April 8 Community Workshop recap

On Wednesday, April 8, the City and Alta Planning & Design held a Community Workshop to get public input on the current state of Concord’s bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

Staff from BART were also present to show their plans and take comments on the upcoming work on the Concord BART station.

Alta’s markup maps

The main opportunity for input consisted of a table on which were two large paper maps of Concord’s streets.  On one map, attendees were invited to mark up routes and issues for pedestrian traffic; on the other, for bicycle traffic.  Alta staff members were on hand to explain the activity and discuss ideas.

Members of the public added pen-drawn notes in some particular map locations, which may be useful to Alta in understanding where improvements are most needed.  However, the highlighters provided to mark problematic sections of street yielded little or no specific information in the end, because all our major streets were completely highlighted.

This is an accurate indication of the condition of our streets for non-motor traffic, but a more detailed markup will be more useful for setting priorities in the Master Plan.  Bike Concord is now developing a means to obtain that more detailed street assessment from the public and provide it to city staff and Alta.  It will probably involve some combination of a custom Google Maps layer and more paper map markups.  We will post the opportunity to be part of this input on all our communication channels:  email newsletter, Facebook group, Twitter, and this blog.

City and Alta’s presentation

About midway through the event, Andrew Mogensen of the Planning Division and Jennifer Donlon-Wyant of Alta gave a presentation to explain the Master Plan process and take public questions.

Jennifer said that after receiving community input through the remaining public workshops and PAC meetings, Alta will present its recommendations for the Master Plan in January 2016.

A question came from the audience about how we could be sure our input had been integrated into the plan recommendations.  Jennifer said all input would be stored in a geographic information system (GIS) and be made available along with the recommendations.

In response to another question, Andy Mogensen said the City had considered collaborating on a bike share program with Walnut Creek and other neighboring municipalities, but had no concrete plans to do so.

BART’s presentation

Senior Planner Sadie (Sarah) Graham of BART presented plans for the upcoming Concord station upgrade.  Pedestrian and bicycle highlights include:

  • A dedicated, well-lit pedestrian entryway from the north (Grant St) side.  Bicycle traffic will be allowed to use this entry and there will be signage instructing how to do so, but there will be no dedicated line of travel for bicycles.
  • A new secure bicycle parking facility will be built concurrently with the general station upgrade, although it is funded as a separate project.  It will be a locked room with open rack capacity for 128 bicycles, and constant video surveillance.  Access will require a BikeLink card and first-time video identification.  The facility will be staffed part-time and will offer some limited bicycle repair and retail services.  Price is expected to be comparable to the current BikeLink lockers, which charge 3 cents per hour – in other words, nearly free.
  • BART currently plans to reduce the number of individual BikeLink lockers, which currently have capacity for 40.  Those that remain will be moved to another location, probably between the parking garage and the faregates.  This reduction is troubling to many Bike Concord members, because the BikeLink lockers provide features which the new parking facility will not:  multiple-day storage, and secure storage for ancillary items such as backpacks, helmets, or tools.  Multiple-day storage is important because not all BART trips involve a same-day return.

Sadie took public questions.  There was considerable discussion of the pros and cons of the shared bicycle parking facility vs. individual BikeLink lockers.

There were also a couple of questions about a bicycle connection from the Mesa St route to the parking facility, which Planning Commissioner John Mercurio has urged BART to include in the upgrade plan.  BART has expressed interest in the idea, but has offered no commitments so far.

As safe routes to transit are a major goal of the Master Plan, Bike Concord is anxious to see that the Concord BART station upgrade should take every opportunity to integrate the station into present and future bicycle routes.

The Mesa St bike route is one such opportunity at the south edge of the station.  A wide sidewalk designated as a bike route runs along Mesa St by the elevated BART track and terminates at the station property.  A dedicated line of travel from this point to the future parking facility would encourage and guide bicycle traffic arriving from the south.

Possible bicycle line of travel (red) from the existing Mesa St bike route (blue) to the future parking facility.
Possible bicycle line of travel (red) from the existing Mesa St bike route (blue) to the future parking facility.

As we implement the Master Plan and make our bicycle routes robust and welcoming, this Mesa St line of travel could become an important route to transit.  Bike Concord has therefore joined John Mercurio in urging BART to take this chance to make the Concord station part of a bicycle network rather than an island for bicycle traffic.

To request that BikeLink locker capacity be maintained, add support for a Mesa St connection to the parking facility, or to comment on any other element of the BART station plan, please email Sadie Graham at sgraham@bart.gov.

Official attendees

The following individuals from city bodies and Master Plan partner organizations were in attendance at the Community Workshop:

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