TRPA to reveal plan for cyclists |

TRPA to reveal plan for cyclists

Susan Wood

Gearing up for an upcoming explosion of vehicle traffic around the Lake Tahoe Basin, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is taking a draft of its bicycle and pedestrian master plan to the streets.

TRPA introduces the plan at the Tahoe Region Advocates for Cycling’s regular meeting slated for 6 p.m. tonight at the Best Western at Stateline. The plan, in a draft phase, was put together as a policy statement TRPA planner Nick Haven hopes will “help with congestion.”

TRPA projects daily peak summer vehicle-trips in the region will increase about 35 percent to 462,700 cars traveling around the basin by 2025.

By all accounts, agency representatives and cycling advocates agree on the need for a plan that serves as framework upon which to build a bicycle network.

The proposal covers safety education, land-use development, commuting needs, environmental considerations, joint funding preparation and making a pedestrian friendly crosswalk plan.

“Pedestrian issues are pretty big on the South Shore,” Haven said.

TRPA has been battling with the California Department of Transportation to get back mid-block crosswalks taken off U.S. Highway 50 because an older study convinced the agency it gave “a pedestrian a false sense of security,” he said.

In cycling circles, South Lake Tahoe has gained notoriety as somewhat of a dangerous place for two-wheeled traffic. This perception exists despite safety programs given by agencies ranging from the California Highway Patrol to the Lake Tahoe Unified School District.

The plan shows the majority of bicycle-related accidents reported around the basin clustered on the South Shore.

“Tahoe is not set up to ride safely,” bike commuter and TRAC member Karen Smallwood said. “The main thing in Tahoe is there doesn’t seem to be an overall attitude among agencies to make travel conducive to anything other than cars.”

Smallwood dodges vehicles and storm drains every day on her way to her Tahoe Baikal Institute job and the grocery store. “If there was a class 2 bike trail along U.S. Highway 50, I think most people would take it.”

Cyclist and TRAC member Tom Wendell agrees.

He also advocates a bike path between Meyers and Stateline that would take cycling traffic off the road.

Class 1 and 2 bike paths are separated from the highway, while Class 3 bike lanes run alongside the road.

Smallwood and Wendell are also pushing for construction on the city’s already approved “missing link” along Harrison Avenue that would join the Highway 50 bike path that ends at Lakeview Avenue with the southern end that begins at Los Angeles Avenue.

Haven will ask for the top three projects from the local advocacy group that started six months ago to endorse and inspire cycling as a viable means of alternative transportation.

From there, the TRPA will request the consulting firm that assembled the report to put together an application for funding those top three priorities.

Increased federal and state funding has remained consistent in the last decade for those agencies seeking to develop projects that serve the cycling public. This includes California Senate Bill 10 that extends Caltrans’ Safe Routes to School program created by Sen. Nell Soto, D-Ontario by $72 million over three years. The measure recently passed the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Many insiders say that while the funding is in place, the resources in small agency jurisdictions like Lake Tahoe are fewer and further between, Haven observed.

“Grant writing is sometimes gravy,” he said. “The only thing holding us up is staff time.”

Haven also hopes to work on streamlining the process within TRPA to get projects through without jeopardizing the environmental integrity of the region.

What: Tahoe Region Advocates for Cycling

meeting to discuss Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Regional Bike Plan

When: 6 p.m. today

Where: Best Western Station House Inn, 901 Park Ave. near Stateline

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