The tragic death of bicyclist Willie Lopez serves as a stark reminder that our county roads are increasingly becoming urban thoroughfares that share narrow lanes with farm machinery, bicyclists and suburban traffic.
Yolo County Supervisor Matt Rexroad recently remarked on his blog:
“This should further prioritize a dedicated bike path between Woodland and Davis.”
Two years ago marked a spike in Multiple-Casualty Incidents. As a result, a task force was created by Supervisor Mariko Yamada to determine why deaths on county roads were increasing at such a high rate.
According to her, no patterns has emerged but they were able to identify the top 20 most dangerous roadways and intersections in Yolo County and have obtained a grant to help get data on where road upgrades need to occur.
Yolo County now has a master plan for bikeways and is actively seeking to produce a dedicated bike path between Davis and Woodland.
They are also looking at an improved transportation corridor between Woodland and Davis that would help create a pathway for electric vehicles. The “e-ways” as they are calling it, would be a dedicated pathway that has a portion set aside for bicyclists and another portion for electric vehicles.
These are all steps in the right direction. There are actually two important issues that come together. On the one hand, basic safety for bicyclists who need a pathway away from vehicle traffic that travels in excess of 60 mph on narrow roads. The other of course in environmental, creating pathways for easy access for both bikes and electric vehicles, would create an incentive to use those vehicles instead of cars on the short trek between the two cities.
There is already a dedicated bike path along side I-80 over the causeway between Davis and West Sacramento. However it would be helpful there as well to have a way for electric vehicle to be able to go over the causeway and into West Sacramento and Sacramento itself.
The City of Davis is also looking to expand the accessibility of the dedicated bike path from Davis to West Sacramento.
Ken Celli wrote a letter to the editor on October 24, 2007:
“On Monday night, the Bicycle Advisory Committee voted to expedite four capital projects for inclusion in the existing Bicycle Plan, one of which would be a connector ramp from either the Pelz Bicycle Overcrossing or Pole Line overpass to the Old Route 40 bike path that parallels Interstate 80. This is the bike path that is sandwiched between I-80 and the railroad tracks. Currently, the only Davis access to this bike path is from Richards Boulevard (via Olive Drive) or Mace Boulevard. There is no access in between.
By opening up this corridor, all of North, East and South Davis can commute entirely by bike path east toward Sacramento without dangerously commingling in the rush-hour automobile traffic on Fifth Street, Second Street or Mace Boulevard; traffic that is projected to increase four-fold with commercial development on Second Street near Mace.”
The city of Davis was the first city to have dedicated bike paths, however, it is time for Davis to expand itself far reaching view into the next century. Davis needs to lead the way to help push the county to expand its bike access paths so that safety can be a high priority for all bicyclists. Just as importantly, the more people we can get out of their combustion driven cars and into alternative means of transportation, the better we will be able to reduce our carbon footprint, a stated goal of the city council.
A Davis-Woodland bike path seems like a perfect partnership project between Davis, Woodland, and the Yolo County Board of Supervisors. Hopefully the Davis City Council will step up as well to make this goal a reality.
—Doug Paul Davis reporting