Bike to the future

Kudos to Chico City Council for acting in the interest of cyclists and the community

If Chico’s a bike city, it’s inconsistent that its most beloved boulevard—The Esplanade—is unfriendly to cyclists. With its frontage roads, congested and confusing intersections and lack of clear signage, it remains one of Chico’s most uncomfortable passages on a bike.

And so we’re delighted that, during a special meeting on The Esplanade Corridor Improvement Study on Thursday (April 14), the Chico City Council voted 5-2 to approve the future construction of a separated, two-way bike lane from Memorial Way to 11th Avenue.

The council’s decision to invest in dedicated bike lanes was sound for several reasons. First, traffic congestion is only going to get worse as Chico grows. Investing in bike and pedestrian infrastructure now is a smart way to ease that problem in the future.

Then there are financial considerations. Relatively speaking, bike infrastructure costs a fraction of most other public transportation investments. Cycling is also far less expensive than driving for individuals—think of the fuel, registration and maintenance costs associated with auto ownership—and for society, too, as everyone shoulders the costs of maintaining streets worn down by heavy vehicles and providing health care for unhealthy, inactive people.

Another boon is connectivity. The bike lane on The Esplanade will link downtown to the bike lane that starts at the bridge over Lindo Channel and continues all the way to Chico Municipal Airport, thereby completing an arterial, north-to-south bike route.

Cyclists: Imagine cruising along The Esplanade and absorbing its beauty without the stress of riding with disorganized motorized traffic. We can’t wait.