End The Confusion

City’s river parkway must move forward

By Kendra Ramsey
February 2024

The Sacramento River Parkway is a crucial route for many residents who get to work by bike and an important resource for recreation. It’s a transportation facility of regional significance.

The parkway provides 65 miles of off-road riverfront paths when combined with the American River Parkway, plus dozens of additional miles of off-road bicycling and walking paths that connect many neighborhoods to our rivers.

As a native Sacramentan and frequent user of our river parkways, I’ve learned to navigate the complicated and confusing on-road connections between completed segments of the Sacramento River Parkway.

Recently, as I was strapping on my helmet at a Land Park coffee shop, a resident asked about access to the Sacramento River Parkway. He’d tried without success to find it.

The river trail shouldn’t be confusing or difficult to access. It’s a civic treasure. Getting more people on bikes demands a convenient network. Just as we have for cars.

The Sacramento River Parkway Project, the most recent phase of a 50-year effort to complete the Sacramento River Parkway, will close a gap through Pocket between Zacharias and Garcia Bend parks, extending this essential public amenity and eliminating confusion.

However, divided control of the levee top is creating literal roadblocks for the bike trail. Some route-completion areas cross private property under the jurisdiction of the Central Valley Flood Protection Board.

Instead of working together to prepare the ground for the parkway completion, the flood board has actively worked against the completion of this transportation route. The board has approved permits for residents to build fences across the parkway.

The city of Sacramento needs to close this gap in the bikeway, which provides an off-road route safe for people of all ages to ride, roll and stroll on.

Active mobility is essential as California’s climate crisis deepens. The city should move quickly to build out this project.

Completing the Pocket segment of the Sacramento River Parkway involves working with property owners to secure rights of way. In some cases, eminent domain may be needed.

But first, the city needs the flood board to deny future fences and support the construction of the river parkway project.

Safe, connected bike networks are among the best ways to encourage people to choose bicycling as their mode of transportation to work, school and errands.

Sometimes creating connections involves hard work and tough choices. But, as we’ve seen in cities such as Paris, Copenhagen and Vienna, creating connected bikeway networks can significantly reduce car trips, improve air quality and enhance health.

Sacramento has a long way to go before we become a city where people in every neighborhood can easily choose a bicycle as a primary mode of transportation. Completing the Sacramento River Parkway is a critical step in the right direction.

The city should do everything it can to move the project forward. Climate change won’t wait.

Kendra Ramsey is executive director of the California Bicycle Coalition, which advocates for equitable, inclusive and prosperous communities where bicycling helps enable all Californians to lead healthy and joyful lives. She can be reached at info@calbike.org.

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