The City of Turlock Gears Up for Active Transportation!

Turlock is a rural city of about 70,000 residents in California’s Central Valley. The temperate climate and short rainy season make walking and bicycling an attractive option for much of the year. Most destinations in Turlock are within reach by bicycle — the town is roughly a square about 5 miles across. Its gridded street system makes it easy for people to navigate, including visitors, and provides many route choices. However, like many rural communities designed for the car, it has a lot of wide and high-speed arterial roadways.

Alta Planning + Design was tasked with creating the city’s first strategic plan in January 2014. Over the past year, we’ve produced a wide range of documents and tools, all hosted on the publicly accessible BikeWalkTurlock website:

  • Working Paper 1: Existing Conditions, which includes the results of a public survey in English and Spanish (n=168) and bike/ped counts at 15 intersections (peak hour cumulative volume: 762 pedestrians, 217 bicyclists)
  • Bicycle and Pedestrian Friendly Turlock Guide (focused on programs and outreach)
  • Bicycle rodeos at four schools attracting nearly 70 students
  • A Safe Routes to School Report including the results of audits and route mapping for 13 schools
  • A customized Design Toolkit based on meetings with city staff to develop shared understanding of the recent Caltrans “flexibility in design” guidance and local conditions

One of our greatest advocates is a family of four who do not own a car and instead ride their Dutch bikes everywhere. They’ve distributed surveys, compiled responses, led the bicycle and pedestrian counts, come to every meeting, roped neighbors into action, and generally taken an incredibly proactive stance.

Car-free family and their “Box” bike rolling down one of Turlock’s wide streets.
Turlock’s Active Transportation Plan includes a Safe Routes to School Plan intended to help reduce congestion at the school gate.

The planning process identified ten high priority projects for implementation in the next one to five years. City staff and community members have really gotten behind the idea of constructing a loop path around the pond in Donnelly Park, and the hope is to have this project started at the same time as the adoption of the Active Transportation Plan later this spring.

Take a look through the public website and see how we roll in rural California!