Tahoe counties to harness pedal power | SierraSun.com

Tahoe counties to harness pedal power

Laura Brown
Sun News Service

Emma Garrard/Sierra Sun file photoA cyclist rides past a sign on Donner Pass Road indicating the end of the bike lane. The Town of Truckee will widen a portion of the road for a bike lane to implement the town's bike plan.

Nevada County’s winding, narrow roads, with little to no shoulders, inhibit a number of would-be bicyclists from taking to the street, but state funding now could provide relief.

Supervisors adopted an updated version of the county’s bicycle master plan last week, making the county eligible for some of the $5 million from the state’s bicycle transportation account.

While much of the county’s plan update focused on the western county, county planners integrated Truckee’s recent update of the trails and bikeways master plan into the wider county plan.

“What that will do is, by having the two plans consistent with one another, it will make our projects eligible for state and federal funding,” said Truckee Public Works Director Dan Wilkins.

Wilkins said the Truckee River Legacy Trail would be the most likely project the town would go after that funding for. After supervisors approved the Nevada County plan, one bicycling lobbyist praised its vision.

“This is what we’ve been waiting for,” said Janelle Black of the Alliance for People Powered Transportation, a group that promotes bicycling.

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Black helped rally the 144 bicyclists who filled out a survey for the plan.

More than one-third of those surveyed use a bicycle to commute to work. Most of them cited concerns about limited paths and bike lanes as the main reason for not riding.

The other major concern was “driver-related safety associated with traffic volumes, speeds and failure to yield or share the road.”

The state money is earmarked for three types of bicycle projects, including bike pathways, striped lanes in existing roadways to separate bicycles from cars, and signs alerting motorists to share the road with bicyclists.

“When there is no shoulder, it can get super scary,” said Brian Mendiola, who works at the bike shop Xtreme Outfitters in Grass Valley and competes in mountain bike races nationally. He knows some bicyclists who have been hit by cars and others who won’t ride because of the limited bike lanes.

“It’s a big reason why a majority of people don’t ride,” Mendiola said.

“One issue is maintenance and keeping glass and debris out of the routes we have,” said Dan Landon, executive director of the county’s transportation

commission, who starting riding a year and a half ago and rode in the Death Ride this summer.