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  • Manny Crisostomo / Sacramento Bee

    Kate Burns takes her three sons for a bike ride from Femont Park to Old Sacramento last spring. From the handle bars back, Malcom, 2, Kate, Gavin, 3 and Sean 6. May is national bike month.

  • Tony Bizjak

Back-seat Driver: May is a big month for Sacramento bicyclists

Published: Thursday, May. 2, 2013 - 5:39 pm
Last Modified: Sunday, May. 5, 2013 - 2:39 pm

There will be more bicyclists on the streets of the Sacramento region this month than ever before.

May is national bike month, and in Sacramento, which hosts a long list of bike-month events, officials say they are seeing more cyclists every year.

"Cycling has more momentum now than anytime since the biking movement of the 1970s," said Chris Morfas of the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, one of a number of local governments and agencies that advocate for more biking.

Some reasons are obvious. Local weather is good, the economy not so good. Gas prices are above the supposed "tipping point" price that cause people to rethink their driving habits.

Some reasons are subtle. Regional Transit buses and Capitol Corridor trains have made adjustments to accommodate more riders whose commute also includes a biking stage.

And some of the increased biking stems from a profound rethinking in recent years of our streets as shared ground for cars, bikes, pedestrians and transit. Sacramento even recently squeezed car lanes on busy J Street and other downtown commute corridors to make room for bike lanes.

Now, when new roads are built, bike lanes often are automatically part of the project. Sacramento, for instance, is including bike lanes on the new Cosumnes River Boulevard extension between Franklin and Freeport boulevards. That project, which broke ground Thursday, includes an interchange at I-5.

Planning also is underway for what some say could be a major advance for urban cycling here - a "bike share" program being readied for launch next year in downtown Sacramento, West Sacramento and Davis.

The program offers fleets of bikes for residents to rent for short trips. The bike rental racks often are located at train and other transit stations. San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York are launching bike share programs this year.

Morfas said the program allows more people to commute on bus or rail, then finish their commute on bike. It also helps younger people who live in the Central City to avoid the expense of owning a car.

"I think bike share is going to be the biggest thing in Sacramento since the American River bike trail opened," Morfas said.

But the "share the road" concept has problems. With more bicyclists, you have more pedalers going the wrong way or disobeying stop signs.

Also as more cyclists hit the road, it becomes more apparent that some places are just plain dangerous. Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates is working with governments on safer streets and intersections. It's necessary groundwork, they say, to make streets equal-opportunity avenues.

For bike month information, visit www.mayisbikemonth.com

Call The Bee's Tony Bizjak, (916) 321-1059. Follow him on Twitter @tonybizjak.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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