Sacramento Region Planning Multi-City Bike Freeway System

Synthia Stark
Photo by Chris Kendall on Unsplash

Well over 50 years ago, California state transformed Sacramento in a very big way — they created an interconnected highway system that goes through the capital region area. Now, it’s time for pedestrians and bicycles to get the same treatment, according to the Sacramento Area Council of Governments.

The Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) represents county and city leaders in the six-county area and wants people to submit their interests surrounding bike travel in an online survey, that may help out with future trail planning.

If we take a look at the survey, we see the following:
Screenshot from the SACOG page

The survey is pretty interactive and it’s great that the community gets to be involved in the process. According to James Corless, the executive director of SACOG:

“I think we could be the cycling capital of the United States. We have a great climate. A lot of our region is flat. The demand for safe spaces to walk and bike for families and kids is not going away. It’s a way to connect low-income people to jobs. It’s a public health issue.”

To date, the region has a rough patchwork of off-street biking corridors and includes many trails like the 32-mile American River Bike Trail, the off-street bike trail systems in Folsom and Davis.

The city of Sacramento has plans to turn a four-mile stretch of an old railroad corridor into an off-street bike lane running from Meadowview to William Land Park.
Screenshot from the SACOG page

Citrus Heights and Orangevale are scheduled to be connected via a three-mile bike and walking trail running on an electrical power corridor next to Arcade and Cripple creeks.

If we take a look at the Citrus Heights website, we can see more information surrounding the Arcade-Cripple Creek Trail Project (formerly Electric Greenway Trail Project): 

“The city will soon construct a 2.9-mile long multi-use trail between Sunrise Boulevard (near Arcade Creek Park Preserve) and Wachtel Way that will largely follow an existing Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) electric corridor easement. The project is located in the city and unincorporated Orangevale and connects several neighborhoods to seven parks, several schools, and the Sunrise MarketPlace.”

Furthermore, SACOG has big plans in the summer to design a better-linked system where blanks are filled in to help all those who ride bikes, even for long and short distances. The regional estimates are 300 more miles of trail to help out with the existing 450 miles that are already there.

This system is pretty ambitious, and it could include doing things like turning old rail lines into multi-use bike lanes such as in Placerville and El Dorado Hills….or even creating bikeways in other areas, like rover the American River next to the Capital City Freeway.

The possibilities are endless really.
Photo by Bruno Adam on Unsplash

If more funding is awarded, then more localized bike routes can be found, such as the one from Marysville and Yuba City. It would be a good idea since there is an unused Union Pacific rail corridor that can be used to link different shopping districts, residential areas, parks, offices, and medical buildings.

One of the members of the SACOG board is Yuba City Councilman Shon Harris. Such a project in Yuba City would be amazing, but a bit expensive too. It may require a lot of intense negotiations especially since cyclists need safety too. For example, there needs to be a better way to get cyclists to safely cross Highways 20 and 99.

You can take a look at the map below:

Meanwhile, in densely packed areas, like the city of Sacramento, there’s been some experimentation in closing some downtown streets to create direct bike path lanes into the central business distinct. 

For now, the concept has been in the works for many years, but given current world events, this would be a great time to take advantage — bike sales have gone through the roof and more people are interested in outdoor recreation like cycling.

While it would take a lot of planning and money, this initiative would help many California residents, especially in the long run. Until then, the public survey will help SACOG to better understand the needs of the people — the people of Sacramento deserve that much.

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