Meeting seeks public's input on Merced's bicycle issues

jsmith@mercedsunstar.comMarch 6, 2013 

— The city is holding a public workshop Monday to get feedback on its draft Bicycle Transportation Plan, which is expected to be completed this fall.

The event is the second of two public meetings in recent months designed to encourage public participation in the plan, which is updated every five years.

The document gives the city direction when planning bike-related projects, as well as the ability to compete for state funding, said Bill King, principal planner for the city of Merced.

"The information in the plan is used to identify projects that the community needs," he said. "That way we can be competitive and get Caltrans funds to actually construct those projects."

The city expects the plan to be submitted for public comment by June. The council likely will consider adopting the document no later than this fall.

At the public workshop, city staff hopes to explore a number of specific issues, including improving bicycling routes to high schools for students who have been affected by last year's busing cuts, King said.

"We're looking to identify existing routes and what the trouble spots are for students that choose to ride their bikes," he said. "Hopefully, some of the students and parents or administrators from those schools will come down and join in.

"We're really interested in identifying more north-south connectivity in the community," he added. "What's the best way of getting people to downtown and back to their home?"

The workshop will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Sam Pipes room of the Civic Center at 678 W. 18th St.

Accompanying the discussion will be a training session on bicycle safety, according to city officials.

The safety instruction is for bicyclists and drivers, said Lisa Kayser-Grant, who sits on the city's Bicycle Advisory Commission, which was created in 2009 to advise the planning department in designing a more bike-friendly city.

"Those groups often don't know how to share the road," she said. "I would love the community to come to this meeting and figure out ways we can educate motorist and bicyclist."

The city has worked on the plan update with support from the Merced County Association of Governments.

Other major players in the process so far include the Golden Valley Health Center, Merced Bicycle Coalition, UC Merced Bicycling Club and the county health department.

"I'm really pleased with the effort the city's making to reach out to the whole community to get their input on all aspects of the plan, from bike lanes, to bike parking, to bike safety," said Kayser-Grant.

Councilwoman Mary-Michal Rawling said she was also pleased with the city's progress on the plan.

"I think that there's definitely a desire from our planning and engineering department to incorporate bicyclists into the transportation plan," she said. "There seems to be a real joint effort to get a comprehensive plan put together that reflects the needs and wants of the community."

Reporter Joshua Emerson Smith can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or jsmith@mercedsunstar.com.

Merced Sun-Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service