Cycling in Fresno? City, Fresno State Consider a Bicycle Sharing Plan
For a city rather pedestrian unfriendly, Fresno does decently when it comes to bicycling. More streets than expected have bicycle lanes, and many of the city’s main thoroughfares, with the exception of Shaw, Blackstone and Herndon, are wide enough for cycling—and the savvy commuter can sail through the city if he or she knows the lay of the land. Bicycling in Fresno is also a healthier way to get around town, even during the summer as at least the heat does not come paired with humidity.
Now the Fresno Bee reports the city of Fresno is considering a bicycle sharing program, similar in concept to what has succeeded well in New York, Washington, DC and even Detroit. Fresno State and city officials are working on an application for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities. The plan would focus on Fresno State, which is a natural setting for cycling and is host to 23,000 students and 2,000 staff members when school is in session. As the Bee also points out, 20 percent of the families who live in the neighborhood surrounding the massive campus also lack a car. The system could work for residents who need to run errands as well as students who have to hustle so they are not late to class.
Whether such a cycling plan would succeed creates a huge question mark. A successful application would not result in funds, but technical assistance from EPA officials. The city and university would have to find a way to create a program—a tall task in a city overall that is hostile to anything smacking of smart cities, sustainability and creative ideas to deal with public transportation. While cities such as Cleveland, Baltimore, and again, even Detroit, are showing signs of renewal thanks to urbanization, Fresno’s leaders, with the exception of its mayor, are dragging their feet. Just note the temper tantrum thrown by Steve Brandau, perhaps the most marginal politician in America who recently slammed the city’s 2035 general plan.
Nevertheless, the San Joaquin Valley has one of the worst air pollution problems in the U.S., and younger generation of students are not married to the idea of car ownership’s financial shackles. If this project can find sponsors and a price point that Fresno State’s employees and students can afford, an emphasis on cycling in Fresno it could be a step towards bringing the city into the 21st century. Fresno has the potential to do big things (i.e. Olympics); all it needs are leaders who believe in the potential of the fifth largest city in California.
Image credit: Leon Kaye