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Eyes on the Street: Chestnut/Cypress Bike Lane Connects Trail to Downtown Santa Ana

2:22 PM PDT on August 31, 2017

For the past year, 58-year-old Emilio Rojas would travel two miles by bike to arrive at his job at a local lonchera just south of downtown Santa AnaSometimes he'd take the 2.1-mile north-south Pacific Electric bike trail most of the way, but he usually preferred riding on sidewalks on Orange Avenue.

But last month, new bike lanes appeared on his route, and he's been using them. Roughly 1.1-miles of green-striped bike lanes and sharrows were painted on Cypress Avenue, Bush Street, and Chestnut Avenue, creating the city's first bicycle route connecting the city's south to the downtown area.

"We had to be careful of the cars when there was no bike lane," Rojas said in Spanish. "But now, motorists know that there is a lane and that they have to be careful."

Emilio Rojas, 58, works at food truck at the corner of Walnut and Cypress. Rojas rides his bike 2 miles away and uses the newly added bike lanes to get to work.
Emilio Rojas, 58, works at a food truck at the corner of Walnut and Cypress. Rojas rides his bike two miles to his job and uses the new bike lanes to get there.

The bike connections were funded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Partnerships to Improve Community Health program. The city of Santa Ana was awarded roughly $415,000 over three years for planning and construction of bicycle and pedestrian improvements, and the Chestnut/Cypress bike lanes used roughly $108,000. The money went for design and construction of the connector route.

The project was pushed for years by community groups like KidWorks and Santa Ana Active Streets. Those group saw a need to connect the Pacific Electric trail--a former Pacific Electric interurban railway corridor--with the surrounding neighborhoods and downtown, said Cory Wilkerson, Santa Ana's active transportation coordinator.

"This project is what I considered low hanging fruit [because] it provides a crucial connection," Wilkerson said.

Below are some photos of the new connection:

Signs remind cyclists to ride with traffic along the Cypress Avenue bike lane.
Looking east on Chestnut Avenue, bike lane signage were installed to street signs.
Looking east on Chestnut Avenue. Bike lane signage was added to existing street signs.
Sharrows on Cypress Avenue approaching First Street. First Street has roughly 7 lanes of traffic, so crossing by bike is a lengthy maneuver.
Sharrows were added to Cypress Avenue approaching First Street. First Street has roughly seven lanes of traffic, so crossing by bike is a complicated maneuver, and these sharrows help bike riders position themselves safely in the lane.
Bicyclists riding west on the Chestnut Avenue bike lane.
A bicyclist rides west on the new Chestnut Avenue bike lane.

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