Bicycle master plan set for City Council approval

DOWNEY – A bicycle master plan for the city of Downey is expected to be approved by City Council at its second January meeting on Tuesday the 27th. This plan completes a process that began 10 years ago, almost to the day, with the city’s “Vision 2025” General Plan, adopted on Jan. 25, 2005.

A city general plan is mandated by California State Code 65302, which requires what’s described as “a circulation element” relating to “major thoroughfares” and “transportation routes,” as well as other transit components.

One of the goals of the 2005 City of Downey General Plan was to “promote the use of alternative modes of travel, other than single-occupant vehicles, to relieve traffic congestion.” Specifically, the General Plan proposed to “promote bicycling as an attractive alternative to vehicular transportation,” to “encourage the use of bicycling as a form of transportation for employment commuting and business purposes, in addition to recreational purposes,” and further, to “establish a bikeway master plan to link employment centers, recreational facilities, and bikeways along the Rio Hondo River, the San Gabriel River, Union Pacific Railroad Line, and those of neighboring communities via a network of bike routes, lanes, and paths.”

In the interim, the city also developed a “Downtown Specific Plan” in late 2010. That plan likewise promoted the idea of a bike master plan by way of the following statement: “Although the City of Downey has not developed a bicycle master plan, the Downtown Downey Specific Plan can serve as a catalyst for creating such a plan.”

Ten years later, that “bikeway master plan” is about to become a reality, though it must be emphasized that this plan too is just a plan. Such plans are necessary to any kind of grant funding, whether from the state or the federal government, since municipal budgets typically do not provide for this kind of infrastructure improvement. So, as was the case with the still ongoing Firestone Boulevard renovation, external funding must be procured. Thus, with bicycle “facilities,” as they’re called, a Bicycle Master Plan is a necessary prequalification.

Furthermore, the priorities of transportation elements other than motorized vehicles have enjoyed greater consideration in recent years. Specifically, current CA State Code adds the following: “As of 2011, the state code added the following language: ‘upon any substantive revisions of the circulation element, the legislative body shall modify the network that meets the needs of all users of streets, roads, and highways for safe and convenient travel in a manner that is suitable to the rural, suburban, or urban context of the general plan.’” Furthermore, the 2011 revision specifies that “‘users of streets, roads, and highways’ mean bicyclists, children, persons with disabilities, motorists, movers of commercial goods, pedestrians, users of public transportation, and seniors.”

The benefits of bicycling have been increasingly recognized in recent years for both their environmental and their health advantages. Environmentally, bicycling reduces pollution from the use of fossil fuels prevalent with motor vehicles and in addition minimizes traffic overcrowding produced especially from single-occupant vehicles, as was appropriately noted in the 2005 Downey General Plan. With respect to health, bicycling provides the added benefit of personal exercise in a city, and, in fact, a nation, beset by overweight and obesity.



Published: Jan. 8, 2015 - Volume 13 - Issue 39