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Hernandez: Time to take bikeway plan to next level
A man walks his dog along the Tidewater Bike Path near the Lathrop Road plaza. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Vince Hernandez doesn’t want to miss the opportunity to make the South County the premier bicycle friendly community in California.

The Manteca councilman would like to see some formal organization - whether it is a non-profit that is formed working with the city or a municipal committee composed of community members - to build upon what bicycle paths are in place, work to extend the network working with “our friends in Ripon and Lathrop”, encouraging more events to utilize the existing paths, and to encourage people to help adopt sections of the bike path system.

“I’m pleased that more and more people are using the paths,” Hernandez said.

And while the city has adopted a master plan for a 20.7-mile path system looping Manteca, Hernandez doesn’t believe it alone is enough to keep moving toward implementation. To do so, he believes will take forming an advocacy group or municipal citizens committee to make sure long range planning isn’t forgotten and to advocate for enhancements and to help secure volunteers for such work.

Hernandez noted -as Mayor Willie Weatherford did two years ago - that a bike path segment should have been developed along Daniels Street at the city-owned Big League Dreams sports complex with the idea of connecting it to the bike path eventually planned to the west along a drainage canal and McKinley Avenue. There were no advocates for such an extension when plans for BLD were being advanced.

Such a group would not only stay on top of making sure obvious extensions of the bike path system are put in place such as to the family entertainment zone planned on 100 acres immediately west of BLD, but elsewhere as well.

Hernandez said he doesn’t want the concept of a separated bike path west of the railroad tracks between Manteca and Ripon to be forgotten as the Austin Road Business Park moves forward. Both cities years ago agreed in concept to a 100-foot-wide green belt - perhaps lined with almond trees that would include a separated bike path.

Such a path, Hernandez noted, could be used for casual recreation or commuting as well as for organized sporting events such as part of fun runs, half marathons and even bicycle racings to further rebuild Manteca’s growing status as the Northern San Joaquin Valley Mecca for amateur sports and recreation sports.

Hernandez also would like to see Manteca connect its bike path system with Lathrop’s to allow residents of all three South County cities access to each other.

Work was completed late last year on a segment of the Atherton Avenue separated bike path between Van Ryn Road and Woodward Avenue that would eventually be extended to the south and into Ripon.

Other segments in place include:

•The 3.4-mile Tidewater running from Lathrop Road to Moffat Boulevard through the heart of Manteca.

•The Spreckels Avenue spur.

•The segment passing through Del Webb at Woodbridge between Airport Way and Union Road.

•Short segments along Atherton Drive on either side of Airport Way.

•A section in front of The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley.

•A leg along Wellington Avenue between Woodward Avenue and Atherton Drive.

•A connector between the Tidewater and Atherton Drive along Van Ryn Drive and Industrial Park Drive.

When developers of Union Ranch east of Del Webb get to a future phase, they will put in place the missing segment between Union Road and Lathrop Road.

When that is in place you will be able to use separated bike paths to go from the western edge of Del Webb at Airport Way all the way to Woodward Park by using  nearly six miles of separated bike path that would require crossing just 13 streets.

At the same time the separated bike path system is moving forward, Hernandez said it is important to seize any opportunity to expand separated bicycle lanes where possible in developed parts of town to make it easier to connect with the bike path system as well as to reach other points in Manteca via bicycling.

The adopted municipal bicycle plan, when fully implemented, will provide Manteca with 98.5 miles of bicycle routes including 20.7 miles of separated, landscaped bicycle routes such as found along Spreckels Avenue.