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Will Downtown to River Parkway ‘Protected’ Bike Lane Become Reality?

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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.

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