Sides ar­gue about Lodi bike lane plans

Lodi News-Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Oula Miq­bel NEWS-SEN­TINEL STAFF WRITER

The Lodi City Coun­cil had a con­tentious dis­cus­sion about the Church Street bike lane ex­pan­sion pro­ject dur­ing the Wed­nes­day night coun­cil meet­ing at Carnegie Forum.

Af­ter City Man­ager Steve Sch­wabauer read the con­sent cal­en­dar, Coun­cil­woman JoAnne Mounce, asked the mayor to pull an agenda item re­gard­ing the Church Street Road Diet — a seg­ment of Church Street be­tween Lodi Av­enue and Lock­e­ford Street that will be re­duced from four lanes to three in an ef­fort to ex­pand bike lanes in Down­town Lodi.

“I have had business own­ers on Church Street voice con­cerns about the bike lanes, and they do not want to see the street go from four to two lanes be­cause it will in­crease road con­ges­tion on that street,” Mounce said.

A city traf­fic sim­u­la­tor, tested by pub­lic works staff ear­lier this year, pro­duced a model of what the traf­fic would look like dur­ing peak hours and found that the pro­ject would re­duce col­li­sions on Church Street, and re­duce travel on the road­way by two min­utes.

Ac­cord­ing to Mounce, the city had pre­vi­ously had a two-lane street on Church Street, but the city was forced to in­crease the lanes to four due to traf­fic.

Pub­lic Works Di­rec­tor Char­lie Swim­ley said he could not con­firm the de­tails of Mounce’s claim due to a lack of records re­gard­ing past street projects.

De­spite the lack of records, Mounce felt the re­duc­tion of the driv­ing lanes would not prove to be ben­e­fi­cial to the com­mu­nity be­cause she thinks the lane change would only fa­cil­i­tate a small por­tion of the city’s res­i­dents.

“How long will this last be­fore we change it back from two to four lanes?” Mounce asked.

Coun­cil­man Bob John­son agreed with Mounce, stat­ing he rarely sees bi­cy­clists around Lodi and asked whether it would be fis­cally ad­van­ta­geous for the city to add bike lines around town.

“I of­ten drive around Elm Street and Lower Sacra­mento Road and I rarely see bi­cy­clists on those streets, uti­liz­ing the bike lanes,” John­son said.

Both Mayor Pro Tem­pore Doug Kuehne and Mayor Mark Chandler dis­puted claims that the city lacked cy­clists.

“Bi­cy­cles have be­come a pop­u­lar mode of trans­porta­tion for en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious res­i­dents, and it is also a source of tourism that brings peo­ple to Lodi,” Chandler said.

Bike Lodi Pres­i­dent Kathryn Sid­dle ad­dressed the coun­cil, say­ing she has records high­light­ing the in­crease in bike users as a re­sult of the Bike Valet ser­vice the group of­fers.

“Bike Lodi parked 350 bikes weekly dur­ing the (16 week) sum­mer farm­ers mar­ket, and what we heard from cy­clists was they wish the roads were safer. We are only ask­ing that one lane be added to con­nect peo­ple on

bikes safely to down­town,” Sid­dle said.

Sid­dle said as bikes be­come more prom­i­nent among re­gional com­muters, Ad­ven­tist Health has re­quested Bike Lodi par­tic­i­pate in health fairs and stu­dent fairs, and ed­u­cate res­i­dents about the group and the ser­vices they of­fer as well as the events they host.

“We have do­nated over 300 bike hel­mets to stu­dents this year, and we had 138 cy­clists at our Park-To-Park bike ride,” Sid­dle said.

Kuehne said that at a meet­ing hosted by the Lodi Cham­ber of Com­merce re­gard­ing the Church Street bike lane ex­pan­sion pro­ject, many business own­ers saw a need for an ex­tended bike lane.

“The room was packed, and there was not a sin­gle naysayer in the room,” Kuehne said.

Mounce said the busi­nesses that reached out to her were not cham­ber mem­bers and were not made aware of the pro­ject un­til the city coun­cil voted for it.

“Would it be pos­si­ble to stop the pro­ject?” Coun­cil­man Alan Nakan­ishi asked Swim­ley.

Since the coun­cil ap­proved the pro­ject dur­ing a May meet­ing, monies have been al­lo­cated for the pro­ject us­ing Mea­sure K fund­ing — a half-cent sales tax orig­i­nally passed in 1980 to fund trans­porta­tion im­prove­ments in San Joaquin County.

Lodi’s Pub­lic Works Depart­ment fi­nal­ized the street de­sign for the pro­ject this past sum­mer and pre­sented a de­tailed plan be­fore the city coun­cil dur­ing a shirt­sleeve meet­ing in April.

The pro­ject would mod­ify a seg­ment of North Church Street be­tween Lodi Av­enue and Lock­e­ford Street will be re­duced from two to one lane each way and in­clude a cen­ter turn lane.

There will be des­ig­nated bike lanes on both sides of the street, along with park­ing spaces. The bike lanes will pro­vide a striped lane for one-way travel along the street.

The bike lanes will be four to five feet wide and will have ac­ces­si­ble curb ramps at in­ter­sec­tions. Ex­ist­ing traf­fic sig­nals will be mod­i­fied to have sep­a­rate left- or right-turn ar­rows and video de­tec­tion sys­tems for cy­clists and mo­torists.

The city will also re-stripe the street and in­crease the street space for mo­tor ve­hi­cles, as well as ad­di­tional spaces for park­ing on ei­ther end of the street. Left-turn lanes will be added at Lodi Av­enue and Lock­e­ford Street, ac­cord­ing to the city’s con­cept map.

The bike lane ex­pan­sion is pro­jected to cost $1.6 mil­lion of which $1.46 mil­lion will come from Mea­sure K.

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