MOORLACH UPDATE — Bicycle Safety — August 26, 2014

In the late 1970s, I rode my 10-speed bicycle to work. My first home was not that far from my firm’s office, so the exertion was minimal. I enjoyed the open air, the exercise, the savings on gasoline and less wear and tear on my car. And I did it in my suit and tie, using a backpack as my briefcase. But, riding a bicycle requires that you know and follow proper safety rules and etiquette. For a tutorial on this topic, go to https://www.octa.net/Share-the-Ride/Safety-Awareness/Adult-Bike-Safety/?terms=bike%20safety. Sharing the road with vehicles is a serious undertaking. I am amazed here in the Civic Center when I see bicycle riders on the wrong side of the road or blazing through intersections where there are not four stop signs and the rider assumes that I’m supposed to stop. There’s nothing more terrifying than having to slam on the brakes to avoid a bicycle rider who is not paying attention. When asked, I refer to the last mile or so of my commute to the office as the Bermuda Triangle. It’s best to drive very slowly and to make eye contact with every pedestrian and bicyclist. I shared my concerns about untrained bicyclists at Monday morning’s Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) Board meeting and the Voice of OC picked it up in the first piece below.

The second piece is from the Fountain Valley Patch and provides an update on AB 1453 (see MOORLACH UPDATE — You’re Being Political — April 9, 2014, MOORLACH UPDATE — Man of the Year — April 11, 2014, and MOORLACH UPDATE — You’re Being Political — April 9, 2014). Promising something to someone and then not delivering on that promise can become a root cause of bitterness and mistrust. You have to be very careful with your children, your friends, and, in business, your colleagues and clients, when you tell them that you will do something and then you don’t. For the veterans in Orange County, please be fully aware that providing a cemetery on the former El Toro Marine Base may be a very long-term proposition.

BONUS: For a recent speech, I provided the condensed consolidated balance sheets of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs as of September 30, 2012, which shows a net deficit of $1.7 trillion (not $1.2 trillion, as mentioned in the piece).

OC Cities Leaving State Money on the Table for Bike Safety

By NICK GERDA Voice of OC

Despite an ongoing awareness effort, many Orange County cities are still not taking full advantage of state money to improve their infrastructure to make things safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.

In a recent competition for $184 million in state grants for active transportation projects, 11 Orange County cities — including some with relatively large populations like Buena Park and Mission Viejo — didn’t submit proposals, according to state records.

And of the cities that did apply, some were more ambitious than others.

Santa Ana, for example, submitted 11 projects worth up to $6.7 million, and received $3.3 million in funding. But Garden Grove – which has about half the population as Santa Ana – requested just two projects worth $350,000 and ended up getting no funding.

Together, Anaheim and Santa Ana were able to garner $5.7 million for bike and pedestrian projects.

In Anaheim, improvements include a pedestrian signal on Western Ave. and closing sidewalk gaps on South St. and Cerritos Ave.

In Santa Ana, funding is slated to help with the city’s complete streets plan, safe school route improvements for Heninger, King and Washington elementary schools, and the creation of a bike boulevard identified as “Bishop-Pacific-Shelton.”

The new state funding comes amid a nationwide movement toward making cities safer and more accessible for cyclists and pedestrians.

“We’re definitely seeing this whole space of bicycle projects catching on,” said Orange County Transportation Authority Chairman Shawn Nelson at Monday’s board meeting, where the bike projects were discussed.

Advocates argue cycling boosts physical and mental health, encourages a sense of connection with communities and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, tensions have sometimes arisen over to how balance space between cars and bicyclists.

Increasing rates of injuries and deaths among cyclists prompted an April forum at which government officials from across Orange County gathered with dozens of activists to hear their ideas about increasing bike safety.

At the meeting, OCTA officials unveiled a public awareness video and website aimed at teaching cyclists and drivers how to navigate the road safely. The agency has budgeted $250,000 in the current fiscal year for the effort.

After the event, the transportation agency’s officials said they planned to take a close look at the advocates’ ideas and keep the conversation going.

At Monday’s meeting, a local biking activist chided OCTA officials for not continuing to meet with activists and moving more quickly to implement safety improvements.

“Why is it Long Beach and other cities are buying into this and we” as the county of Orange can’t, asked resident Craig Durfey.

OCTA spokesman Joel Zlotnik said the agency plans to follow up on the spring meeting with a roundtable workshop in San Juan Capistrano on September 17.

Going forward, local cities are competing for a larger share of active transportation funding through the Southern California Association of Governments.

Orange County communities are slated for $13 million in that round of grants, more than double what local cities received in the first round.

OCTA board members have chosen 16 projects for that process, including several to help complete the cross-county Orange County Bicycle Loop.

The bike loop is also the subject of two community forums this week designed to gather public input on how to complete the loops.

Tuesday’s forum is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Seal Beach Community Center (3333 Saint Cloud Drive). Wednesday’s is planned for 6 p.m. at the Fullerton Community Center (340 West Commonwealth Ave.).

The issue of bike safety has certainly been on the minds of local elected officials, who themselves often face dangerous situations as cyclists or drivers.

Transportation board member John Moorlach, who is also a county supervisor, noted on Monday that the streets where he works in Santa Ana can be fraught with danger.

“I drive through Santa Ana every day, and I get so scared watching these guys riding their bikes, thinking, ‘no wonder we have people getting hit,’ ” said Moorlach.

Legislation to Create O.C.’s First Veterans Cemetery Headed to Governor’s Desk

The bill appropriates $500,000 for the Department of Veterans Affairs for a study on planning for the cemetery at the Great Park in Irvine.

By Penny Arévalo

Legislation was on its way to the governor’s desk today that could eventually lead to the only cemetery for veterans in Orange County at the site of the old El Toro military base that is now home to the Orange County Great Park in Irvine.

The state Senate today approved the bill introduced by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton. It appropriates $500,000 for the Department of Veterans Affairs as “start-up” costs for a study on planning for the cemetery, Quirk-Silva said.

“The actual official next step, if the governor signs it, would be to create a study and plan that needs to be submitted to the federal government in a formal application process,” Quirk-Silva told City News Service.

State officials will be counting on the federal government to pay for the cemetery with grants that are awarded annually, Quirk-Silva said.

There’s urgency to build a cemetery in Orange County because the one in Los Angeles is at capacity and there’s a “long wait” for veterans to be buried in the one in Riverside County, Quirk-Silva said.

Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, who spoke out in April at a county board meeting against the way the push for a cemetery has been handled, said he supports having one in Orange County, but the political leaders advocating for it ought to be honest with veterans and their supporters that it is a long shot.

Moorlach said he hasn’t changed his mind.

“What I have real trouble with is you’re manipulating veterans with such a low likelihood of getting the funding,” Moorlach said.

“When you kind of give out hope — when the chance of getting funding is so remote — and then use it in campaign mail pieces to say, ‘Hey, I’m doing this for veterans,’ then you’re manipulating a group of people I’m very sensitive to.”

Two other counties in California are vying for new cemeteries, so any Orange County bid would be third in line, Moorlach added.

Moorlach also noted that the Veterans Administration has a balance sheet that’s “upside down $1.2 trillion and they can’t even run their hospitals right.”

With veterans, “This is one group I don’t want to over promise and under deliver,” Moorlach said.

Quirk-Silva said the county has no shot whatsoever without passing the bill she introduced.

“We can’t apply to the federal government without the legislation,” Quirk-Silva said.

Quirk-Silva pointed out the bill has been supported by 19 Orange County cities and more than 3,000 people have contacted her office to back it.

In July, the Irvine City Council designated up to 125 acres of the Great Park, once home to the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, for use as a cemetery.

–City News Service

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