Issue 14Uncategorized

Stanislaus Gets Friendly with Bikes

Bike Lanes-6BY JACQUI D. SINARLE

WHAT’S TO LOVE ABOUT BICYCLING IN STANISLAUS COUNTY?

Thanks to an abundance of new bike lanes, signage and bicycle-friendly projects, there’s more to love than ever.

“I’ve lived in Modesto less than 18 months and already I’ve seen substantial improvements for bicycle riders like improved bike lanes and more bike parking downtown,” says Brian Greene, who cycles to work daily.

These improvements and more are part of a community-wide effort to make local bicycling easier, safer and more accessible, kicked off in 2012 when Mayor Garrad Marsh organized Modesto’s Bicycle Advisory Committee.

“One major change has been to have city staff include bicycle access, signage or lanes with all resurfacing work on collector and arterial street work,” says Marsh, noting that some of Modesto’s newest bike lanes are located on Briggsmore Avenue from McHenry Avenue to Sisk Road; on parts of Oakdale Road, Sylvan Avenue and Orangeburg Avenue; and in Village One.

Meanwhile progress continues on expanding the bike-friendly Virginia Corridor, and a new bike lane is in the works to connect MJC’s East and West Campuses.

“Already approved for resurfacing and planned for early 2015 are significant sections of Tully and College Avenues and completion of the connection between MJC’s East and West Campuses,” says Marsh. A new bike route map and educational materials promise to further improve the biking experience and safety in Modesto.

“Modesto has made a lot of progress to improve bicycling safety by adding bike lanes along major corridors, while Stanislaus County has added several ‘Share the Road’ signs on roads that connect the cities and are popular with local cyclists,” observes John Gerling, chair of the Bicycle Advisory Committee.

There’s also a new California law that requires motorists to allow at least three feet of clearance when passing bicyclists.

And even more bicycle-friendly measures are planned for the future.

“City staff and members of the community have been working together to design bike lanes in Modesto, including the new route between MJC campuses that will be in construction next year,” reports Susan Dion, Advisory Committee member and president of the Stanislaus County Bicycle Club (which funded Share the Road signs throughout the county). “In addition, the Bicycle Advisory Committee wants to lead bicycle safety fairs at area schools by fall 2015, and we are working to become certified by the League of American Bicyclists to teach bicycling classes.”

Modesto is a great city for bicycling with many advantages over other bike-friendly cities, Greene points out.

“For one thing, it’s flat,” he explains. “In addition, our weather is conducive to bicycling all year long.”

Modesto isn’t the only flat, local city putting an emphasis on cycling. Turlock is in the midst of drafting a new master plan to upgrade the city’s bike lanes and sidewalks.

That plan proposes developing a citywide system of bikeways, which could make bicycles as common as cars. Some City Councilmembers and citizens envision a Davis-like, bike-centric environment in the area of California State University, Stanislaus.

Greene predicts that as new improvements are made across the county, the network of bike paths and routes will become increasingly connected, encouraging more people to turn to bicycling for transportation.

“These cost-effective bicycling infrastructure improvements demonstrate how local leaders are committed to making bicycling safer and more accessible,” Greene says. “The best way to support this momentum is to choose to use your bike whenever possible. In addition, tell elected officials that you support bicycling because it contributes to a healthy, vibrant community.”

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