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Our View: City must gear up for more bicycle-riding residents

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The greater Auburn area is a community dedicated to the outdoors and a healthy lifestyle. Running, biking, riding, skiing, rafting and more opportunities abound nearby. But now, thanks to escalating gas prices, more of us are starting to look at one of these healthful activities as a way to save on the bottom line. Bicycling is taking a bigger role in many people’s lives. Locally, merchants have seen an increase in bike sales as fuel prices climb. However, riding around Auburn isn’t exactly the safest plan for those who want an alternative mode of transportation to work. While recreational riding opportunities are ample, bike lanes and bike-friendly areas still leave much to be desired. In a community where outdoor recreation is a calling card for the city, planners need to come together to implement a comprehensive long-term approach that makes this area more bicycle friendly for everyone. We don’t need to look far to see how neighboring cities rightfully handle this alternative mode of transportation. The city of Davis is awash in spokes and pedals with plenty of bikes lanes and bicycle parking areas. By allowing for more bike lanes and the ability to park bicycles in areas of commerce, this plays right into the motto of Endurance Capital of the World. Not only do community members save money, they improve their health and reduce their carbon footprint by keeping their vehicles in the garage. While Auburn might not be ready to become the next Davis, it does have a cycling presence, from mountain bike races to this weekend’s World’s Toughest Half Triathlon, which will have cyclists scattered throughout the area. As the price for crude oil continues to climb, so will gas prices, and with that many will find new modes of transportation. We’re already seeing increases in mass-transit programs, and it’s just a matter of time before alternative practices like biking gain even more momentum. Any plans for future development in the area should be bicycle and pedestrian friendly. And existing infrastructure must be scrutinized to see how walking and bicycling can be further encouraged. That’s the right thing to do for our health and for our pocketbooks. So if you’re out and about this weekend in your vehicle, keep an eye out for your fellow bicyclist. They deserve our cooperation and respect on the roadways.