Atascadero plans path for bicycle-friendly future

Specialized cycling lanes and signs along Highway 41, as well as efforts to help youngsters bike to school, could come to Atascadero in the next five years, according to the city’s new bicycle transportation plan.

The City Council last week adopted a guide on what to add, improve and change to roadways to make the city more bicycle friendly.

It is to serve as a blueprint for developing a bike system within the city, as well as to and from neighboring cities, by establishing guidelines along with short- and long-term goals.

Cycling improvements to El Camino Real are among the projects on the short-term list.

Short-term projects are considered priority and could be pursued immediately as they are likely to receive grant funding, according to the plan. They could occur in one to five years.

The long-term list includes an Atascadero Lake loop trail, pathways along Atascadero Creek, and a multiuse nonvehicular bridge over Salinas River on Curbaril Avenue from Sycamore to Rocky Canyon roads.

Long-term projects are often associated with community expansion and future connections, and require more regional funding coordination, according to the plan. They could occur within one to 10 years.

The overall goal of the plan, according to the city, is to make cycling a safe and convenient alternative to driving.

The plan’s policies are designed to help the city increase bicycling safety, relieve traffic congestion, attract tourists and encourage healthy transportation choices.

Improving safety for cyclists “is the single most effective way to encourage people to use bicycles for transportation and recreation,” city staff said.

The 43-page document would also allow the city to compete for state, federal and regional grant money as it becomes available.

Because it doesn’t have an adopted bike plan, the city recently missed out on millions of dollars allocated to cities statewide to provide improvements to infrastructure.

The Atascadero Parks and Recreation Commission, the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments, the San Luis Obispo County Bicycle Coalition and local citizens helped to shape the plan.

In May, a public workshop was held to better understand the current demand for such a vision. Officials said it was well received.

Reach Tonya Strickland at 781-7858. Stay updated by following @tstrickland on Twitter.

Atascadero Bicycle Transportation Plan