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Turlock is not a bike friendly city, survey finds

POSTED June 11, 2013 7:30 p.m.

If one were to drive down a busy street in Turlock, they would most likely see an assortment of cars, trucks and even on rare occasions, tractors. However, sighting bicycles seems to be a more daunting task. The reason behind the lack of bikes?

Turlock is not a bike friendly city.

According to a recent survey performed by a group of students at California State University, Stanislaus, students on campus overwhelmingly chose four wheels over two.

Of the 600 students surveyed, only 15 percent chose to bike to campus.

CSU Stanislaus geography student Anthony Fagundes presented these findings to the Turlock Planning Commission last week.

Fagundes said the purpose of the study was to figure out why students who lived near campus were choosing not to ride bikes, and what the university and the community could do to change that.

“We wanted to figure out how do we get people who live close to ride a bike,” said Fagundes. “Some of these people live two miles away and they still choose to drive.”

Fagundes used the examples of cities like Davis and Chico, and how the universities and cities there have developed a strong biking community.

Fagundes stated these campuses all had amenities like bike maintenance stations, bike lockers and bike showers. All of which helped promote biking on their respective campuses.

The study also noted that poor road conditions and lack of bike lanes were a deterrent for those looking to bike to campus and around town.

According to the study, 85 percent of students surveyed said that dedicated bikes lanes would be effective in promoting more students to bike to campus.

Geer Road, Christoffersen Parkway and Crowell Road were all examples of streets that lacked dedicated bike plans.

“Students have to deal with people parking in bike lanes or dodging people opening their car doors,” said Fagundes. 

Debbie Whitmore, deputy director of developmental services for the City of Turlock, stated that the reason Turlock has not been able to establish a strong biking community is due to a previously developed general plan that gave priority to drivers over bikers.

“The provided study is very interesting,” said Whitmore. “There were definitely some omissions in the general plan map.”

Whitmore said that although previous plans have not been as biker friendly, the newly developed plan is keeping bikers in mind. She went on to say that the new plan is “turning up the heat” on bicycle funds and the city is actively looking for new sources for funding including highway impact funds, Caltrans planning grants,  and local transportation funds.

“As a cyclist, I can tell you that cyclists want to go the same places that drivers do,” said Whitmore.

Mike Brem, Planning Commission chair, applauded Fagundes and the rest of the surveyors on their efforts, and said he hopes this study will spur future action on a collaborative effort  by the university and the city to improve biking conditions in Turlock.

“This a project that is meaningful for the college and the community,” said Brem. “I really salute you for what you’ve done there, too."

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