Our Views: A lot to like about new bike areas in downtown Modesto

02/28/2014 6:02 PM

02/28/2014 9:37 PM

CHEERS FOR BIKE CORRALS: Modesto is following the lead of bike-friendly San Francisco and Portland in creating on-street parking areas for cyclists. The first bicycle corral was installed at 11th and J streets downtown in front of Preservation Coffee and Tea.

The bicycle corral didn’t replace any vehicle parking, as it was built in a red zone. The Urban Design Group of the Downtown Modesto Partnership, a collaboration of a broad section of representatives trying to improve downtown, coordinated with the coffee shop to verify support.

“That coffee shop has been a hot spot for cyclists,” said Josh Bridegroom, with Modesto’s Community and Economic Development Department.

There’s a lot to like about the bike racks, including the cost. The city purchased the racks 10 or 15 years ago, according to Bridegroom, and they’ve been sitting in storage since. The green paint was surplus, and the bike with instructions that’s permanently tethered to the rack was donated, he said. White paint was the only purchase. Volunteers did the rest.

The rack holds six bikes.

A bike-friendly downtown would reduce vehicle traffic, and thus cut emissions. More important, more bike traffic should boost foot traffic as people slow down to enjoy the sights and sounds around them. It all fits with creating an urban feel.

“Restaurants have expressed an interest in seeing these go up,” said Bridegroom. “ ‘That would be really cool. I’d like that at my place,’ ” is the feedback he’s received. They may get their wish. Bridegroom said there are more corrals in storage, and sights are on a long-term master plan for J Street.

JEERS FOR MOTHER NATURE: The gorgeous weather this winter, though thoroughly enjoyed, has lulled us into not quite coming to terms with the dire drought conditions until so late in the rain season.

The 0.77 inch of rain that fell by Friday afternoon, bringing the season rain total to 3.58 inches, is welcome but far from what’s needed. Normal season to date rainfall is 8.66 inches.

Reservoirs levels are down, as are allotments to irrigation districts. The 20-inch water cap in the Turlock Irrigation District and the 18-inch limit in the Modesto Irrigation District are about half of normal deliveries. Rain and snow would have to fall heavily every other day from now to May to get reservoir levels to where they need to be, Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jeremy Rahn told the Merced Sun-Star earlier this week.

Modesto will be including an insert with tips on reducing water use in the March utility bills. But don’t wait to be prompted. Fix that leaky faucet, turn down the timer on the lawn sprinklers, take shorter showers, don’t keep the faucet running unnecessarily while doing dishes.

Let’s hope Mother Nature showers us with more love before the rain season ends June 30. Most rain, though, tends to fall from December to March.

CHEERS TO “WORLD’S SUPERB VIEW”: The Japanese travel show taped part of an episode in Modesto for all the right reasons. “Modesto is a family town and also a farming town, so we thought it was very interesting,” production coordinator Yakiko Ide told The Bee’s Erin Tracy. “Japan is big on agriculture as well, but here, you guys do it on a grand scale.”

TIP OF THE HAT: Standing on the University of the Pacific’s campus in Stockton for more than 63 years, Stagg Stadium soon will soon come down. Hence, this is a good time to remember how it went up. Beginning in 1945, a group of Oakdale High football players enrolled at then-College of the Pacific and helped build the nucleus of some of the school’s best football teams. Among them were Bruce Orvis, Dick Briein, Art Brown, a talented little quarterback named Eddie LeBaron, Bob Moser and Ray Banducci. LeBaron went on to play for the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys in the NFL; Moser for the Chicago Bears. They played an exciting brand of football that compelled the school to build 40,000-seat Pacific Memorial Stadium, which opened in 1950, the year after LeBaron graduated. Later renamed Stagg Stadium, it replaced another respected on-campus venue: Baxter Field, which in 1957 hosted the first sub-four-minute mile on American soil. Here’s hoping the athletic venues replacing the stadium generate their own memories.

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