Covid kudos: Safer and better biking in Tahoe (Opinion)
There are changes in the air and it’s not just the leaves. School is going back, construction season is wrapping up and Al Tahoe Blvd., is getting a new look.
The Al Tahoe Blvd., mobility project is transforming the wide, sidewalk-less barrier into a complete street with a multi-use path, sidewalks and bike lanes. This project was many years in the making and now provides safe essential connections between U.S. Highway 50, the Bijou Bike Park, South Tahoe Middle School, Lake Tahoe Community College, the community soccer fields, the wildlife center and Pioneer Trail.
Many thanks to the city of South Lake Tahoe for completing this project during an extremely challenging year and applying for funding for the multi-use path connection from Johnson Blvd., to the new section of Greenway.
The construction challenges of 2020 are also evident in the slightly delayed Greenway project. This long-awaited scenic bike path will link Sierra Blvd., to Glenwood Way via a beautiful woodsy trail. After a promising, early May start, the project was delayed because the pre-built boardwalks were not available due to COVID 19-related factory impacts.
The good news is that construction on the Bijou Meadow side is resuming this week. The goal is to have the boardwalk installed before winter begins — as long as weather and the regulatory agencies allow. The final paving will likely be delayed until next year due to lower temperatures. Thank you to El Dorado County for keeping on this project despite the many hurdles.
In other good news, you may have noticed the new signage installed this summer that directs cyclists and pedestrians to key destinations around town. Also, thanks to Tahoe Fund and the Lake Tahoe Bike Coalition, 100 new bike racks were installed this year bringing the 3-year total to almost 450 racks.
In Tahoe, the number of cyclists grows significantly each year. One exciting trend has been the increase of younger cyclists. Since 2018, more kids have been biking and walking to school thanks to active parents and a Safe Routes to School program.
Since the pandemic, many busy working parents have loosened the reins and let their school age kids bike to their friends’ houses, to parks and bike trails, even out to Pope and Baldwin beaches.
The availability of more and safer bike trails around town has contributed to this uptick in ridership. And more bike trails are on the way. Next summer, the city is scheduled to construct a multi-use path along Lake Tahoe Blvd., from the Y to Viking Way — replacing the temporary striping you may have noticed this year and providing the last critical connection between the Meyers bike trail system into town.
Out in Meyers, El Dorado County just applied for funding to construct a bike trail and bridge along San Bernardino, which would connect the Upper Truckee neighborhood to Tahoe Paradise Park, the Environmental Magnet school and the Meyers area in general.
Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s draft Regional Transportation Plan highlights other exciting bike-related projects on the way. The plan proposes 83 additional miles of Class I bike paths including a complete bike trail around the entire lake. An 8-mile section between Sand Harbor and Spooner Summit is slated for construction by 2025 as well as a four-mile gap closure near Kings Beach and Tahoe Vista.
Closer to South Shore, the final section of the West Shore Tahoe Trail is expected to be constructed around Emerald Bay by 2035, closing a sizable gap between Spring Creek Rd./Baldwin Beach area and Meeks Bay. Local agencies will also continue work on key segments of the South Tahoe Greenway, eventually connecting Meyers to Van Sickle Bi-State Park.
There are many opportunities for the community members to weigh in on and support the acceleration of bike trails and other recreation improvements. The Community Mobility Workgroup urges you to get involved and make your voice heard.
A public webinar on the Regional Transportation Plan is from noon to 1 p.m. Monday, Oct. 12, https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_PZa_Z2QFRmK6NOg-OFHbGQ.
A public webinar on the Community Recreation & Aquatics Center will be held from 5:30-7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21. Public survey is available at https://southlaketahoereccenter.konveio.com/.
Rebecca Bryson is co-chair of the Community Mobility Workgroup.
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