Sacramentans know that they are privy to generally good weather, moderately flat terrain and numerous local parks in which to ride bikes. But two Sacramento City Council members are behind a proposal to bring the cycling culture to parts of Sacramento that remain largely untouched by cyclists.
Joe Devlin, chief of staff for District 5 councilman Jay Schenirer, explained that while Sacramento has some avenues for cycling, there remain large areas that can and should be altered to accommodate cyclists. To bring this issue to light, Schenirer and fellow District 3 Councilman Steve Cohn are working on an event called a “ciclovia” which translates to “bike path.”
The proposed event, which is still in the planning stages, would entail blocking off areas of midtown Sacramento on streets that could include J Street, Freeport Boulevard, Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and Broadway Avenue. The idea would be to block off parts of these streets for a few hours on an agreed upon day in order to let bicyclists ride around in places where they normally couldn’t. Ideally the event would integrate with local businesses who would bring some of their merchandise out to the streets to stimulate the local economy as well.
“East Sacramento and Land Park are great places to ride bikes,” Devlin said. “It’s very flat and has good weather. “It’s just missing a culture of cycling.”
Joining in on the effort to make the event a reality is the Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates (SABA). Because the city likely doesn’t have much money to put forth for the event, members of SABA are being called upon to volunteer at the event. Devlin said that he would like to get as many volunteers as possible to work and direct traffic.
As far as where it would take place, that will not be known until the council members find out exactly what the costs will be to put on the ciclovia event.
“It would be fun to close off Freeport or J Street and have businesses get involved,” said Devlin. “These are unnatural places for lots of people to ride bikes normally.”
The hope is that the street party would highlight the need for established bike lanes to be built and maintained in the midtown area. Devlin talked about historical Broadway Avenue and the fact that riding down that street on a bike would be incredibly dangerous as it is now due to the fact that it is has no bike lane.
“We want to demonstrate the need to improve [cycling] pathways,” he said.
As with anything in a floundering economy, some people will be skeptical of anything that costs money to produce. However, Devlin outlined some of the things that will hopefully make the costs low and the benefits high. The event would likely be on a weekend when fewer people are on the road during the day and he said that there would not be large sections of major roads shut down.
“It’s a social event,” he said. “We want people to interact with (hopefully) thousands of other cyclists. It has a potential to create a long-term economic boost to businesses. It is a slight inconvenience with the possibility for big benefits.
The cycling season, which for Sacramento is a lot longer than other places around the country, is a big thing locally. Devlin hopes that putting together a place for cyclists to interact would have a positive impact on both cycling, as well as introducing cyclists to restaurants and other businesses that they simply did not have access to without a car.
For more information or to volunteer for the proposed ciclovia event, you can contact Cohn’s office at (916) 808-7003 or Schenirer’s office at (916) 808-7005. For more information on SABA, visit www.sacbike.org.