The wheels are turning to improve cycling conditions in Napa.
The Napa City Council appropriated grant money this week to purchase and install more bike racks and lockers downtown and to add bike lanes to Lincoln Avenue between Jefferson Street and the Napa Valley Wine Train tracks.
“It’s a good way to provide additional support for bikers in our town,” said Helena Allison, an associate civil engineer for the city.
The Class II bike lanes — lanes on the street specially marked for two-wheel transport — are an attempt to help students get to school more safely, Allison said. Napa High is just a block away from Lincoln at Jefferson.
The new bike lanes on Lincoln will connect to a bike trail that runs at a diagonal through the city along Wine Train tracks.
Lou Penning, president of the Napa County Bicycle Coalition, said there is a need for bike lanes around schools. He hopes as more become available, more students will cycle to school, get healthy in the process and minimize before- and after-school traffic that only seems to be growing.
“The amount of traffic (citywide) is increasing at a higher rate than the population,”
Penning said. “The bike coalition is trying to reverse that trend and work on those busy intersections that aren’t safe.”
Napa has a ways to go to become a bike town, but this is progress, Penning said. Current bike paths are used an “awful lot,” he said.
Allison said the lanes, which are being designed by city staff and could go out to bid in the spring, will not affect on-street parking.
“Class II bike lanes are usually between the travel way and parking, and the travel lane and sidewalk in places where there is no parking,” she said.
In addition to striping the road for bike lanes, the city will also lay an underground electrical system that should connect nearby traffic signals with one another.
“We’re hoping that will improve our being able to coordinate the signals,” Allison said.
The entire Lincoln Avenue bike lanes project is budgeted to cost about $361,000, using grant money from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, gas tax revenue and state Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funds, according to a staff report.
The bike racks and bike lockers will be paid for through a Transportation Fund for Clean Air grant, also from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, according to the staff report. The $10,443 grant will buy approximately 30 bike racks of varying types and two bike lockers, Allison said.
Some of the racks will be custom-made to match the U-shaped racks with grape leaves that were installed downtown in recent months, also using grant money.
They will likely be placed outside businesses that have requested them, Allison said.
Penning said bike lockers, which can be used by people storing their bikes overnight or when it’s raining, fill up fast but are useful to those who claim them.
“They reduce one more obstacle when the building manager says you can’t bring your bike into the building,” he said.
The racks should be installed over the next year or so, Allison said.