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Fresno's bike lane battle continues

Friday, May 24, 2013

The fight over a bike lane in Northwest Fresno is not over. On Thursday the Fresno city council voted not to allow bike lanes to be built on Fruit Avenue. The project was part of a regional transportation plan already approved by the city and the county.

Public support for the bike lanes on fruit was overwhelming, but one voice prevailed. City Council Member Steve Brandau argued there was not enough bicycle traffic to justify a bike lane on Fruit Avenue between Shaw and Herndon.

"It's just overwhelming, the number of vehicular traffic on Fruit, compared to bicycles."

Brandau cited his own informal traffic study as evidence.

"I went out and parked under a shade tree, it was on a Saturday, a beautiful day and I counted in one hour 374 cars and zero bikes."

But bicycle supporters pointed out that without a bike lane, the street wouldn't attract many cyclists. The council voted four to three to follow Brandau and kill the bike lanes. But Fresno County Supervisor Andreas Borgeas is challenging Brandau's methods and conclusions.

"I'm not certain exactly what the council member did but normally on these matters I defer to the experts, the traffic experts and based on what I was told traffic congestion would not occur, the narrowing of Fruit would not cause an undue burden on traffic in the area."

Borgeas held the council seat now held by Brandau when the bicycle master plan was drawn up. The goal of the plan is to eventually allow bicyclists to cross the city safely.

Byron Watkins heads the group I Bike Fresno: "If we were to follow the bicycle master plan all of these roads would start to connect so that if somebody wanted to get from point a to point b across town multiple miles they'd be able to stay on a bike lane the whole way and right now it's just not possible. By delaying fruit now we've lost an important part of north south connectivity on that side of town."

Borgeas says bikes need to be accommodated as part of Fresno's future.

"I think of lot of people want to see Fresno more bike friendly, including myself. And I think it's important we do our best to incorporate bike traffic into our normal traffic grid as much as possible. It encourages folks to take up biking. It's good for the health, it's good for the environment, it allows for diversity in transportation."

Borgeas is hoping to get the city council to reconsider its decision. Fresno County spent more than one hundred thousand dollars on planning and designing the bike lanes, as part of the bicycle master plan the city had already approved.

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fresno county, fresno, local, gene haagenson
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