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Rolling along! $500,000 state grant advances bike lane project in the Conejo Valley

One of the new Agoura Hills bike lanes is on Agoura Road, in Agoura Hills.
Lance Orozco
One of the new Agoura Hills bike lanes is on Agoura Road, in Agoura Hills.

More than 11 miles of lanes planned for Agoura Hills, with some already in place. The hope is to make lanes part of a regional bike lane network.

It’s a busy road in the Conejo Valley. We’re on Agoura Road, just east of Kanan Road in Agoura Hills. It’s home to a new bike lane, one that’s part of a network under construction. Cyclists love it.

"I love to cycle, and I love to cycle in the City of Agoura Hills. You get a little bit of hills, you get a little bit of straight, a lot of downhill here and there, so it's a great place to do it," said Illece Buckley Weber.

But, she's more of an avid bicyclist. She’s also the Mayor of Agoura Hills. She says this is one of the most popular biking areas in the region.

"On Saturdays and Sundays, Agoura Road is just a major cycling avenue. It goes all the way across the city, into the Santa Monica Mountains, it goes into Calabasas, it goes into Thousand Oaks. so it really connects all of our communities," said Weber.

She pointed to the bike lane on Agoura Road, which is clearly marked with new green logos on the pavement.

"As you can see, we've already started the project. It's safer, and it makes the cyclists feel more comfortable," said Weber.

It’s is part of a planned 11 mile, approximately $32 million Agoura Hills Bike Path system. But, the concept is something bigger. The goal is to eventually have an interconnecting bike path system linking communities like Westlake Village, Oak Park, Agoura Hills, and Calabasas.

But Wednesday, the city celebrated a $500,000 state grant which will fund another 2.4 miles of the Agoura Hills system.

City Manager Nathan Hamburger said the Agoura Road lane is part of the bigger project. "This is one key piece to connect the community, and the region for cyclists. We do have a large cycling community...even professionals who come here for training."

The bike paths are about much more than recreation. It’s hoped they can actually make it easier for people to commute to work, or run errands in the Conejo Valley.

"There is all through California a big effort to get people out of their cars. to figure out how they can get people to do short commutes without getting into their car. This is certainly a great example," said Democratic Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin of Thousand Oaks. She helped secure a $500,000 grant from the state for the project. Irwin said the lane can be a powerful safety tool, and not just for cyclists.

She noted that when you narrow lanes, and add bike paths, drivers instinctively drive slower, which improves safety and reduces the number of accidents.

There are different types of bike lanes being added. Some have markings on the roadway pavement which denote bike lanes. But others being built in Agoura Hills will be completely dedicated pathways separated from traffic.

Those working on the project say they are already seeing improvements in safety.

"We've put new bike striping, like the green you see at intersections all over the city (of Agoura Hills) in our areas where we've had bike-vehicle accidents in the past," said Jess Forte, who is the Director of Public Works, and the City Engineer for Agoura Hills.

"Since we've implemented them, we haven't seen bike-vehicle accidents."

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.