Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A bicycle superhighway for the SP right-of-way?

I get that fact that the railroad right-of-way is an ideal corridor to locate a major recreation trail in El Dorado County (alongside the train, of course). The El Dorado Western Railway has long supported a combined rail and trail system of the historic Southern Pacific Placerville Branch rail line right-of-way. It seems to me that the overwhelming majority of people will drive to one of the rail/trail heads to ride the train or hike or ride (bike or horse) on the trail (or to do both!).

What I don't get is the potential for the right-of-way to become a major bicycle transportation artery, a ‘superhighway’ of sorts. Other than a dedicated minority, who is going to use the bike path to commute to and from school and work? Without hundreds of miles of bike lanes on county roads feeding into the right-of-way/bike superhighway, how is this going to be practical?

A case in point: As a high school senior who attends Union Mine High School, the proposed bicycle superhighway wouldn't benefit my son. Living on east side of Diamond Springs, he'd ride his bicycle westward down Main Street/Pleasant Valley Road to Koki Lane. I suppose the right-of-way would be of benefit if he attended El Dorado High, but he doesn't. And since I work in mid-town Sacramento, it's impractical to commute via bicycle.

And what about Cameron Park and El Dorado Hills? The Southern Pacific right-of-way doesn't even travel through these communities. Once the tracks leave Shingle Springs, they head south for Latrobe, before turning north for Folsom. Does the county plan to connect these communities with a second major Class I bike path?

We'd love to hear constructive comments on this issue. What are your thoughts? Do you support the concept of a bicycle superhighway? Or do you believe that the right-of-way should be reserved for trains and recreation only?

Is this the reason that the Friends of the El Dorado Trail are pushing for a Class I trail on the right-of-way? For those who don’t know, a Class I trail is a "bike path that is completely separated from other uses." If I read this right, that means that you need two paved trails, one for the commuter bike path and the other for pedestrians, etc.

One further question: Is this is the reason that the Friends of the El Dorado Trail have ardently pushed to rip out the tracks from the county line to Mother Lode Drive (at the El Dorado Wye)? For the record, the Friends have agreed to share the right-of-way with the train in the segment plan for Mother Lode Drive to Missouri Flat Road, which coincides with the El Dorado County Historical Railroad Park.

The El Dorado Trail segment from Missouri Flat Road to the Forni Road is a Class II trail. According to the article, this means that bicycles and pedestrians share the same paved trail.

Biking not just for fun anymore
By Chris Daley

El Dorado County supervisors learned the difference between a bike lane and a bike path Tuesday. They also learned that the county's Bicycle Transportation Plan has nothing to do with going out for a ride on the weekend. It's about serious transportation, not about recreation.

Dan Bolster, an engineer with the Department of Transportation assigned to the county’s Transportation Commission, delivered a slide presentation to the board updating the bicycle transportation element of the General Plan.

Calling the El Dorado Trail a "corollary to Highway 50 for bicycle transportation," Bolster described the long-range plan to complete the non-motorized, multi-use trail from Pollock Pines to Folsom. Within the terms of the plan, it is anticipated that the trail would be used by residents commuting to and from work and by children getting to and from school. That the trail is also a major recreation facility does not figure into the BTP.

Continue reading by clicking here.


bill said...

not to pop anyone's balloon, but if i want to commute to rancho cordova or folsom, i would not want to go via latrobe, rather i would like the green valley road route-serious bike commuters would be well served to get a bike lane added to the green valley road route, which will tie in to the american river trail. i do really think that a bike route to south lake tahoe either hwy 50 or 88 is another great idea, possibly mormon emigrant trail bike lane would kick it off??
keep up the good work steve-you are keeping them honest, for sure.

cu sat a.m. bill

Anonymous said...

Honest is an interesting choice of words. The designation of Class 1 is likely used for funding purposes. There is no hidden agenda, no ulterior motive. A multi-use trail will benefit young and old, even those in wheelchairs. The American river parkway has been successful for a reason. It involved forward thinking individuals, patience and community involvement. You guys know that putting your hobby on display, and selling tickets will only benefit a small group of people for a short time. Eventually, voters, tax-payers and a new generation of city and county leaders will follow Sacramento's lead and develop a contiguous trail network. Look around the country, you will find hundreds of successful examples. While quaint, your efforts will not bring the revenue, and the corresponding support from said leaders. Wax nostalgic while you can. My son's generation will read about it in a field trip to the museum.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mike

Rob Joice said...

I fully agree with the second comment. Although your excursion rail may appeal to a minority of rail enthusiasts, a multi-use trail along the right-of-way would not only be beneficial to local residents for transportation and recreation purposes, but tourists also, creating revenue and publicity as a result. Although I respect your enthusiasm for this excursion railroad, a multi-use trail is much more in the public interest, and as the years go on, will be seen as the ideal use of the rail corridor.