The city of Sacramento is laying plans this week for its first “cycle track,” a two-way bike boulevard that will take the place of a car lane on a mile-plus stretch of 12th Street between Richards Boulevard and H Street.
The City Council, on its consent agenda Tuesday night, authorized the North 12th Complete Street Project, a proposed remake of the busy entry route into downtown. The cycle track would share the street with cars and light-rail trains, but would be separated from cars by a 5-foot-wide buffer zone, making it easier and safer for cyclists to access downtown from the north, traffic officials said.
City planners are also studying the possibility of creating designated cycling routes into the central city from the west, east and south as part of a focus on potential biking, pedestrian and transit improvements around downtown.
The 12th Street corridor was chosen for the first bike-only facility because it connects to the Two Rivers bike trail along the American River and likely will link with a planned bridge that would span the river into south Natomas, traffic planners said. That bridge would also accommodate light-rail trains, buses, pedestrians and local car traffic.
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Jim Brown, head of the Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates, lauded the cycle track concept, saying it would be Sacramento’s first “protected” bike lane, something bike advocates say is an important element in increasing cycling in urban areas. Cycle tracks are not appropriate on all streets, Brown said.
“Cycle tracks provide protection on fast, high-volume streets, kind of a specialty facility on streets that are otherwise too intense to ride on,” he said. “North 12th is a horrendous street to ride on. Traffic is going 50 miles per hour down there.”
City transportation planners said the cycle track project may help slow traffic on 12th Street. Construction could begin in 2019. Planning and design costs are expected to be about $900,000. The construction budget has not yet been determined.