Students from Cal Poly’s Sustainable Mobility civil engineering class presented proposals for a new bike path from Cal Poly through Cuesta College and Chorro Valley to Morro Bay.
The public graded each of the four groups’ proposals at an exhibition at the San Luis Obispo County Library on Friday.
Civil engineering professor Eugene Jud put the project in motion last year. He said his class is very enthusiastic about creating new ways of alternative transportation in San Luis Obispo.
“We really want to emphasize the importance of using transportation other than cars, and this is a way for the students to get real experience in civil engineering projects,” Jud said.
Each group presented plans on how to create a bike path that would be easy to ride as well as respectful of the land boundaries of Camp San Luis and the California Men’s Colony.
The goals of the proposals were to increase options for alternative transportation in Chorro Valley, create a path that would be conducive for commuting and recreational purposes and follow Governor Schwarzenegger’s mandate for reducing California’s greenhouse emissions to the 1990 level by 2020.
Each team’s proposal followed the same basic route, beginning at Cal Poly’s Alex G. Spanos Stadium to the Cuesta College campus and ending at South Bay Boulevard in Morro Bay. The groups differed on the details — some placed their path close to Highway 1 and others placed it farther away, and one group even proposed a “bike station” with showers, a cafe and a repair shop for bikers.
“Chorro Valley has several sites that we have used to base our routes on, and we all tried to come up with a plan that would really encourage more people to ride,” class president and civil engineering senior Naoki MacInnes said.
At Friday’s exhibition, the public heard each group’s proposal and graded them on their ideas for the alignment of the path, their Powerpoint presentation and how clearly they presented their proposal. David Flynn, a representative from the San Luis Obispo County Public Works, said he was impressed with all four proposals.
“I thought that the groups did a great job working around the land constraints and coming up with alternatives for commuting and recreation,” Flynn said. “An idea like this is definitely on the city council’s radar.”
Creating an extensive bike path like this presents several issues that must be dealt with before any construction can begin. The path would run through land owned by the Cal Poly Agriculture Department, Camp San Luis and the California Men’s Colony. These owners have expressed their support of the idea of a bike path, but they are also adamant about not losing any of their land in the construction.
In addition to negotiations with landowners, Jud said the biggest obstacle to the construction of the bike path is money. According to the San Luis Obispo City Council, there is not enough money in the city’s budget to build the path for several more years.
“We’ve gotten great support from the SLO city supervisors, but money is the main issue,” Jud said. “Many people think that we can begin construction tomorrow, but all we can really do is keep planning until the funding is available.”
Despite these setbacks, Jud said he has received enthusiastic support from the San Luis Obispo community for a bike path from Cal Poly to Morro Bay. Several local cycling organizations also support the idea.
Robert Davis, chair of the San Luis Obispo County Bike Advisory Committee and a member of the Morro Bay Citizens Bike Committee and the San Luis Obipso Bike Coalition, attended the exhibition and said the bike path would make the area more livable.
“I was impressed by how the students dealt with the limiting factors while still accomplishing their mission,” Davis said. “Organizations like the SLO Bike Coalition are always committed to providing these kind of bike facilities that connect parts of the county.”
The City and Regional Planning Department is surveying the rest of the community to ask for feedback and suggestions about improving cycling facilities. The department created an anonymous online survey that takes about 15 minutes to complete. Jud said student opinions are extremely valuable in determining what kind of changes should be made to local cycling facilities.
The survey is available online at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HFFBKMY