Back-Seat Driver

Sacramento to start kicking cyclists off some sidewalks. But which ones?

Sacramento city officials say they plan to launch an analysis this summer of which sidewalks in town bicyclists should be banned from using.

It will be a tricky exercise. The city wants to start excluding cyclists from busy sidewalks where bikers could hit and injure pedestrians. But they don’t want to force cyclists onto streets where traffic is heavy and tight, and where there are no bike lanes.

“We don’t want to encourage sidewalk riding, but we have limited funding” to build bike lanes on streets, the city’s Jennifer Donlon Wyant said.

That means the city is likely to initially ban cyclists from using only the most crowded sidewalks.

Where might they be? Some places are obvious. The sidewalks around Golden 1 Center are a pedestrian magnet. Nearby K Street is another place where cyclists shouldn’t be on sidewalks.

The effort is based on a city ordinance passed one year ago that seeks to reduce what many say are growing conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists. The issue drew attention when a midtown resident was seriously injured when struck from behind by a speeding biker.

Donlon Wyant said the city welcomes residents’ opinions, but points out that the city ordinance says any sidewalk chosen for a bike ban must be adjacent to a road with a “low-stress bikeway.” The ordinance, though, does not define what is meant by low stress.

Donlon Wyant, the city’s “active transportation specialist,” has been teaching a free class each month, open to anyone who lives in Sacramento, on how to bike legally and safely in an urban environment. The July and August classes are already filled.

Many of the attendees are older women who are nervous about riding in the street, Donlon Wyant said. Others are mothers who bring their children.

Cyclists are required to obey all laws of the road when they ride in streets. Many people in the classes, however, are surprised that that includes arm signals before each turn. She said few also know that bikes are supposed to have reflectors and lights.

Caltrans building third lane on I-80

Just above Colfax, Interstate 80 gets steep and quite twisty. It can get dicey, especially when some slow-moving big rigs pull into the passing lane to go around slower trucks that are struggling to get up the hill, and that bottles traffic.

Caltrans and a contractor, Teichert Construction, have been at work on a 3-mile-long truck passing lane there. They have been uprooting trees and cutting mountainsides back the last two years to make room for a third lane.

A part of that lane is now in place. The full $50 million project will not be finished until late next year, after a bridge widening in the middle of the project area.