“Making Our City More Cycling-Friendly…”
Hearts of Costa Mesa is part of our ongoing, curated journey through the rich diversity of Costa Mesa life. We’ll be sharing vignettes and stories through the firsthand reflections of Costa Mesa’s residents and regulars. Today, we’re featuring longtime resident – and Chairman of the Costa Mesa Bikeway & Walkability Committee – Jim Erickson. Enjoy!
Photo: Jim Hicks
“I grew up in Costa Mesa, been here 33 years.
“We lived on the Westside until I was three years old, then my family moved over to the Eastside near 17th Street and Irvine. It was an awesome place to grow up. I was within biking distance of all my schools: Mariners, Ensign and Harbor.
“I think that’s when I first discovered my love of biking and the sense of freedom a kid can get from biking around town. Whether I was heading to school, a friend’s house or just around the corner to get a slurpee – I just loved the freedom of it. I’m thankful my parents raised us here in Costa Mesa.
“I’m a dad, now, and we’re raising our own kids here, on the Westside. Costa Mesa has grown up a lot since I was a kid. When I was little, some of the parks we have now were only just being built. I remember when Canyon Park was quite literally a dump – people would drive up and dump stuff there. Now it’s a great place for kids and families and people to enjoy biking or walking or other kinds of recreation.
“I’m on an email list to receive notifications from City Hall. One day, I see that they are forming a new committee to focus on bikeability and walkability. I knew it was a good idea and something I was personally very passionate about. All the adjoining cities to ours had a cycling element to their General Plans, but we did not. So I decided to get involved, and have been part of the Bikeway & Walkability Committee since its inception.
“The committee is tasked with making our city more cycling-friendly and walkable. In most cities, this is done by hiring consultants to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Here, in Costa Mesa, it’s a volunteer committee comprised of people that live here and care about the space. Our members all share a passion for alternative transportation.
“Cycling is just a wonderful way to get around. It’s good exercise and there’s no environmental impact. Plus, cycling and walking help people get to know their city and their neighbors way better than being locked inside a car. When you slow down, by bike or foot, it’s also a great way to meet fellow Costa Mesans.
“Cycling is also great for kids because, from an early age, they learn how to maintain a piece of machinery. Pump up a tire, grease a chain. Kids learn about the rules of the road and what it takes to be responsible out in public. The flip side to the responsibility is they get the freedom to go where they want.
“We have big plans for the future, bike races, for example. We are working to get more bike racks around the city and designating areas of town as ‘walking districts’ so people can enjoy those areas on foot.
“I personally love that Costa Mesa is a real, organic community. We’re not master-planned. I think that’s led to a fantastic mix of community and commerce growing up in a very real way. But as that happens, we need to be mindful of creating and maintaining a viable infrastructure for getting around. Put in bike paths, they will get used, and the health of all Costa Mesa citizens will be lifted up.
Photo: Brandy Young
“If people want to get involved in what we’re doing, I invite them to come to our meetings. Express your concerns about the area where you live. How can it be more bike-friendly or walkable? How can we make that experience safer for kids riding around the neighborhood? We really are seeking input. We value the opinions of our residents.
“How else can people get involved? Teach your kids to ride a bike. Spend time riding with them. Let them ride to school. Even if that’s all you’re ever able to do, the future of our city will be the better for it.” ♥
– Jim Erickson, Longtime Resident, Chairman of Costa Mesa Bikeway & Walkability Committee