By Devin Fehely

FREMONT (KPIX 5) — The city of Fremont is about to embark on an ambitious and expansive plan to transform its streets and make them safer for bicyclists.

The City Council recently approved plans to add 17 miles of brand-new dedicated bike lanes across the city. Previously, the city tried to time the construction of new bike lanes to coincide with scheduled road repairs. The result was a patchwork system that often left cyclists unprotected along busy stretches of the city’s most-traveled roads.

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“You have drivers who feel like, ‘OK, you’re in my space.’ And they just speed past you. And so, you have to be very careful,” said cyclist Valerie Smith. “I ride with friends who are bikers. And it’s important for us and everybody else to be safe on the streets,” Smith said.

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The bike lanes the city installed over the past few years have shown some promising early results. According to a spokesperson for the city, there were 36 major crashes involving cyclists in 2015; eight of them were deadly. Those numbers had dropped significantly last year. In 2018, there were 17 major crashes and four deaths.

“With the city of Fremont rapidly expanding — with all these new people coming into the city — it’s definitely difficult as a cyclist to find safe and correct ways to get from A to B,” said Scott Kramer, an employee at The Bicycle Garage.

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The city has earmarked a million dollars for the safety improvements and hopes to have the work completed by late April.