Riding High

Andrea Renny, associate civil engineer with the city of Monterey, displays plans to make North Fremont Street more pedestrian-friendly.

With few bike lanes in the city of Monterey, and some drivers not used to sharing the road with bike commuters, it can be difficult for people looking to ditch their cars and employ a carbon-neutral, heart-friendly means of transportation. But that may be changing as the city has received more than $7 million in grants to make its roadways safer for both cyclists and pedestrians.

“We’re trying to be really proactive,” says Andrea Renny, associate civil engineer with the city of Monterey. “We’ve had a bike plan since before it became popular.”

Micah Mozal, owner of Peninsula Bike Works in Monterey and a bike commuter for 15 years before he started to take his rescue greyhound to work, says most people he runs into only use the Monterey Bay Coastal Bike Path if they need to commute because of the lack of marked bicycle routes in town.

“If you make it pleasant and practical, more and more people will start commuting by bike,” Mozal says.

The city of Monterey is now working on engineering and educational solutions to make the streets friendlier to bikes and get more people out of their cars.

On the engineering side, the city received a $6.5 million grant in 2014 from Caltrans’ Active Transportation Program to build bike lanes on North Fremont Street and make intersections pedestrian-friendly and compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Renny says. The project is expected to start in early 2017 and finish within the year.

The city was awarded another $495,000 grant in October for transportation demand management, again from the Active Transportation Program. The grant will help the city reduce congestion by working with employers to stagger start times and encourage workers to walk, ride their bikes and use public transportation, Renny says.

The city’s Neighborhood Improvement Programs is slated to build new bike boulevards in coming years.

On the education side, the city of Monterey received a $110,000 grant this year from the California Office of Transportation and Safety that will create two part-time positions and will allow the city to supply safety equipment and educational material to promote bike and pedestrian safety.

The public awareness campaign might help drivers heed the “Give Me 3” law that Gov. Jerry Brown signed in 2013, requiring motorists to give people on bikes at least 3 feet of space as they drive by.

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