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Cathedral Canyon Drive Bicycle Crossing

September 26th, 2014
New Cathedral Canyon Drive Bicycle Crossing

 

My ten-year backpacking/peakbagging career ended in 1997 after experiencing a back injury. That’s when I took up bicycling.

It was a year before my 60th birthday and the activity has remained one of my favorite exercise passions. Though not possessed of the cycling legs and strength of those on street racing bikes, I manage to put in 22 miles, or so, every morning on the bike paths between Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage. The routes along Whitewater River wash are among my favorites.

Cathedral Canyon Drive, immediately south of the Whitewater River wash, is the dividing line between Cathedral City and Palm Springs. It’s there, in front of the Cathedral Canyon Country Club Westgate, that two bicycle trails start/end on either side of the street. The Whitewater River bicycle path is in Cathedral City and the Jenkins Trail is in Palm Springs. The two routes are not linked and there has been no marked or otherwise recognized crossing in that location. The street is one heavily used by automotive vehicles and bicycle crossing is often dangerous for motorists travel quite fast in that area.

Since 2008, and perhaps earlier, many bicyclists have dreamed of a safe crossing where the two trails meet at Cathedral Canyon Drive. In May 2012 I began lobbying city officials of both Cathedral City and Palm Springs in an effort to have the unmarked crossing recognized with a cross walk and vehicle caution signage.

Those efforts eventually proved successful in November 2012 when the support of Cathedral City council member Greg Pettis and Palm Springs city manager David Ready changed the picture. They inspected the unmarked crossing area, saw the dangerous conditions that existed and agreed, without hesitation, to support installation of a signed, safe, street crossing at that location.

Officials of the two cities agreed to jointly fund and work together to create the new crossing. They decided Palm Springs would take the lead and handle the project. A set of plans for the crossing was completed in November 2013. Cathedral City funded their $15,000 share of the cost in the 2013-2014 budget.

Palm Springs received $15,000 in Measure J funds to pay their share. The contractor began work on the project the first week of September 2014. The effort consisted of installing a wide, white, thermoplastic cross walk with transverse striping and two flashing yellow beacons on poles (one for each direction) together with appropriate motor vehicle cautionary signing at and in advance of the cross walk.

Tuesday morning (autumn equinox day), at 8:50 a.m., I arrived at the crossing location on my bike just as two electricians were finishing their work installing the button-operated flashing signal lights. They asked me to be the first to try them out, which I happily did. I crossed safely and traffic halted while I was performing the test ride. Bicyclists and pedestrians finally have a safer, signed cross walk on Cathedral Canyon Drive connecting the Jenkins and Whitewater River bicycle paths.

New Cathedral Canyon Drive signed bicycle crossing linking the Palm Springs Jenkins Trail with the Cathedral City Whitewater River bicycle path.

Cathedral Canyon Drive signed bicycle crossing linking the Palm Springs Jenkins Trail with the Cathedral City Whitewater River bicycle path. (click photo for larger view)

Thanks again to both Greg Pettis and David Ready – two truly outstanding public servants and bicycling supporters.

Bond Shands
Palm Springs

A nearly identical copy was published as a Valley Voice editorial submission titled “Cities create a safe bicycle crossing” in The Desert Sun newspaper on Saturday, September 27, 2014.

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