Downey: Summer of cycling

DOWNEY – Bicycling is on the move in Downey. At its latest meeting on Tuesday, May 13, the City Council approved a “Professional Services Agreement for Preparation of a Citywide Bicycle Master Plan.”  In layman’s terms, what that means is that the city is hiring a consultant to direct the preparation of the plan, which is a long-term set of goals designed to make the city more bicycle friendly. That consultant is Fehr and Peers, a widely respected transportation planning firm doing business in several western states in 2013, according to its website, with a particular focus on California urban areas.

As the agreement points out, Fehr and Peers is also currently preparing an Active Transportation Plan for the Gateway Cities Council of Governments, of which Downey is a member.

The opening statement of the agreement reads as follows: “The city desires to accommodate and promote bicycle transportation as a viable alternate mode of travel.  In order to lay the groundwork for this initiative, the city is proposing the development of a Bicycle Master Plan to serve as a blueprint for the development and gradual implementation of the city’s bicycle circulation system, to establish a policy framework that will enhance bicyclist mobility and safety and to comply with the [City of Downey] General Plan by identifying active transportation as a travel alternative and a strategy for meeting the mobility needs of residents, workers and visitors.”

Furthermore, the agreement proposes the ambitious goal of October 2014, for preparation and adoption of the Master Plan, which will include extensive public outreach, as well as data collection, needs assessment, analysis of proposed bike facilities, and completion of the document. As has been widely reported, the funds for this project were largely provided by a State Community-Based Transportation Planning grant through Caltrans.

Mayor Fernando Vasquez also announced these developments at the most recent Stay Healthy Downey partnership meeting. Vasquez, along with Councilman Mario Guerra, have generated the impetus for a day-long citywide event entitled “Rock ’n’ Ride,” which is scheduled for June 14.  “Rock ’n’ Ride” will combine three morning bicycling events dubbed “Tour de Downey” with the second annual celebration of “Make Music Downey,” a community live music event featuring local artists performing many different genres of music at several venues in the downtown area.

The Tour de Downey rides, planned in conjunction with the Downey Bicycle Coalition, will include a long-distance ride from City Hall to Shoreline Village in Long Beach via the Los Angeles River Bike Path.  That ride, about 35 miles in length, will depart at 7:30 a.m. A second community ride, a 6-mile loop on central Downey streets, will depart City Hall at 9 a.m. Finally, a “Tour de Trainees” seminar for children ages 3 to 7 will take place at the City Hall Civic Center at 10 a.m.  Participants should bring their own bike and helmet.

The Tour de Trainees is a free event taught by Downey Policy Department officers specializing in cycling. Registration for all three Tour de Downey events is available online through June 6 at

Finally, the Downey Bicycle Coalition will be doubling up its monthly rides from June through August, beginning with the Tour de Downey on June 14. DBC “Summer Cycling” community rides will continue on the last Saturday of the month at 8:30 a.m. on July 26 and Aug. 30.  Long-distance rides will begin on Saturday, May 31, at 8:30 a.m. with a 46-mile trip up the San Gabriel River Trail to the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains in Azusa, and will continue, following the Tour de Downey, on July 12 and on Aug. 23.