Category Archives: Parks

Dowtown Cycling Circut Drawn

 

By DUG BEGLEY
The Press-Enterprise

Video: Riverside exploring ‘downtown loop’ for cyclists, walkers

Two abandoned railroad bridges strewn with trash might be the missing links in a plan to circle downtown Riverside with bicycle paths, proponents of the trails said.

Standing on one of the bridges that spans University Avenue, two blocks east of Vine Street, Jane Block said the 30-year effort to bring a bike loop to downtown is nearing completion.

“This is as close as we’ve ever come,” Block said.

Mark Zaleski / The Press-Enterprise
Local activist Jane Block, top, has pursued development of a downtown Riverside bike path that would run along the 8th Street railroad bridge.

The plans don’t stop at the two bridges. Block, working with Riverside Councilman Mike Gardner and others, has devised a route using some existing bike lanes on city streets, little-used city alleys and paths through neighborhood parks to cobble together a loop.

Though she said it is subject to change depending on engineering, cost and available land, Block said the proposed path would allow cyclists and joggers to travel around most of the city’s downtown, from Fairmount Park to the Riverside City College campus and as far east as Kansas Avenue.

Linking places where people might want to bike has numerous benefits, Block said. It encourages cycling, which can improve the health of a community, she noted. It also gives downtown residents a safe recreation route between city parks and helps meet goals of reducing traffic congestion in Riverside.

“This is all doable,” Gardner said on a recent tour.

Safety First

Bicyclists eager to hit the roads don’t have to wait for the loop, Gardner said. Magnolia Avenue and many other city streets have bike lanes.

What’s different about the proposed loop, Block said, is it allows for greater separation from cars and trucks — and with the two bridges allows cyclists not to compete with cross-traffic. The route would also add a continuous path for cyclists that the city could denote with signs.

“We want to have Class A bikeways,” Block said, meaning cyclists have enough space to ride along the side of vehicles, and not worry when someone opens a door on a parked car.

“It is not very safe to have parking and bike lanes,” Gardner said, explaining how putting cyclists close to parked cars put added pressures on both riders and drivers. “So if you have bike lanes, maybe you don’t have parking.”

He said city planners are examining the proposed bike path but no decisions about removing on-street parking has been made.

Early drafts have the route going from Fairmount Park along Spruce Street, then southwest along a route on or near Kansas Avenue.

From there, provided the city can acquire some right of way from the railroads, cyclists could ride across Mission Inn Avenue, University Avenue and Fourteenth Street, then cruise down Commerce Street. The loop would then go around or through the Riverside City College campus and across Brockton Avenue.

Gardner said the final pieces include a trail through the planned Tequesquite Park and a connection to the Santa Ana River Trail, which runs along the west of the park.

Because much of the route relies on streets, Gardner said the cost isn’t daunting.

“It’s more planning than it is cost,” he said. “It’s restriping some places and putting in some trails through Tequesquite Park.”

Nationally studies suggest adding bike lanes costs about $5,000 per mile, according to the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials.

If officials can chart a course for the loop and acquire small tracts to connect the sections, Gardner said much of the trail could be in place by spring.

Block said path supporters will consider outside fundraising if needed.

“I have learned that if you have an idea and it is a good idea,” Block said, “you don’t hesitate to execute it because of money.”

Work and Play

Cyclists said a loop around downtown Riverside would be a welcome addition, both for recreation and commuting.

Drew Scott, 26, already commutes from Colton to Riverside along the Santa Ana River Trail, a 120-mile bike path from San Bernardino to Orange County.

Block said the Santa Ana River Trail, which connects Highland at the foot of the San Bernardino Mountains to Huntington Beach along the Pacific Ocean, is “the freeway” for cyclists interested in longer rides or inter-city commutes.

What’s missing, she said, is the local link to shops, restaurants, schools and workplaces.

Adding a downtown route that’s safer would make it much easier, he said.

“It’s not me I’m worried about,” Scott said. “It’s the cars. Some people act like the bike lanes aren’t there.”

The loop also links three key places that officials would like to connect for safe bicycling, Gardner said. When built, the path will allow someone to ride from the UC Riverside campus to the city college campus and downtown seamlessly.

Alternative ways to travel to the city college campus south of downtown are important, said Edward Bush, vice president of student services at RCC’s Riverside campus. Construction of two buildings decreased the number of parking spaces on campus, Bush said.

But putting a trail across the campus, as some loop supporters have suggested, might not be likely.

“At first blush, that would be somewhat difficult,” Bush said. “Students are allowed to ride their bikes to the bike racks but cannot ride around campus because of pedestrian safety.”

A dedicated route might be different, Bush said, but charting through a maze of sidewalks and small access streets could be tough.

But Bush stressed that the college is interested in hearing loop proposals. The city’s bicycle advisory council, formed last year, has members with ties to the college, Bush said.

Scott said Inland cities have made progress in encouraging cycling by putting bike trails in parks and adding bike lanes to streets.

“I see people riding on them all the time,” he said.

Santa Ana River Trail Closing Gaps

By JANET ZIMMERMAN
The Press-Enterprise

Design and partial construction of the most complicated section of the Santa Ana River Trail and Parkway — a 25-mile gap from Norco past Prado Dam — can proceed with $5.2 million in grants from the state, officials said Monday.

The 100-mile recreational trail from the San Bernardino Mountains to the Pacific Ocean has been in the works more than 50 years. All but three miles of trail through Orange County are complete, but work remains on the Riverside County stretch and 14 miles in San Bernardino County.

“This mountain-to-the-sea trail might be finished in my lifetime where I can actually enjoy it,” said Chris Van Matre, a Riverside Bicycle Club member and frequent trail user. “I can’t tell you how excited I am by that.”

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As it is, she and other riders must use city streets in Norco and Corona. The paved trail picks up just over the Orange County line.

“It’s going to be a lot safer” for recreational trail users and bicyclists who commute to work between Riverside and Orange County, she said.

The grant awarded Thursday by the California Coastal Conservancy will be used for trail design, construction drawings and some of the work that will begin next year, said Patricia Lock-Dawson, a consultant for the trail Policy Advisory Committee, made up of 14 cities, counties, a land conservancy group and the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority.

The work covers 22 miles in western Riverside County and three miles in Orange County west of Green River Road. The project is expected to be completed by 2015.

“It’s been the Holy Grail of this whole effort. It’s a horrendously complicated section, through Prado Basin, over the dam, under the 71 freeway and through some beautiful, undisturbed riparian habitats,” Lock-Dawson said.

That section of trail, known as the “pinch point,” is the last to be developed for several reasons, including the complex physical borders and the number of agencies that have jurisdiction over the land, she said. Officials have dealt with the raising of Prado Dam for flood protection, the changing course of the river over the last several years, railroad tracks and endangered birds living along the shores.

In 2006, the trail advisory committee was formed to secure funding and push through completion. The latest development “shows the importance of partnerships … and the continued need for investment for recreational infrastructure,” said Riverside County Supervisor John Tavaglione, whose district includes the area.

Also in 2006, California voters approved Prop. 84, the bond act funding the trail improvements.

The trail will give children safe access to the outdoors, said David Myers, executive director of the Wildlands Conservancy, a group that funds land preservation throughout California.

His group donated $3 million in private money for completion of the trail, which will connect to the San Bernardino and Cleveland national forests, state parks and dozens of city and county parks where people can fish and swim, he said.

“It’s a key to nature for inner-city kids,” Myers said. “It reminds me a lot of the way so many of us grew up as kids. We went down to waterways and caught frogs and crayfish and spent the summer in short pants with our shirts off. Hopefully it will mean the same to kids for generations to come.”

Reach Janet Zimmerman at 951-368-9586 or jzimmerman@PE.com

Northside Meeting Save Soccer Fields

COMMUNITY

INTEREST

MEETING

The north Riverside community invites you to an interest and orientation group about the future of the Riverside Golf Course.
Wed. March 2, 2011
6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

RUTH LEWIS COMMUNITY CENTER

REID PARK 701 N.ORANGE ST. 92501

www.facebook.com/NorthsideImprovementAssociation

UCR Neighbors Want Community Center

Our collective voices are being heard in larger circles. 

10:55 PM PDT on Sunday, April 11, 2010

By ALICIA ROBINSON
The Press-Enterprise

Residents in Riverside’s University neighborhood have long been asking for a community center of their own, and while there’s no money to build one now, the city will start looking at where and what to build.

City parks officials also will explore ways to expand recreational options in the meantime, such as giving residents more access to Islander Park and putting in a playground, city Parks Director Ralph Nuñez said.

The park, which includes a swimming pool and a grassy lot, is now fenced off and often closed. Nuñez said fences could be moved to create a small park that would be open more regularly.

But a full-scale community center is what residents living near the UC Riverside campus ultimately want, said Gurumantra Khalsa, who represents the area on the Riverside Neighborhood Partnership board.

The issue has been discussed in earnest since last summer when community leaders polled people who came to a “National Night Out” event. University-area residents noticed new centers opened recently in Orangecrest and La Sierra.

“It’s wanted and it’s needed, and residents kind of made that clear,” Khalsa said. “We’re an old neighborhood and we don’t have anything.”

The University area may have been passed over for a community center because its population is smaller than Orangecrest, for example, said Councilman Mike Gardner, whose Ward 1 includes part of the neighborhood. The University area overlaps wards 1 and 2, which have four community centers between them.

Gardner said there’s also a perception that residents have access to all UCR’s amenities, though that’s not the case for people who don’t attend school or work there.

Nuñez said possible sites for a community center include Islander Park, Highland Park and the undeveloped Mount Vernon park site, though each has limitations. Using about $10,000 saved on work at Bobby Bonds Park, this summer officials will begin evaluating the three sites and studying what features people want in a community center.

Khalsa said a lot could be done with existing recreation resources, but for now he’s just happy the city is looking at the issue.

“The fact that there’s actually a conversation going on is an extremely positive step,” he said.