By Shawn Raymundo
Bicyclists and electric-bike users in San Clemente could be looking at stricter regulations when it comes to riding around the city, namely along the Beach Trail and near the pier, as the City Council on Tuesday, Dec. 21, will consider whether new rules are needed.
Among the potential restrictions, the council will discuss a proposal by the city to ban all bikes and e-bikes from accessing the San Clemente Pier. Additionally, the city will also look for the council’s input on bicycle and e-bike use on San Clemente’s Beach Trail and sidewalks.
Tuesday night’s discussion comes several months after the council first approved an education campaign meant to address what many have considered reckless behavior from e-bike riders traveling excessive speeds on the coastal trail and in other parts of the town.
Back in February, the council voted to pursue an education blitz rather than imposing additional regulations, as city staff raised concerns about the lack of resources available to patrol the Beach Trail.
As part of the education campaign, the city, in partnership with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, held a Bike Safety Rodeo geared toward kids and teens, released a video focusing on e-bike safety, and added new signage on the Beach Trail instructing cyclists to walk their bikes in certain areas, such as on bridges and at the base of the pier.
An anonymous tip-line was also set up on the city’s website for residents to leave comments and information about incidents and other experiences with e-bike users throughout the city.
When councilmembers meet Tuesday night, they’ll be asked to provide direction on the use of e-bikes on the Beach Trail, an area that’s received considerable attention from concerned residents.
Councilmembers had previously been hesitant to support an outright ban of e-bikes on the trail without having any incident data available. Based on the number of reports the city received through the tip-line, consideration for a ban could be stronger now.
According to the city’s agenda report to the council, there were 367 resident-submitted comments. Much of that total, about 34%, focused on trail activity. Of those trail-related comments, 89% of them regarded incidents around the beaches and Beach Trail.
The city also noted in its report that 28% of the total comments were related to incidents on city streets, while another 14% were directed at sidewalks.
While the city is looking to the council for direction on bike and e-bike use on the Beach Trail and on sidewalks, it’s recommending the council have staff draft a policy amendment that would restrict bike access on the pier.
“Due to the increased use of bicycles and e-bicycles along the San Clemente Beach Trail, there has been a significant increase in the volume of bicycles and e-bicycles being walked, ridden, and parked on the San Clemente Pier,” the city said in its report.
Bikes are already prohibited from being ridden on the pier. However, if the new rule is approved, it would also mean that bikes could no longer be pushed, walked, or parked on the pier.
To accommodate cyclists who would be impacted by the potential prohibition, the city is also proposing to add more bike racks at the base of the pier.
The council is scheduled to first meet in closed session at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, before convening the public session at the San Clemente Community Center, located at 100 Calle Seville, at 6 p.m. The meeting can also be viewed online through the city’s YouTube channel.
Shawn Raymundo is the managing editor for Picket Fence Media. He graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies. Before joining Picket Fence Media, he worked as the government accountability reporter for the Pacific Daily News in the U.S. territory of Guam. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnzyTsunami and follow San Clemente Times @SCTimesNews.