We’ve gone from streetcar suburb to bike suburb

When Curtis Park was first laid out, back in the early part of the 20th century, it was a suburb. You could take the streetcar to and from downtown Sacramento, making it easy to leave your Model T in the garage. Although the concept of a carbon footprint hadn’t quite made its way into the collective jargon, people were pretty green when it came to their transportation.

Today, the case is perhaps a little different, although it doesn’t have to be. Although the recent street resurfacing in our neighborhood may leave a bit to be desired when it comes to smoothness, it has resulted in welcome additions to bike-friendliness, and hence opportunities to commute in an environmentally conscious way.

We now have bike lanes on Fifth Avenue between Crocker Drive and Franklin Boulevard (in a historic concurrence, the former route of the streetcar), Second Avenue from the underpass through Oak Park, and an upgraded bikeway on 24th Street between Second Avenue and Broadway.

If you have your own bike, then it’s an easy ride to downtown with different routes, depending on your mood. Even if you don’t have your own ride, Uber’s Jump bikes (no promotional consideration paid) make things pretty accessible, which became clear to me the other day.

I had a business appointment in San Francisco at 2 p.m.–I’m morally and financially opposed to the exorbitant parking fees downtown–so I dropped my car at the west end of Broadway at 8 a.m. and rode a Jump bike to my office at Fifth Street and Capitol Mall. I paid $1.08 to rent the bike. I found a bike right outside at 11:45 a.m., paid another $1.08 and bopped back to Broadway, dropped off the bike, hopped into my car and got right on the freeway. If you plan to ride a bike, just make sure to bring your own helmet.

On non-traveling days, you can usually see me cruising up 24th Street and hanging a left on P Street, taking advantage of the new separated bike lane. The combination of dress shoes and socks with shorts gets the occasional odd look, but after 14 years of biking, I’m used to it.

Sure, there’s the occasional swerve to avoid an errant car door, and those trashcans on the curb can be a challenge to negotiate. But the wind past my ears, the ease of running bike errands during lunch, and the time I save by not winding up nine floors of our parking garage leave those slight inconveniences in the dust.

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