As Turlock's legislative body, the members of the City Council regularly vote on policies that affect the city and its citizenry. On Tuesday, the Council got a glimpse of how their votes truly impact the community when a group of cycling enthusiasts, donned in matching 'Bike Turlock' shirts, showed their support for the City Council adopting the Active Transportation Plan with multiple rounds of applause.
The Active Transportation Plan has been 18 months in the making and includes projects, standards, policies and programs designed to encourage and support biking and walking in the community.
For Turlock resident Elizabeth Claes, the ATP is more than just another City policy. Claes and her family have been using bicycling as their main source of transportation for over five years. She has also been an advocate for creating safer walking and biking routes to school, something specifically addressed in the ATP.
"For me it's so much more than words on a paper and maps, because I believe that active transportation has the power to transform people's lives. And I believe it because I have lived it. Though there are copious amounts of research and data out there to support this belief, it's in my day to day experience that has convinced me that my life is so much better because I bicycle in Turlock," said Claes.
From the start, public participation was a key part in developing the ATP, according to City staff and the consultant hired to help create the Plan.
"We ask you guys to participate in the process and you took up that challenge. [You] have really seen it through and it shows in what we've accomplished here...it's really a testament to our community. People give Council credit for the community that we have and really it's the people in our community that are actively engaged and make these things happen that make our community great," said Council member Steven Nascimento.
The Plan includes 120 miles of bicycling paths or lanes, with 21 bikeway corridor projects including a path around Donnelly Lake and a Lander Avenue biking lane from Main Street to Linwood.
Out of the 22 miles of pedestrian walkways in the Plan, there were 11 corridors identified as priorities for pedestrian infrastructure improvements, including closing gaps in the sidewalk network and improving or providing new crossings at intersections.
A Safe Routes to School program is included in the Plan, with routes mapped for each school campus and recommendations for new programs like a "walking school bus," where organized groups of students walk or bike to school with an adult.
The Plan also includes recommendations for education programs on safety rules and laws and increasing awareness regarding walking and bicycling opportunities.
The City Council voted unanimously to adopt the ATP, including amending the General Plan to include the roadway typologies as standards for new master plan developments.
The estimated cost of implementing all the projects in the ATP is $7 million. On Sept. 16, the City was notified that two of the projects in the ATP were tentatively selected for federal funding and will be recommended to the California Transportation Commission for their approval on Oct. 21-22.
To review the Active Transportation Plan, visit www.bikewalkturlock.com.