Let’s get the training wheels off Sacramento’s bike plan, finally

A bicyclist rides in a bike lane in Washington, D.C. There’s discussion of building such “cycle tracks” in Sacramento.
A bicyclist rides in a bike lane in Washington, D.C. There’s discussion of building such “cycle tracks” in Sacramento. The Washington Post

With bike lanes that suddenly stop and start again, entire neighborhoods that have no lanes, and appalling rates of bicycle theft and collisions among two-wheeled commuters, Sacramento has never lived up to its potential as a great city for cycling.

We’re sorry to report that probably won’t change in the short term. But a long-awaited update of the Bicycle Master Plan, which the City Council will consider approving Tuesday evening, certainly could make things better in the long term.

The plan, last overhauled in 2010, is designed to guide the development of a coherent, citywide bicycle network, complete with a plethora of bike parking and educational programs.

For sure, it’s not perfect. There’s no money attached to the plan, for example, although it does make it easier for the city to land transportation grants. There’s also no timetable. It’s telling that the plan is 71 pages long, but the section titled “Implementation” is only two pages, with a couple of very large photos. Expect more of the same paralysis by analysis.

But having an updated Bicycle Master Plan is a step in the right direction for Sacramento. It gives the public something to which to hold city officials accountable if they continue to drag their feet.

The plan, for example, calls for adding dozens of miles of off-street and on-street bike lanes, and doing more projects like the “cycle track,” or two-way bike boulevard, that’s going in along 12th Street.

Many of these new bike lanes will likely go in Del Paso Heights, Oak Park, Meadowview and Fruitridge. “Equity” is the buzzword of this plan and the goal is to get more people from struggling neighborhoods to ride – and to do it safely, given the number of collisions.

That, of course, won’t do much good for those who live or work in midtown, where bike lanes all halt, without warning, at 15th Street – just out of reach of the nearly completed Golden 1 Center and the bars and restaurants that will soon surround it.

It’s a problem that should have been addressed months ago. But don’t expect anything to happen soon.

The “Grid 3.0” subsection of the Bicycle Master Plan talks about “optimizing” the central city with new bike lanes, reducing the number of lanes on some streets and converting one-way streets to two-way.

Too bad the implementation will take place over the next 20 years. It’s yet another reminder that planning is not the same as doing.