The three-month closure of a section of Freeport Boulevard has some bicyclists up in arms.
While automobile traffic can use I-5 as a detour to get into the community of Freeport and on into delta wine country across the Freeport Bridge, bicyclists are being shut out.
Bike riders can’t go on the interstate and the nearest alternate route would take them down Franklin Boulevard to Hood-Franklin Road and back up the river road.
“The nearest route for a bicycle to get to the Freeport Bridge is a 16 mile trip,” lamented Jim Brown, executive director of the Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates.
The 1/4 mile section of Freeport Boulevard is part of a route that takes weekend and recreational riders across the Sacramento River into wine country. In addition it’s part of a twice-a-week training ride that takes dozens of riders in a loop through Freeport, across the river, and back north through West Sacramento.
Street rider Greg Roh has been riding Freeport Boulevard and the river for 20 years. He took an unauthorized detour on top of the levee adjacent to the closed road. He said the loose dirt and gravel was a bit sketchy for a cyclist on skinny tires. He said the lack of a bike detour hurts tourism as well as those bicycle commuters.
“It really creates at the minimum a nuisance, but at the maximum it can create a big inconvenience for the people here in Sacramento,” Roh said.
A water line is being installed in three phases directly under the 24-foot-wide roadway near the Bill Conlin Sport Complex.
“It’s unfortunate, but having an open trench is just too dangerous for bicycle riders,” said city spokesperson Linda Tucker.
Tucker said the city purposely delayed to project until after May, which was declared Bicycle Month in the city.
Tucker said traffic staff is still trying to find alternate routes for later stages of construction, perhaps cutting down bicycle closures from 90 to 30 days.
“The fact that they’re doing this now, after the project starts, tells me maybe they didn’t give this enough thought,” Brown said.
Zach Waddle, owner of The Bicycle Business on Freeport Boulevard is sponsoring a major ride into Clarksburg in the Delta this Saturday. He had to re-route the ride because of the road closure.
“I wish the city would have done some pre-planning … It’s cars first and bikes and pedestrians on the back burner,” Waddle said.
City officials continue to look for solutions that will keep cyclists safe. Among the most recent proposals, using flagmen to control bike traffic through the construction zone and allowing bicyclists passage through the construction area after 3 p.m. when work has stopped for the day.