More bicycle access coming to downtown

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Downtown Sacramento is going to get more bicycle-friendly over the next year and a half, as the City Council gave the nod for the Department of Transportation to begin planning more bicycle lanes for downtown streets Tuesday night.

“The intent of the project is to create bike lanes on some of the most traveled downtown streets,” said Ed Cox, the city’s pedestrian and bicycle coordinator.

The project will be completed in two phases. The first phase involves painting bicycle lanes on a number of streets that are already wide enough to handle the bikeways without losing any lanes or parking spaces, Cox said Wednesday.

“We’re looking at J Street, I Street, Ninth Street, Fifth Street, 10th Street and Capitol Mall,” Cox said. “We’re essentially repainting them to include bike lanes.”

The second phase will involve removing one lane of vehicle traffic from some one-way streets and painting bicycle lanes on both sides of them.

The streets being considered for phase two are Fifth, Ninth, 10th, G and H.

Cox said the bicycle upgrades are going to be very similar to the way Midtown is set up, and with the project being in its earliest phases, no comprehensive traffic flow studies have been completed.

“Based on preliminary assessments, it seems the streets we’ve chosen will not be badly impacted by taking away a lane,” Cox said.

The funds allocated to the project at the City Council meeting Tuesday night amount to $629,000 of Measure A transportation funds. None of the money will come from the general fund, which currently faces an estimated $35 million – $40 million shortfall.

According to the staff report, the addition of bicycle lanes downtown is in line with the city’s long-term goals as decided in 2002. 

The project’s timeline is not set, but Cox said he hopes the design will be done in time to piggyback the project on the city’s annual street maintenance so there is no extra construction for drivers to navigate.

That annual street maintenance – which typically consists of sealing or re-laying asphalt – typically takes place in the summer.

Cyclists questioned downtown by The Sacramento Press Wednesday afternoon were in favor of the project.

“I was just thinking about bike lanes,” said Charles Davis-Burkes, who was riding his bicycle on the sidewalk of Fifth Street between J and I streets. “I was wondering what would happen if I got in trouble riding my bike on the sidewalk here, but my knee hurts, and I don’t feel comfortable riding on the street with it like that.”

He added that he thinks designated bicycle lanes would be a safer option than riding among the cars.

Cyclist C. Bradfield said he would feel safer with designated lanes downtown.

“There’s always danger,” he said. “Most of the drivers are pretty polite, but some idiots will all but run you down.”

Bradfield said he is a “big bike advocate” and uses the lanes whenever they’re available.

The bicycle lanes will give added safety and promote using bicycles downtown, said Downtown Sacramento Partnership Marketing Director Lisa Martinez.

“I think in general the Downtown Partnership is very supportive of encouraging people in the central city to use multimodal transportation – on foot, in a car and on a bicycle or public transit,” she said.

She added that being able to share the right of way between cars and bicycles will be better for the city in general.

“This is a good step in getting Sacramento to be seen as bike-friendly and really being able to have that as an amenity,” she said.

Brandon Darnell is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. 

  • Ben Ilfeld

    Whew. Phase 1 can’t come soon enough.

    • Mariel Tagg


    • Denise Coleman


  • Now the businesses downtown need to get serious about providing bike parking, and should be required by the city to do so (including Old Sac)

  • Great news. The more bike lanes, the more bicyclists and less cars.

  • Then, after more bike parking ( did that “bike themed” restuarant ever provide parking?? ) is large well lighted signs at every entrance to the grid that say’s ” welcome to midtown, watch out for bikes” etc etc etc or something like that.

    A friendly reminder, to remind people that J street is not Watt Avenue, and not everyone in transport is in a car.

    • Joel Rosenberg

      “large well lighted signs at every entrance to the grid that say’s ‘welcome to midtown, watch out for bikes'”

      …running through a stop sign riding three abreast on the sidewalk the wrong way down a one way street that has two bikelanes.”

    • Still no bike parking at the bike theme burger joint, pretty pathetic. As are all of the new business that come in that the city doesn’t require to provide bike parking for (they are required to assess their impact on car parking and make allowances for it).

  • I wasn’t sure I’d live to see the day that Sacramento finally embraced its bike-friendliness! Bike lanes on J St?? Awesome.

  • Hopefully bikes will USE the new lanes instead of running pedestrians off the sidewalks even on streets WITH BIKE LANES!!!

    • Dale Kooyman

      I welcome bike lanes and think it is great we will be having more but your point is well taken. I have asked some bikers why they don’t use the bike lanes and they say that bike lanes are too dangerous. Like, who would a biker rather hit or experience a “near miss”–a vehicle or a pedestrian?

    • I wonder if there can ever be a bicycle conversation without this being brought up. This is being done for the cyclists who follow the rules of the road. It’s a great idea and one that should have been done a long time ago. You will never be able to do anything about bikes on the sidewalk any more than you can do something about unsafe drivers.

      And there is something to the idea that bike lanes don’t always feel safe. If you notice, these lanes are being added on to existing streets that weren’t exactly designed with bike lanes in mind. Yes, the painted lines will make some cars give you a little more room but bicycles aren’t getting any more actual space than already exists on these streets. It would be awesome if these streets were brought down to two lanes with REAL room for bikes (as was done on L St some years ago – a GREAT biking street BTW) but of course people would raise hell if that happened on J or 10th.

    • Brandon Darnell

      mtsacramento – Phase two of the process is anticipated to take several one-way, three-lane streets down to two lanes, with bicycle lanes on either side (both following the one-way traffic flow).

  • Paul Cox

    We have street maintenance? Who knew?!?

  • Alaa Shabouni

    I, for one, am excited about these impending developments. I recently moved from Santa Barbara, which is a very bike friendly town, and am glad that Sacramento is becoming more accommodating to the biking population!

  • These repainted lanes are jokes.. All they are lanes for residents to put out their garbage cans without losing any parking spaces and for FedEx and UPS to double park without getting a ticket.

  • Jason Voorhees

    This is great news. The more bike lanes, the better. I think making Midtown and Downtown Sacramento as bike friendly as the bike-friendliest cities in the country/world is not only good for the environment, but good for business. I didn’t catch when Phase 1 and Phase 2 will start. By summer, did they mean this summer?

    • Jason Voorhees

      Oh, I see. Timeline not set. I hope it gets underway ASAFP!

  • If only we could get the bicyclists OFF THE SIDEWALKS!!!


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