Calexico Looks To Upgrade Bicycle Lanes
BY MARIO CONDE
The work to have an updated Calexico Bicycle Master Plan Update in now underway as input from the community was sought at a recent workshop.
A series of workshops where held last Wednesday, May 24, at the Carmen Durazo Cultural Arts Center to get feedback from residents about the best location around Calexico to establish the bicycle lanes.
The Calexico Bicycle plan was adopted by the Calexico City Council in May 27, 2003. A complete and approved update to this document has not occurred since 2003. In addition, an update to this plan will better reflect current area conditions and stakeholder desires which, is likely to better position the City in its pursuit of other funding sources.
The updated plan, which has been given the working title of Calexico Bicycle Master Plan Update, will provide a comprehensive approach to the provision of non-motorized path of travel for both transportation and recreational uses. The plan seeks to create a complete conceptual network for cyclist that can introduce new and improved travel paths that connect both existing and planned facilities.
The updated plan will help the City to create and improve bicycle access to key facilities and destinations, including shopping center, employment centers, schools, parks and public facilities.
The project will reassess the 2003 CBMP for improvements recommended throughout the city associated with both existing developed and new development areas. These improvements will provide a comprehensive bicycle network for the City. Although many recommended improvements and unbuilt segments of the original plan have not changed since the original plan, the improvements that have been made to date and unbuilt segments will be assessed and bicycle routes throughout the City will be developed with input from the community and city commissions.
Brian Gaze, a consultant from Chen-Ryan firm, said that the County updated its Bicycle Master Plan in 2011 that focused more on regional connections and the Imperial County Transportation Commission developed its Safe Routes to Schools plan and a border impact study that looked at a bicycle plan as well.
Calexico resident Susana Favela stated that grants need to be secured in order to make sure bicycle users feel safe in good infrastructure.
“A lot of people here in the valley are not savvy with the bike rules,” Favela said. “We want to make sure that people that are going to be riding bikes that they will feel safe riding around town.”
Gaze said that infrastructure grants are more expensive but a successful grant will help with education about how to use vehicles can share the road with bicyclist.
“Imperial County does a good job on grants because there is a component that looks at air quality issues and areas that look at shifting trips to bicycles,” Gaze said.
The group discussed the possible location for the bike lanes that will good for residents and people that cross from Mexicali with the bicycles. The discussion then focused on the upcoming traffic flow changes in Calexico with the expansion of the State Highway 98 and the widening of Cesar Chavez Boulevard now that the new port of entry is set to open.
It was agreed that the upcoming New River Parkway project would be included in the new updated plan. The objective of the New River Parkway, as stated in the New River Project Strategic Plan, is to create open space on the north side of the river. This area will be graded and hydro-seeded. Bike and pedestrian paths will be constructed. Soccer fields and baseball fields would be constructed. Public restrooms will also be provided.
It was also agreed that there needed to be a joint educational campaign on both sides of the border so that bicyclist can know the laws and routes they have to take.
Mexicali resident Jose Antonio Ojeda representing “Mexicali Bici” hopes the plan can be implemented and keep in mind the flow of bicyclist that comes from Mexicali that come here to shop, work, or go to school. The municipality of Mexicali also has contemplated establishing a new bike route but as of today it has not been established.
“Most bicyclists that come from Mexicali come from the East Port of Entry but I think we can give an importance to the people that cross to the Imperial Valley to make it easier to come here. The bicycle routes have great potential to change the phase of both of our cities,” Ojeda stated.