By Eric Heinz
At its meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 21, the San Clemente City Council approved an amendment to its ordinances that regulate bicycles on the Beach Trail and beaches.
Bicycles and e-bikes are allowed on the Beach Trail except from June 15 to Labor Day, when there is peak pedestrian traffic in the area.
Samantha Thomas, the Beaches, Parks and Recreation (BP&R) director, said the commission assigned to these new laws recommended lowering the speed limit to 8 miles per hour, but City Council in its Tuesday deliberations said that would be hard to enforce and maintained the speed limit at 10 miles per hour and voted to give enforcement discretion to park monitors and its Retired Seniors Volunteer Program (RSVP) officers.
There are different classes of electronic bicycles, with class I and II being allowed on the city beach trail, but class III, the fastest class with the most powerful motors, would be prohibited on the trails.
“We’re going to work with RSVPs on the amendment…and we’ll work with Marine Safety, since they’re focused on the water,” Thomas said.
Enforcement of the new regulations will include giving the park monitors ticketing authority at their discretion if they observe unruly behavior or aggressive driving by bicyclists.
The City Council also amended the ordinance to prohibit bicycles on the beach because some electronic bicycles have the ability to traverse the sand and could become a safety issue with the volume of foot traffic by pedestrians who frequent the area.
Bikes of all kinds would have to be walked along the bridges and narrow areas of the trail where it’s a tight squeeze to fit the bicycles anyway.
Thomas said there is signage along the Beach Trail today, but BP&R staff is going into further review to see if there are other ways to educate the public about the new regulations.
“Hopefully it brings awareness to bikers and pedestrians and the expectations of actions on the Beach Trail,” Thomas said.
City Councilmember Lori Donchack said she also wanted to explore the city’s bicycle ordinances on sidewalks and other areas of the city at a later time.