Planners pedal toward two-wheeled future

With the Main Street Plan in its rearview mirror and town zoning code updates about to follow suit, the town’s planning commission this past week brought back an old chestnut.

The General Bikeway Plan, first unveiled nearly two decades ago and revisited four times since then, got another look on Wednesday, Feb. 26, by the town’s re-named Planning and Economic Development Commission.

Since the last go-around, in 2008, a lot of tread has been worn on the old 1995 report, and if nothing else, the 2014 version updated proposed action plans, along with new federal and state funding sources.

“The town’s plan provides a blueprint for making bicycling an integral part of daily life in Mammoth,” the report begins.

“This plan will guide the future development of bicycle facilities and programs in the town … and is necessary to maintain eligibility for federal and state transportation dollars for bicycle infrastructure improvements.”

The 63-page document, available on the town’s website, would go to the Town Council for approval, pending the outcome of a public comment period, which ends on March 15, and assuming the five-member commission’s vote on Wednesday afternoon.

Specifically, the commission members were to approve a number of action items, including improved connections between the in-town bike network and the trail system outside the urban boundary, as well as regional bike routes.

The plan contained the suggestion of designating “Bicycle Boulevards” throughout town to help visitors and residents find safe routes; identifying key locations for bike racks and/or storage; requiring new developments to provide parking for bicycle commuters; and establishing a program to work with existing local business owners, commercial property owners and multi-family residential properties to install secure, functional bike racks and/or storage.

“Currently, there are only a few businesses and residences that have secure bicycle parking,” the report stated.

In another large chunk of the document, the town staff sought action items to create a “safe and comfortable cycling environment” that is accessible to cyclists of all ages.

Chief among the action items was what the town might do with Main Street, which is neither “safe” nor in any way “comfortable” for the two-wheeled set.

The town, according to the plan, should “work with Caltrans to make S.R. 203 a complete street by providing improved bicycle facilities and improved safety, including the installation of bike lanes, pavement markings, signage and crossings.”

In order to pay for such improvements, the staff indicated a number of federal and state funding options, eight of them through federal sources and five more through state-funded programs.

In addition, the plan urged the commission to consider eight local and regional funding sources, including tapping into Measure R and Measure U taxes, as well as setting requirements for new development projects, utilizing Development Impact Fees (DIF), Transient Occupancy Taxes (TOT), and establishing local assessment districts.

Taken all together, the plan is ambitious.

Then again, it is not something the town hasn’t seen before.