Local and state officials are working on a plan to make Atlantic City, especially Atlantic Avenue, more bicycle-friendly.

Making it easier for bicyclists to navigate Atlantic City - which has no dedicated bike lanes other than the early-morning bicycling hours on the Boardwalk - is a great idea that would improve the quality of life for Atlantic City residents.

Bicycling is fun, healthy and a remarkably efficient way to get around in a city, particularly if the city has made accommodations for cyclists.

A common complaint from Atlantic City residents is that not enough is done for them, as opposed to tourists. Putting bike lanes on Atlantic Avenue - indeed, improving the cycling opportunities throughout the city - would directly benefit residents. It would provide new recreational opportunities, and it would facilitate bicycle commuting to jobs at the casinos and elsewhere.

But.

Yes, there's a "but." We don't want to slam the brakes on this planning process, but we do want to tap them to slow it down a bit.

The city's major transportation problem at the moment is Pacific Avenue, the main thoroughfare for tourists. And fixing that must come first, before any changes are made to Atlantic Avenue.

Are we putting visitors ahead of city residents? Some will think so. But we've never bought into that supposed dichotomy.

Right now, Pacific Avenue is a congested, rutty, bumpy, suspension-rattling ride its entire length from Albany Avenue to Maine Avenue. Roads make an impression on people - and Pacific Avenue makes an embarrassing impression.

We're somewhat mystified by the fact that, despite all the other obvious improvements in the city, Pacific Avenue remains so neglected.

Yes, we know the Tourism District master plan calls for the casinos to open up their Pacific Avenue facades, creating new retail space and charming cafes.

But that's a long, long way away.

Pacific Avenue needs to be repaved its entire length -right now. And whatever happened to the sensible proposals to make Pacific one way? Are they dead?

We completely support the efforts to make Atlantic Avenue more bicycle-friendly. But Pacific Avenue must be addressed first. And whatever is done on Pacific will unavoidably result in traffic being diverted onto Atlantic, at least temporarily while the work is being done.

So do Pacific - something, anything - before making major changes to Atlantic Avenue. Ultimately, improvements to the main tourist thoroughfare will benefit everyone, visitors and residents alike.