Big Bear Lake, CA — “The call was almost a year ago,” Event Resources Director Rick Bates told the City Council of Big Bear Lake, “when we came to you with a proposal to bring the Amgen Tour of California to Big Bear.” Fast forward to the present, and the cycling race—the largest in North America and said to be on par with the Tour de France—is cycling into Big Bear in just 24 days, from Palmdale to Snow Summit in Big Bear Lake on Friday, May 21st. “The world is watching,” Bates said at last night’s Council meeting, “and this gives Big Bear Lake a chance to be on the world stage for the first time.” As noted by Ken Dally, co-chair for the Big Bear Climb portion of the Amgen Tour, “We’re excited, we’re nervous. We’ve never done this before, but we’re prepared. It’s going to be a great thing for Big Bear.” In anticipation of the race, and the large crowds it will likely bring, the City Council is making final preparations in anticipation of the May 21 event. As proposed in a staff report at the April 26 meeting, Big Bear Lake streets on the course—including Big Bear Boulevard, from Stanfield to Sandalwood—will be reduced to two lanes for vehicle traffic, while there will be some full closures when the professional riders, including Lance Armstrong, roll through; if cyclists are on a 26mph pace from Palmdale, it is anticipated that they will reach Fawnskin at 2:33pm and Snow Summit by 2:54pm, while a “slower” pace, at 22mph, on the 135-mile stage 6 route, would result in finish line arrivals at 3:27pm. Despite some polite protest from Village merchants, City Council also moved to close the Village L to vehicle traffic, from Village Drive at Bartlett to Pine Knot Avenue at Stone, from 4 to 10pm on the 21st; the Village Business Association had asked for this street closure and with city staff anticipating crowds much like those on Halloween or for Santa’s arrival at the tree lighting, it was determined that separating vehicles from pedestrians was the most prudent move. According to Director of Planning Jim Miller, who is coordinating efforts with law enforcement and Public Works, “We’ve told everybody: anticipate staffing as if it is a Saturday night Fourth of July.” The City Council did opt not to waive the fees for the Big Bear Lake Fire Protection District, which will be providing extra staffing, given budget shortfalls for the department, so of the $40,000 the City has committed for the race, $3,819 will be directed to the fire department for their services on Friday, May 21.
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