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SJ County pursuing $43.9M bike plan
Separated bicycle paths such as the Tidewater in Manteca are a small part of the San Joaquin County bicycle plan. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Making the rural areas of San Joaquin County bicycle friendly for recreational use as well as commuting will primarily involve making roadways wider to accommodate bicycle lanes on the paved shoulder.

A bicycle master plan designed to serve as the blueprint for San Joaquin County staff to move forward with bicycling enhancements as development occurs is up for approval tonight at 6:30 p.m. That’s when the San Joaquin County Planning Commission will consider approving the update on the 2002 bicycle master plan when they meet at the Public Health/Planning Auditorium at 1601 East Hazelton Ave. in Stockton.

The proposed blueprint would cost an estimated $43.9 million to fully implement.

That consists primarily of the cost of widening a number of existing county roads to have a four-foot-wide shoulder and signage to accommodate bicycles with bike route signage as Class III bicycle routes. The cost figure also includes dedicated bicycle lanes for Class II routes along some county roads and a few Class I bicycle routes that are separate from streets. Other elements of the proposed San Joaquin Bicycle Master Plan Update includes improving signage, upgrading traffic signals, as well as establishing a bicycle advisory committee.

Part of the money needed to implement the bicycle master plan would come from an estimated $7.6 million being collected over the next 20 years in Measure K sales tax that has specifically been dedicated to bicycle project.

San Joaquin County currently has 18.9 miles of bike lanes and bike routes. The plan calls for having 4.13 miles of Class I routes, 5.63 miles of Class II routes, and 268.08 miles of Class III routes.

Among those elements in the master plan involving the rural area surrounding Manteca, Ripon, Lathrop and French Camp are:

•Widening the shoulder of Airport Way between Durham Ferry Road and West Ripon Road south of Manteca. In addition to a four-foot-wide shoulder there would be signs noting that it is a bike route. Airport Way from Durham Ferry Road to the City of Stockton - some 12.68 miles - would ultimately be designated as a Class III bike lane after improvements are made.

•Upgrading the bike route along Austin Road from French Camp Road to Lathrop Road and then extending it south to Highway 120 by adding four-foot-wide shoulders.

•French Camp Road from El Dorado Street to East Highway 120 would have shoulders widen to four feet and designated as a bicycle route for a distance of 10.17 miles.

•Widening shoulders to four feet with bike route signage on River Road from Murphy Road east to Santa Fe Road for 8.44 miles.

•Widening shoulders to four feet with bike route signs on Jack Tone Road from Ripon to the Jack Tone Road Bypass in Lockeford for 27.17 miles.

•Widening shoulders on Lathrop Road from Highway 99 to Austin Road for 1.75 miles and installing bicycle route signage.

•Widening shoulders on Manthey Road south and north of Lathrop with bicycle route signs.

•Widening shoulders on Santa Fe Road and add bicycle route signs between Escalon and Stanislaus County line.

The plan also recommends working with Caltrans to designate East Highway 120 from Manteca to Escalon as a bike route with four-foot-wide shoulders for a distance of 8.11 miles.

Other recommendations include:

•Having bicycle route signs that also provide signage on directions to cities as well as distances.

•Placing share the road signs attached to the universal bicycle sign on narrow county roads where appropriate as well as at approaches to all county bridges.

•Require all future traffic detection loops at signals to be triggered by bicycles plus readjust existing detection loops.

•Forming a bicycle advisory committee.

•Hiring a part-time or full-time bicycle program coordinator.

The routes as defined are:

•Class I: Separate bicycle paths away from traffic lanes.

•Class II: Separate bicycle lane along existing streets.

•Class III: Roads designed with four-foot-wide shoulders with bicycle route signage.