By Taylor Villanueva
Signal Staff Writer
Throughout the Santa Clarita Valley is a system of pedestrian paths that has grown over the years. These paths are the work of city planners, engineers and builders.
While some trails started as ideas from the need of residents and community members, the city of Santa Clarita and the county have created a partnership with those who enjoy the great outdoors for a chance to constantly innovate and create a more enjoyable experience for walkers and riders.
There are multiple groups in the Santa Clarita Valley that come together to advocate for better, more efficient walking and biking trails for the purpose of leisure and convenience.
One of these groups is the Santa Clarita Valley Bicycle Coalition, an advocacy group supporting Santa Clarita “to be a fun, safe, bikeable place to live.”
Nina Moskol is the chair of the Santa Clarita Valley chapter of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. She says that in the advocacy group, the members discuss plans for changes to bike paths.
“When I interact with the city, they often tell me what is coming within the schedule for both building additional infrastructure and bike events they will sponsor during the year,” she said.
The coalition will discuss the “needs and wants of the community” and work with the city and engineers to come up with practical plans for mapping out new cycling and walking trails.
The Santa Clarita Valley Bicycle Coalition also has an active Facebook group, where members can bring up problems they spot and work to improve them.
“They will say ‘we have a problem here’ or ‘fix this there’ and I will bring those issues back to the city,” Moskol says.
“We have been really, really happy with our partnership with the city of Santa Clarita,” she adds. “The city is proactive and responsive about making positive change, and it is really starting to happen faster.”
The group has been advocating for bicyclists to make their way across the SCV without having to cross major intersections, a goal the city has almost completely reached.
“When they opened the Fallen Warriors Memorial Bridge, they called it the Cross-Valley Connector,” Moskol explains.
“It was a roadway that went east to west across Santa Clarita from the 5 (freeway) to (Highway) 14.”
With that addition, it was almost possible for cyclists and pedestrians to get around “without having to go across the roadway.”
Even with this change, groups are pushing for more safety.
“There is one more trail we are campaigning for,” Moskol says. Advocates are working to make plans by the Five Knolls neighborhood to Discovery Park so that pedestrians won’t have to cross with “dangerous motor vehicles.”
The pedestrian paths added to the maps are determined by the city’s topography.
“Santa Clarita has an interesting topography,” Moskol says.
This means there has to be a “major act of landscaping” to create practical walking and cycling paths that can serve residents without interfering with roadways or other spaces.
To create the new paths, the city usually hears from advocates or makes plans on their own, then works with engineers to make changes possible.
Moskol says the advocacy group applied for a grant to make the most recent changes possible. After the city worked with engineers to see if the plans could be put into action, they found that it is possible to make a trail that keeps pedestrians from crossing roadways.
There are other groups that make new walking and biking paths possible in the Santa Clarita Valley.
“SCV Trail Users has been working with the city to design and build new nonmotorized, multi-use trails at the East Walker Ranch Open Space and Golden Valley Open Space,” says SCV Trail Users chair Ken Raleigh.
The group is currently planning a work day with Los Angeles County to “repair and reopen the Los Pinetos Trail, which was closed a few years ago because of damage from the Sand Fire and subsequent rains,” Raleigh says.
The group has made progress on other trails, as well.
“Well before that, we successfully advocated on behalf of the mountain biking community before the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation for mountain bikes to be allowed to use the Canyon Trail, which runs from the Placerita Nature Center to Walker Ranch and the bottom of the Los Pinetos trail.”
Although these groups in and around the SCV work together mainly to advocate for the changing and bettering of trails, they sometimes come together outside of their volunteer work.
“Most of us are connected on social media, so we will ride together,” Moskol says.
“We do rides and functions with the city. Last year, we hosted a county metro ride, ‘The Best Ride,’ at the beginning of April.”
She says that the group also held an education class during the same month that year.
Moskol explains how bicyclists use the trails for both transportation and leisure, but they were originally designed as recreational paths.
“As the city grew and the demand increased to use the roads, it has turned into a very big, great bike infrastructure amenity,” Moskol says. “We are so lucky to have what we have.”
Santa Clarita Valley Bicycle Coalition is the local chapter of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. For more information, visit www.la-bike.org/chapters. Santa Clarita Valley Trail Users is a committee of the nonprofit, the Concerned Off Road Bicyclists Association. For more information, visit Facebook.com and search for SCV Trail Users.