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By Tammye McDuff
As a means of reducing increased traffic congestion and lower emissions Downey has joined forces with a number of Gateway Cities to enhance feasibility of active transportation modes, such as cycling. These alternate means of transportation reduce vehicle emissions such as greenhouse gas emissions, reduce transportation system impacts and improve the health and wellness of the community and local economic development.
In order to establish a framework for cycling as a traveling alternative, maximize the bicycle network within the City and provide a blueprint for future development of bicycle lanes, Downey is actively engaged in finalizing a Bicycle Master Plan.
The City applied for and received a Community Based Transportation Planning Grant in March 2013. The California Department of Transportation allotted $225,000 to the City. In May 2014 the Council awarded a Professional Services Agreement to Fehr & Peers for the preparation of the Bicycle Master Plan. Extensive data was collected via community workshops, social media and surveys to correctly assess the needs of the cycling community. Three phases were identified as a result. Class II and III bike routes, bike parking facilities and wayfinding signs are the first short range project taking four to five years. The mid long-range projects would enhance the Class III bike facilities taking with a time period of up to ten years and the long range phase would be to implement bike bridges, taking up to 15 years in construction.
Upon the adoption of the Bicycle Master Plan, the implementation phase will occur gradually over the next few decades depending on available funding. The City recently obtained grant funding through the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority [METRO] of $2.3 million. This funding will allow the implementation of several Class II and Class III bike routes, bicycle parking, end-of-trip facilities and wayfinding signage. The award of the grant will be subject to approval by the Metro Board in September 2015.
Miguel Nunez, Consultant Team Project Manager for Fehr & Peers, addressed Council stating,” we have had many events to raise awareness, beginning with the city’s first ever Tour de Downey. The event was grant funded by CalTrans focusing on public engagement which took 14 months to put into place as well as an aggressive public outreach and awareness campaign”. Nunez brought up the question of even having a bicycle master plan, “There are several reasons to do have a plan, some by choice and some less by choice. The first includes the local and regional environmental plans that address ecological issues and concerns.”
Downey is a bike friendly city and has done much to encourage residents to get out and cycle with the family. Lars Cunningham of the Downey Bicycle Coalition and who strongly supports the Bicycle Master Plan stated “I am very gratified by the questions and concerns brought up by Council. The culture drastically needs to change regarding bicycle laws. Bicycling is good for business – it is proven cyclers purchase more, it is good for the environment in multiple ways, and is important to public health.”
Mayor Luis Marquez commented “The Bicycle Master Plan has been one of Councils’ top priorities and now it’s time to implement it.” Council adopted to move forward with the Bicycle Master Plan.
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