Bicycle Club Celebrates the Gift of New Bike Lanes in Modesto
Cyclists from throughout Stanislaus County came together recently to celebrate a special gift from the city of Modesto—new bicycle lanes that will make it easier and safer to traverse the city on two wheels.
Approximately 25 members of the Stanislaus County Bicycle Club gathered on Saturday December 5th at Modesto Junior College, where the most visible part of the recent bicycling improvements have been made, for a celebratory ride.
“I rode 35 miles the other day,” said Susan Dion, the bike club’s president. “It’s really incredible what we have now.”
The bike ride started on College Avenue, where the city has implemented a road diet, and continued down 9th Street’s new curb-protected, two-way bike lane connecting the two campuses of Modesto Junior College. The group returned via the new Briggsmore Avenue bicycle lanes. Those with extra energy to burn on the cold morning continued on to the 35-mile route Dion had scouted the day before.
Modesto was fairly well-connected before the new lanes were added, according to Michael Sacuskie, who, along with his colleague Philip Soares, rode with the group on Saturday. Both are engineers in Modesto’s Transportation Engineering and Design department and helped bring this project to fruition. In the past few years, said Sacuskie, the city’s been going beyond “what I like to call ‘checking the box,’ and really making thoughtful projects.”
Typically, Sacuskie said, the department tries to follow the existing non-motorized transportation plan, but the new direction has been: “any time we can accommodate a bike lane, let’s try to.” This was the case with College Avenue, which didn’t initially call for the buffered bicycle lanes it now has. They were nonetheless added to a repaving project.
The improvements have brought a few phone calls from residents who don’t understand why the city is putting so much effort into bicycling infrastructure. But, said Sacuskie, he was surprised there weren’t more. In Modesto, people are mainly supportive of the new bicycle-friendly direction.
“It’s public support that is going to keep things moving,” Sacuskie said. The next project he’s working on is connecting the Virginia Corridor, a 4.2 mile trail, to the new 9th Street cycle track.
Even though the crowd that went on the celebratory ride was made up of mainly of people who are already bicycling enthusiasts, club member Karen Shoup said she plans to invite the commuter students who take classes at both campuses of Modesto Junior College to a group ride on the new bicycle lanes.
“I heard that it is faster taking the bike lanes than it is driving,” she said.
Dion, who bicycles to work in West Modesto, said the increased connectivity has given her something she didn’t have before.
“Now that there are so many bike lanes, I get to choose which [route to take].”