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Editorial:

Bike trail should have full support

December 30, 2007

Let’s face it: The shoulder of the road isn’t what it used to be.

Nobody feels safe anymore riding a bicycle along the average Newport-Mesa street.

With its high concentration of gigantic sport utility vehicles driven by distracted cellphone users, it’s a hazardous pursuit.

We have a few dedicated bike trails, but they are generally overused, or too challenging for the average recreational rider because they are designed for mountain biking.

There just aren’t many safe places to ride a bicycle in Orange County.

So why is it such a contentious issue that some people want to turn a part of a flood control channel in a Mesa Del Mar neighborhood into a bike trail?

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Such trails already run throughout the state and make ingenious use of scenic areas that are unfettered by traffic.

A feasibility study on the proposed trail was shot down at a City Council meeting earlier this month. Only council members Katrina Foley and Linda Dixon voted in favor of the project.

The trail would be a paved byway running along the Paularino flood control channel and would connect existing bike trails on the east and west sides of the city. It would be financed by a South Coast Air Quality Management District grant.

Some neighbors say the path would provide a conduit for crime. They say they are worried about threats to their children’s safety and to their property values.

What seems much more worrisome to us is the message we may be sending to our kids by killing this project: that a bike path is a bad thing.

Instead, we should be supporting a project that gives all of us a little bit more open space. We should grab every opportunity we can to encourage our kids — and ourselves — to get outside and exercise, enjoy the environment we’re blessed with and commune with nature and each other.

It should have been an automatic yes vote. Instead, the project has been cast as another opportunity to fear our neighbors.


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