Green River Road at county line. There were no signs when this photo was taken.
As you can see, the bike path used to be not well posted, but now is posted with signs on both ends saying “No Motor Vehicles – OCCO 2-5-29G. Here is the ordinance, Orange County Code of Ordinances:
Unauthorized Motor Vehicles. No person shall operate an unauthorized motor vehicle: Four-wheel drive vehicle, motorcycle, motor bike, motor dirt bike, all-terrain vehicle, off highway vehicle or any other motorized vehicle within any County owned, managed, or controlled reserve area, habitat sensitive area, wilderness area, natural area, open space area, undeveloped area, beach front area, turf area, or within river beds, stream beds, creek beds, wash areas, wetland areas, or recreational area trails.
For the purpose of subsection (g), “unauthorized motor vehicle” means any motorized vehicle that is driven upon said areas without written permission of the Director or his/her agents. This subsection does not apply to the operation of any publicly owned vehicle operated by a local, state or federal government agency, or by an authorized vehicle.
This means motor driven cycles can not legally travel east from south Los Angeles to Riverside, without going way, way around. This is wrong.
2. 15 Freeway/between Escondido & Rancho Bernardo:
North San Diego County bicyclists must ride on Interstate 15 for 1 mile, across Lake Hodges, near Escondido. But motor driven cycles and pedestrians must go 28 miles out of their way to get across the San Pasqual Valley. 28 compared to 1 is extremely unfair.
Left, northbound I-15 on ramp from Pomerado Rd. The word “bicycles” is blanked out. Right, southbound I-15 on ramp from Via Rancho Pkwy. The sign says “Pedestrians and Motor Driven Cycles Prohibited”. Both of these signs should be removed completely.
3. 5 Freeway/bike path between San Clemente and Oceanside
Travelling north on Interstate 5 in North San Diego County, north of Oceanside, is Camp Pendleton US Marine Corps base, occupying 18 miles of coastline and extending 8 miles inland. There are no frontage roads, other than the old Hwy 101 fragments that are for bicycles only. However, motor driven cycles are allowed on the 5 from Oceanside Harbor Blvd north to Las Pulgas Rd. From there they must enter Camp Pendleton (which has additional rules for motorcyclists). Las Pulgas connects to Basilone then to San Mateo and out the gate at the end of Los Christianitos in San Clemente, South Orange County.
Left, I-5 northbound on ramp from Oceanside Harbor Drive. The sign says “Pedestrians Prohibited”.
Right, I-5 northbound at Las Pulgas exit. The sign says “Bicycles and Motor Driven Cycles Must Exit”. This is what we want: bicycles and motor-driven cycles both allowed through when it is safe and there is no other way.
Travelling southbound on Interstate 5 from Los Angeles to San Diego, CA, at Los Christianitos Road in San Clemente, light motorcycles are prohibited from the 5 freeway and from the San Mateo Creek State Park bicycle path. They are forced to turn inland and go through Camp Pendleton, eventually coming out at Las Pulgas Rd. From there to Oceanside Harbor Drive, light motorcycles are allowed on the 5 freeway.
To get from San Clemente to Oceanside, there is a 3 way split. At right is the San Mateo Creek State Beach bike path where surfers walk to “Trestles”, where bicycles must go. The path goes to San Onofre State Beach, then enters Camp Pendleton by following old Hwy 101, crosses inland under I-5 and emerges at Las Pulgas Rd. At center is the I-5 on ramp that says “No Pedestrians Bicycles Motor Driven Cycles”, where cars and motorcycles must go. At left is Los Christianitos Rd that goes to the gate of Camp Pendleton, where motor driven cycles must go.
4. 75 Freeway/Coronado Bridge across San Diego Bay
Even bicyclists are not allowed on this scenic short cut to the Coronado Penninsula. If you are walking, riding a bicycle or light motorcycle, you have to go 18 miles around the long San Diego Bay instead of 1 mile over the bridge. Most traffic there is for the Naval Base Coronado.
With big bridges like this one, it is common practice to prohibit pedestrians, bicycles, and motor-driven cycles. The main reason is bridges do not have shoulders or wide right lanes like roads do. Here they have a problem with suicides – people jumping off. There are signs asking motorists to report possible suicides. Anyone who stops and gets out of their car is reported to 911.
5. 15 Freeway/Cajon Pass Cleghorn Rd to Hwy 138
Here the frontage road does not go through. The railroad mainlines, the broken up terrain of the San Andreas Fault, and the summit of the pass, all limit access through here. Fortunately, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) has stated that motor-driven cycles and bicycles are allowed, only on this 1 mile stretch of 15 Freeway. Sure enough, the images below show the “Pedestrians Bicycles Motor-driven Cycles Prohibited” signs are not anywhere to be seen. This is what we want: more light motorcycle access.
Left, southbound I15 on ramp at westbound Hwy 138, Cajon Pass. Nothing is prohibited there. Right, southbound I15 on ramp at eastbound Hwy 138. Nothing is prohibited there.
Prohibiting light motorcycles violates Caltrans Policies:
Fortunately, there exists policies already in place that apply here. In the Caltrans Highway Design Manual, located at www.dot.ca.gov/hq/oppd/hdm/hdmtoc.htm, in Chapter 31 – Nonmotorized Transportation Facilities, Section 2 - Application, Article 1 – Routes Severed by Freeways, it says:
Preserving Existing Nonmotorized Capabilities. Section 888 of the Streets and Highways (S&H) Code states that Caltrans will not construct a State highway or freeway that will result in the severance or destruction of an existing major route for nonmotorized traffic and light motorcycles unless it provides a reasonable, safe, and convenient alternate route or unless such a route already exists.
A “light motorcycle”, as used in the above context, is defined as a motor-driven cycle or a motorized bicycle, both of which are defined in Sections 405 and 406 of the Vehicle Code.
Types of Existing Major Routes
An existing major route for nonmotorized traffic may be any of the following:
- Conventional highway or expressway
- Sidewalk on a conventional highway: The sidewalk may be principally for pedestrian use but may also be used by bicyclists when permitted by local ordinance.
- Freeway shoulder on which bicycle traffic is permitted in accordance with Vehicle Code Section 21960, and for which no reasonable, safe, or convenient alternate route is available.
- Path within the freeway right of way
- Path outside the freeway right of way
- Path outside of the roadway
A reasonable, safe, and convenient alternate route can consist of a system of local routes or State highways. the alternate route should not consist of significant out-of-direction travel, additional grades of significant length or slope, or high-volume routes with narrow shoulders.
Proposals After Freeway Construction
Pursuant to Section 888 of the S&H Code, nonmotorized facilities proposed after a freeway has been constructed do not qualify as an “alternate route’ for a severed or destroyed nonmotorized route. Instead, such facilities are to be developed as a cooperative project under the provisions of Sections 887.6 and 888.2 of the S&H Code.
The intent of Caltrans is to provide a route for light motorcycles. In practice, light motorcycles get overlooked, because they are a minority compared to automobiles, motorcycles, and bicycles.
Here is more from Caltrans Highway Design Manual, located at www.dot.ca.gov/hq/oppd/hdm/hdmtoc.htm, in Chapter 100 – Basic Design Policies, Topic 116 – Bicyclists and Pedestrians on Freeways:
Seldom is a freeway shoulder open to bicycle, pedestrian, or other non-motorized travel, but they can be opened for use if certain criteria assessing the safety and convenience of the freeway, as compared with available alternate routes, is met. However, a freeway should not be opened to bicycle or pedestrian use if it is determined to be incompatible. The Headquarters traffic Liason and the Design Coordinator must approve any proposals to open freeways to bicyclists, pedestrian or other non-motorized use. See the California MUTCD and CVC Section 21960.
When a new freeway segment is to remain open or existing freeway segment is to be reopened to these modes, it is necessary to evaluate the freeway features for their compatibility with safe and efficient travel, including:
- Shoulder widths
- Drainage grates; see Index 1003.5(2)
- Expansion joints
- Utility access covers on shoulders
- Frequency and spacing of entrance/exit ramps
- Multiple-lane entrance/exit ramps
- Traffic volumes on entrance/exit ramps and on lanes merging into exit ramps
- Sight distance at entrance/exit ramps
- Freeway to freeway interchanges
- The presence and design of rumble strips
- Longitudinal edges and joints
If a freeway segment has no suitable non-freeway alternative and is closed because certain features are considered incompatible, the feasibility of eliminating or reducing the incompatible features should be evaluated. this evaluation may include removal, redesign, replacement, relocation, or retrofitting of the incompatible feature, or installation of signing, pavement markings, or other traffic control devices.
When no reasonable, convenient, and safe non-freeway alternative exists within a freeway corridor, the Department should coordinate with local agencies to develop new routes, improve existing routes or provide parallel bicycle and pedestrian facilities within or adjacent to the freeway right of way. See Project Development Procedures Manual Chapter 1, Article 3 (Regional and System Planning) and Chapter 31 (Non-motorized Transportation Facilities) for discussion of the development of non-freeway transportation alternatives.
Here is the California Vehicle Code 21960, about who can be on freeways:
Freeways and Expressways: Use Restrictions
21960. (a) The (California) Department of Transportation and local authorities, by order, ordinance, or resolution, with respect to freeways, expressways, or designated portions thereof under their respective jurisdictions, to which vehicle access is completely or partially controlled, may prohibit or restrict the use of freeways, expressways, or any portion thereof by pedestrians, bicycles, or other nonmotorized traffic or by any person operating a motor-driven cycle, motorized bicycle, or motorized scooter. A prohibition or restriction pertaining to bicycles, motor-driven cycles, or motorized scooters shall be deemed to include motorized bicycles; and no person may operate a motorized bicycle wherever that prohibition or restriction is in force. Notwithstanding any provisions of any order, ordinance, or resolution to the contrary, the driver or passengers of a disabled vehicle stopped on a freeway or expressway may walk to the nearest exit, in either direction, on that side of the freeway or expressway upon which the vehicle is disabled, from which telephone or motor vehicle repair services are available.
(b) The prohibitory regulation authorized by subdivision (a) shall be effective when appropriate signs giving notice thereof are erected upon any freeway or expressway and the approaches thereto. if any portion of a county freeway or expressway is contained withinc the limits of a city within the county, the county may erect signs on that portion as required under this subdivision if the ordinance has been approved by the city pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 1730 of the Streets and Highways Code.
(c) No ordinance or resolution of local authorities shall apply to any state highway until the proposed ordinance has been presented to, and approved in writing by, the Department of Transportation.
(d) An ordinance or resolution adopted under this section on or after January 1, 2005, to prohibit pedestrian access to a county freeway or expressway shall not be effective unless it is supported by a finding by the local authority that the freeway or expressway does not have pedestrian facilities and pedestrian use would pose a safety risk to the pedestrian.
The Santa Ana River Trail at 91 Fwy Corridor
Above, the first time Myrons Mopeds had a group ride through the corridor was December 2004. The lower right photo is of the eastern end of the bike path. You can clearly see there was no sign there at all. Now it’s June 2012, a big construction zone, as they move over the at-times-mighty Santa Ana River to make room for widening of the freeway. That will help the dreaded “Corona Crawl”. Now’s a good time, if it’s not too late, to get some of the Caltrans planners to remember that there are also light motorcycles who need to get through those millions of space and resource wasteful single occupant automobiles clogging the freeways. They should encourage us to ride smaller, slower motorcycles for many reasons, all of which are good for society. Crash a moped on your 25 mph residential street and it might cost $100 and some scraped skin. Crash a big fast bike at 80 mph on the freeway and watch the medical bills shoot up to $100,000, or 1000 times as much. Small slow bikes are safer. They save gas. They make less CO2. They take up less space. They should not be overlooked, but rather encouraged, like a “high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane encourages ride sharing, supposedly. A 120 lb moped carrying a 200 lb rider is, pound for pound, extremely high occupancy, equivalent to 30 people (6000 lb) sharing a 3600 lb vehicle. The moped should be rewarded and encouraged with that in mind.
Getting Caltrans to allow motor-driven cycles on the freeway there is prevented by the 241 Toll Road connector ramps that merge into the 91 just east of the Gypsum Canyon on/off ramps. They would not want to let 30mph bikes merge with 70mph autos. They would have to build little underpasses to let the slow moving light motorcycles not cross the faster regular traffic, that often hits 70 and 80mph. On the other hand, getting the thousands of recreational bicyclists and campers at Canyon RV Park to let a few dozen small motorcycles (too small for freeway) share their beloved non-motorized scenic path will not be easy. The same way that physically handicapped people got all the sidewalks re-sloped and rubberized for wheel chairs and power chairs, even though they’re a very small minority, us “light motorcycle” users should be able to get through these corridors, because it’s unfair to prohibit us! We need to get to work everyday or travel across country sometimes too. Not everyone drives a car, just like not everyone can step up and down curbs. 99% of us can, but about 1% can not.