The Fresno City Council has postponed consideration of a broad plan to improve walking trails, pedestrian walkways, and bicycle lanes and trails.
The Active Transportation Plan, under development for the city by Fehr & Peers Transportation Consultants since last year, was pulled from Thursday’s agenda at the request of Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria. The plan is proposed as an update of the city’s previous Bicycle, Pedestrian and Trails Master Plan, last updated in 2010.
Among the plan’s goals are establishing priorities for improving the safety of the transportation system for pedestrians and bicyclists. That includes investments to expand the geographic equity of access to walking and biking lanes, paths and trails throughout the city as well as to fill gaps in the existing system of trails and bikeways.
The city’s Planning Commission already voted Dec. 7 to recommend that the council adopt the Active Transportation Plan.
Soria said she asked to delay the item to allow more time for council members to study a proposed matrix that would help determine the scoring of individual pedestrian or bicycle improvement projects on a priority list for spending.
The proposed plan calls for the eventual expansion of the city’s existing 491 miles of bicycle lanes and routes by nearly 950 miles, to 1,438 miles of lanes and paths, and sets forth a plan for identifying missing sidewalks and other areas for infrastructure improvements for walkers.
The plan estimates the long-range costs for highest-priority improvements at nearly $115 million. The total for high-, medium- and low-priority improvement projects is more than $1.3 billion.
Prior to Thursday’s council meeting, two community advocacy groups expressed reservations about some aspects of the plan.
“Low-income residents in southeast Fresno have expressed satisfaction with the overall plan, but continue to be concerned that the implementation portion did not sufficiently prioritize the need for investments in their disadvantaged neighborhoods,” wrote Genoveva Islas, program director for Cultiva La Salud.
Leadership Counsel for Justice & Accountability also weighed in with pre-meeting comments in a letter to the City Council over the plan’s priorities for low-income areas. “The lack of adequate infrastructure puts children, parents, the elderly, the disabled and other residents who are forced to share the roadway with diesel trucks and other vehicles,” wrote Grecia Elenes, a policy advocate for the organization. As a result, she added, those residents must “walk on unlit, muddy and flooded roadways at risk every day.”
“The ATP thus has the potential either to serve as a critical tool to advance solutions to Fresno’s basic infrastructure deficiencies, or to further entrench historic neighborhood-level disparities,” Elenes added.