VC Star: It’s spring — and that means bicycles are out: Be safe

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VC Star discusses the HUB Club Youth Program and cycling partnerships for safety in Ventura County. (30 March 2017)

Springtime traditionally brings bicyclists out to enjoy the warm sunshine, and local bicycle advocacy groups want to make sure they ride safely.

At a recent launch of BikeVentura, Yvonne Adan, the group’s chairman, explained that the group formally known as VCCool — Ventura Climate Care Options Organized Locally — has changed its focus to safe bicycling in Ventura County. That covers everything from teaching kids bike safety and bike mechanics to pushing for master plans that emphasize bike paths.

At the Ventura Bike HUB, located at 1150 N. Ventura Ave., bicyclists can repair their bikes and youngsters can learn safety tips.

“We not only teach bike safety, we teach kids to be bike mechanics,” Adan said. “This also allows kids to interact with each other in a positive way in a group, and learn to respect each other.”

Working with the Channel Islands Bicycle Club, BikeVentura also sponsors a bike rodeo and bike inspections at the Ventura Unified School District’s annual Summerfest celebration.

Both BikeVentura and the Channel Islands Bicycle Club are pushing for better bike trails in Ventura County, such as the Santa Paula Branch Line, which has long been proposed to run through the Heritage Valley from Santa Clarita to Ventura. Right now, there are only two portions along an old railroad track — one running through Santa Paula and another in Fillmore.

“The Santa Paula Branch Line is in a stagnant place,” Adan said. “This is one of the projects we’d like to push forward because it has great potential to bring tourist dollars into Ventura County. Los Angeles is waiting for us to connect, so people can go from Santa Clarita to the beach.”

Kate Faulkner, treasurer and government liaison of the Channel Islands club, said more people would be bicycling if there were more paths separated from vehicular traffic, such as the trails that link Ventura and Ojai.

“There’s a big concern for safety when you’re on the road,” Faulkner said. “Something cyclists look for are places to ride that are the safest. There have been major improvements in the last decade in the cycling infrastructure. But we still have a lot to do.”

The new Rincon Bike Trail, which opened the corridor along Highway 101 from Carpinteria to Ventura, is proving a boon to bicycling tourism, Adan and Faulkner agreed.

“This was (Ventura County) Supervisor Steve Bennett’s brainchild, but we also have a number of tourism bureaus in the area that are completely engaged,” Faulkner said. “They know that more cyclists mean more visitors who bring more money into our area.”

In addition to pushing for more bike trails, the groups are focusing on improving signs and road markings on public roads so bikes and automobiles can move quickly and safely over shared routes.

For information about BikeVentura and the Ventura Bike HUB, call 641-2665 or go online to vccool.org/.

For information about the Channel Islands Bicycle Club go to www.cibike.org/.

For information about city of Ventura bicycle classes, which include safety and bicycle repair, call 654-7849 or go to www.cityofventura.net/bicycling-and-walking. A new series of classes starts Tuesday.