Supporters of cycling said the biggest factor cities can play in promoting biking is offering a safe route.

“The issue is safety and if we want to create a commuter ethic we need to give them safety,” said Jane Block, a member of Riverside’s bicycle advisory committee.

She said cycling often gets lost in how to develop safe roads and trails. The ideal, she said, would be a Class A system — a dedicated bike trail free of cars and pedestrians, in all local cities.

“I think we should have a competition to see who can do it quickest,” she laughed. “I would love to see and would feel a personal victory if there was a Class A loop around all the cities.”

Within that system, local streets also need an upgrade, officials and cyclists said. Painting lanes and doing minor fixes to city streets can help, but in some areas, like downtown Riverside, more might be needed to make the city bike-friendly, some said.

“I think if they took away parking on one side of one or two streets, it would make a big difference,” said Austin, who rides to downtown Riverside from the Wood Streets area for his lunchtime shift.

Gardner said the loss of parking would be a hurdle, especially along less-traveled streets where some bikes lanes might be installed. Residential streets could be a better place for some bike lanes because it removes cyclists from busy streets such as Third Street. But the proposals run into opposition from some area residents, who worry they’ll lose coveted parking spots.