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City of Riverside – Land Use & Community Design Program to Address Climate Change

Case Story

Climate Action Connection: Land Use & Community Design

Planning for bicycle mobility in tandem with other land use planning provides residents the opportunity to use non-polluting forms of transportation, thus reducing vehicle miles traveled.

Community: Riverside (Riverside County)

Population: 300,000


The Riverside bicycle master plan, the result of comprehensive planning for future bicycle mobility in the city, envisions over 140 miles of new bike paths, lanes and routes to connect commuters with jobs, students with schools, and the general population with parks, shopping and regional bicycle trails.

Program Highlights

  • Riverside General Plan 2025 directs future growth around established in-town corridors, rather than urban fringe, facilitating increased bicycle mobility.
  • Bicycle master plan incorporates extensive analysis of commute times and patterns to accommodate future bicycle commuters.
  • Integration of major general plan elements and Green Riverside Action Plan with bicycle master plan.
  • Bicycle master plan includes 13 miles of new Class I bike paths, 110 miles of new Class II bike lanes, and 18 miles of new Class III bike routes.

Lessons Learned

  • Before proposing bike lane locations, undertake a thorough analysis of street conditions and their suitability to future bike lanes.
  • It’s important to educate public about roadway limitations for future bicycle lanes.

Resources to Learn More

The Rest of the Story…

Riverside adopted its first bicycle master plan in 1970. In the intervening years, bike lanes were added to most major streets and the rate of bicycling within the city grew. Riverside updated its general plan in 2007, and emphasized future growth along existing corridors and mixed-use development that is compatible with non-motorized transportation. The Riverside General Plan 2025 further identifies several streets as “parkways” that are intended to accommodate multi-modal links between the city’s 26 neighborhoods, two major industrial parks, schools and recreational facilities.

The city conducted extensive community outreach, particularly with the two local bike clubs, to determine their priorities for future bicycle travel. While two primary bike trails already exist within Riverside, bicyclists and other residents identified a need for enhanced bicycle connectivity between job centers and shopping. Within the framework of the updated general plan goals and this community input, the Riverside Bicycle Master Plan was updated in 2007 with the goal of tripling the existing 56 miles of bike lanes, paths and routes.

Bicycling For Commuting, Shopping and School

The Riverside bicycle master plan commits to planning future bike facilities not just for recreation, but for commuting and linkages with shopping and schools. To this end, the city undertook an extensive analysis of existing commute times and overlaid this information with job centers, school locations, and retail centers. As a result, the city determined that over 4,000 Riverside residents bicycle to work, school or shopping with a potential to encourage at least 6,000 residents to use their bicycle for essential travel.

The updated bicycle master plan includes 13 miles of new Class I bike paths, 110 miles of new Class II bike lanes, and 18 miles of new Class III bike routes at an expected cost of $29 million ($21 million alone for the new Class I bike paths). Since the plan was adopted, the city has already added another 20 miles of proposed Class II bike lanes, and is actively pursuing grants to make this possible.

Relationship to Other Planning Efforts

The underpinning of the city’s General Plan is a commitment that Riverside residents will have “easy access to an efficient, multi-option transportation system that enables them to meet their needs within the community.” The Riverside Bicycle Master Plan is consistent with other key elements of the city’s updated general plan, including the land use and urban design, parks and recreation, and the circulation and community mobility elements.

The city also has adopted the Green Riverside Action Plan which emphasizes planning for walkable and bikable neighborhoods, including the goal of making bicycles a key mode of transportation for everyday travel and not just for recreation.

Compiled May 2009

This case story was prepared in partnership with the California Air Resources Board.

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