August 12, 2019
City officials in Rancho Mirage are working to keep cyclists safer while improving the quality of local thoroughfares and sidewalks.
City officials hired AECOM, a traffic consultant, to develop a best practices plan for improving Rancho Mirage’s network of bicycle lanes, sidewalks and cart paths.
The 40-page plan was presented in July to the Rancho Mirage City Council. The city has $400,000 to finance network improvements in the coming fiscal year, according to the Desert Sun.
The city currently has about 32 miles of bike lanes. The AECOM plan examined where these lanes are placed, where new lanes could most effectively be placed and any right of way issues that may exist.
The plan also outlines other improvements, including new signage and striping at busy intersections.
Rancho Mirage will begin by addressing issues at the intersections where most collisions occur, and work to deter cyclists from Highway 111.
In addition to street and intersection improvements, the plan also details improvements on sidewalks, crosswalks and local cart paths.
The proposed network improvements are a response to rising numbers of cyclists on local roads. Rancho Mirage, and other communities in California’s Coachella Valley, have seen sustained increases in local cycling traffic. One local cycling group that worked with the city on its plan — the Desert Bicycle Club — has reported a 50% increase in membership numbers in the last five years.
City officials were also motivated by changing attitudes. Residents in local communities are seeking more opportunities to work, dine, shop and enjoy recreation without having to drive a car or hail a ridesharing service. This has created a need for more pedestrian and cycling lanes within mixed development communities.
In addition to the $400,000 earmarked for improvements, Rancho Mirage city officials have said that additional state and federal money may be available to finance cycling-friendly projects.
There were 783 bicyclists killed in the US in 2017 and 840 killed in 2016. These numbers represent a significant increase over numbers from a little more than a decade ago (in 2007, for example, 701 cyclists were killed).
In Rancho Mirage, four cyclists have already been killed in 2019, along with 12 pedestrians. This means that 2019 is on track to be one of the city’s deadliest years in terms of pedestrian safety.
Given the rising number of cyclists on roads and pedestrians on streets, road improvements are essential for helping mitigate the safety risks to walkers, joggers and riders.
No road network will ever be entirely safe for pedestrians and cyclists. If you’ve been injured in a cycling accident, it’s imperative that you protect your rights by contacting an experienced attorney.