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A bike lane offering riders added protection from motorists stretching nearly 13 miles from downtown Fresno to the San Joaquin River Parkway is coming into focus.

But whether it becomes a reality depends on funding, getting county sign-off on a stretch of Palm Avenue between Shields and Shaw avenues, and the wishes of residents along the proposed route.

City council members Miguel Arias and Esmeralda Soria, who are leading the effort, are hosting a virtual community meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the protected bikeway.

Residents may join via Zoom using the following link: https://zoom.us/j/99170680769

Watch: What Are Protected Bike Lanes?

As envisioned, the project would reduce automotive traffic from four lanes to two lanes, with a center turn lane. And the bikeway would have flexible posts every 8 feet separating riders from traffic.

“We are looking to get a pulse of the neighbors — would they support it?” Arias said. “We need to find out the best route for a protected lane and if riders want it. I can see a lot of families riding in the corridor.”

Arias said that while city staff has evaluated Palm for the bikeway, he has heard from riders who have suggested Van Ness, as well.

“Cities across the state offer cyclists protected bikeways that add an extra layer of protection for riders and drivers,” Soria said in a news release. “As the fifth-largest city in the state of California, Fresno should already be at the forefront in providing a safe experience for our cyclists. This project will connect the north and south parts of our city and will open the doors to more protected bikeways in other areas.”

Two-Mile Stretch of Palm Is in County

However, both Palm and Van Ness run through a county island, which complicates the challenge of completing the bikeway.

Steve Brandau, who represents the area on the Fresno County Board of Supervisors, said that he’s willing to consider Palm for the bikeway.

“Connectivity downtown to the river — that’s valuable to me,” Brandau said. “And our staff is supportive of the left-hand turn lanes.”

However, county public works officials said that parts of the two-mile Palm segment between Shields and Shaw are too narrow to accommodate a protected lane.

As a result, the bikeway would switch several times between a painted stripe and a lane protected by plastic poles.

Brandau Wants to Hear From Residents

“Because it bounces back and forth, I thought it would be better to make it (a regular) bike lane through the county,” Brandau said. “And then the city could go back to a (protected) bike lane at Shaw.”

While the city met a deadline to apply for a grant to pay for the improvement, the county didn’t learn about the project in time to apply, Brandau said.

But, he said, the county can look at its options in November when another round of grants opens up.

“I am open to this,” Brandau said, “but I also want to hear from my constituents, and find out how they feel about it.”

How to Participate

Email District3@fresno.gov for the link to Wednesday’s virtual meeting.

Residents can also watch via Facebook Live on the @AriasforCouncil page or the @EsmeraldaForCityCouncil page.

In addition, you can fill out a bike lane survey at this link.

2 Responses

  1. Bill Thacker

    Nope another bad idea, go for the orginal plan of a light rail like San Jose, Sacramento and Los Angeles . Hwy 41 was built with a large medium to specifically have a light rail system to bring people from North end of Fresno / Valley Children’s Hospital to Downtown Fresno.
    The bike lanes should be kept short and extended to the country.
    Dividers or not we are going to have lots of accidents , every year in Fresno County we have at least 2-4 people killed on bicycles and about 2-4 more joggers. Then there is the people that will not wear helmets and sustain injury. There will just not be enough people interested. Except for short distances say Tower to Downtown. Feeding bike paths into River Parkway isn’t something that would interest serious bike riders they usually ride the country and foothill routes.
    With VMT looming from Newsom taxing (Vehicle Miles Traveled) we have to have a better rail system and encourage more use of Fresno Transit. Sounds like the Arias / Soria have money burning in their pockets and trying to figure out a way to spend it.
    How about bike path to the 3 country taxpayer provided Methadone Clinics instead of taxpayers having to pay for the ride on Uber for Meth addicts for their treatment.
    Get real you can tell these 2 are not from Fresno, they are trying to mold and shape Fresno into a big cosmopolitan town like San Francisco which is only 8 miles by 8 miles.
    Try working on Economic Development and bringing jobs and industry to Fresno for all those people you say are “Economically disadvantages”

    Reply
  2. Bernard Rieux

    I think this is a great idea. All of the quality bike infrastructure in Fresno (like fully separated bike trails and green painted bike lanes) are currently located only in the Northernmost tip of the city, where people are more likely to bike for leisure rather than necessity. Unfortunately, getting this built is going to be an uphill battle against North Fresno’s resistance towards money being spent in South Fresno as well as its general car-focused sprawl culture where people drive pickup trucks half a mile to eat fast food. Fresno can often feel like a city of 500,000 trying desperately to be a city of 50,000, and it has the high bicyclist and pedestrian death rates to show for it.

    One benefit of protected bike lanes is that they allow for less reliance on police for enforcement, because this is one of the many things that cops are incompetent at. As someone living car-free in Central Fresno, I can attest that the FPD’s current approach to enforcing bike lane laws is that they simply do not enforce bike lane laws. A bicyclist is more likely to be given a bad ticket for riding on the sidewalk (which isn’t actually illegal in Fresno outside of a section of Downtown) than a driver is for blocking a bike lane. A properly protected bike lane makes it impossible for drivers to park in it and eliminates the need for enforcement. That’s one of the reasons I’d prefer a grade separated lane over flexible bollards, but I’d be happy with whatever we can get.

    Also, I think it’s a mistake to judge the demand for improvements to bike infrastructure based only on a city’s current biking rates. Brandau’s infamous bike counting experiment gets it exactly backwards. The way great biking cities became that way isn’t that they just spontaneously had a surge of bicyclists in spite of a lack of bike infrastructure, and then built a bunch of protected bike lanes in response. The way they became great biking cities is by first building the bike infrastructure that makes people want to use it. Multiple cities in Arizona like Mesa and Tempe have demonstrated this, and they’re also some of the few places that get even hotter than Fresno. Most of Fresno’s bike lanes are rated high-stress based on the speed of traffic and lack of protection, which is why more people don’t use them. Make bike lanes comfortable for people aged 8-80 and they will ride.

    Reply

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