Minutes from the third PAC meeting

Here are Bike Concord’s minutes from the third meeting of the Plan Advisory Committee, which was held tonight.

The PowerPoint presentation referred to is available online from the City: http://www.cityofconcord.org/pdf/projects/transit/06222015.pdf

Laura Hoffmeister called the meeting to order at 5:34pm.  The following people were present:

  • Laura Hoffmeister (Vice-Mayor and chair of the committee).
  • Sergio Huerta (at-large member and vice-chair of the committee).
  • Claire Linder (at-large member).
  • Jason Laub (Planning Commission representative on the committee, filling in for Carlyn Obringer).
  • Mark Sinclair (Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Committee representative on the committee).
  • Jennifer Donlon-Wyant (Alta Planning + Design, consultant on the Master Plan).
  • Andy Mogensen (Principal Planner, City of Concord).
  • Laura Simpson (Planning Manager, City of Concord).
  • Cynthia Armour (Bike East Bay liaison to Bike Concord).
  • Smitty Ardrey (Bike Concord).
  • Kenji Yamada (Bike Concord).
  • Erik Owens (Bike Concord).
  • Yelena Myakisheva (Bike Concord).
  • Brian Cory (Bike Concord).

Jason Laub will be the alternate for the Planning Commission seat.  Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Committee has not yet appointed an alternate for Mark Sinclair.

Erik Owens made a public comment.  Has been living in Concord for 3 years.  Would like to see more bike lanes on major streets.  Wife is often afraid when he rides with the kids on the streets, due to a recent accident.

LH said this is what the committee is working on.

Results of the Community Survey.  Over 700 responses, which is more than Jennifer has ever seen on similar surveys in other communities.  54% women and 46% men.

More figures in the presentation.

Mark Sinclair asked LH if she had taken the Community Survey.  She had not.

Presentation page:  Factors that discourage walking; important walking access destinations.

LH asked if there were many youth participants in the survey.  Jennifer said there were very few.

Presentation page:  Factors that discourage bicycling; important bicycling access destinations.

Of factors that discourage bicycling, “Concerns about safety” and “Lack of dedicated bicycle space” were noted by far more respondents than the other four, “Not enough time / Destinations are too far”, “Insufficient lighting”, “Disability / Other health impairment”, and “Other”.

Presentation page:  Walking needs; bicycling needs.

A connected network was called for by both walkers and bicyclists.  Bicyclists called for “continuous dedicated bicyclist space on arterials, or key ‘spokes'”, and “connections on low-volume low-stress [streets]”.

Debris and obstructions were also a concern.  Jennifer added that recycling and garbage bins were cited as frequent obstructions.

Presentation page:  Demand analysis map.  This is a heat map of projected bicycling and walking demand points across Concord.  It is a projection based on types of destination, not necessarily a description of current demand.  It is a composite of several layers for various kinds of destination (e.g. shopping center, school, park, workplace).

The demand analysis map is only one tool for arriving at policies and priorities; it will be combined with community input, committee input, etc.  But it will be of especial use for obtaining grant funding for implementation of the Master Plan.

LH asked why the Loma Vista center was not prominently marked on the demand analysis map.  Andy said this was because it was a major destination mainly on weekends.  Not being marked does not mean it won’t be focused on.  Could also be unmarked due to a gap in the destination data.

Jason Laub asked if there could be an online tool for people indicate their desired bike/ped destinations.  Andy noted that Bike Concord has already built such a tool (map.bikeconcord.org) and provided the data.  It will be used in the Community Needs Assessment.

LH noted that many sidewalks are not city-maintained, but are the responsibility of private property owners even though they are in the public right of way.  Andy said we will have to take this into account.  Jennifer said they would review Concord municipal code on the subject and figure out how to deal with it.

Claire asked if elevation changes had been considered among obstacles to bicycling, e.g. the uphill in YVR.  Even stairs might be appropriate for pedestrians.  LH said stairs are not an option due to ADA.  Andy said there are some exceptions to ADA for very steep grades, but was not sure which ones exactly.

Presentation page:  Policies: Setting the path.  Vision, goals, objectives, policies.

Jennifer noted that the Master Plan is not only about infrastructure, but also programs e.g. education on how to drive and bicycle more safely.

Examples are shown in the presentation of vision, goals, objectives, and policies.  [The example policy seems more like an objective, as it is a destination to reach rather than a principle to put into immediate practice. – Kenji]

Pieces of paper were passed out to committee members to write examples of their desired goals, objectives, and policies.  Jennifer posted them on the board.

Some examples.  (Neglected to transcribe the first few.)

“Safe bikeways to BART from all areas of the city via arterial streets.”
“Add dedicated bikeways.”
“Improve bike and ped safety.”
“Convenience for non-car use.”
“Last mile.”
“Easy to use.”
“Protection of vulnerable users (elderly, children, etc.).”
“Bike and ped connectivity.”
“Greater use.  More trips and users.”
“Practical operation and maintenance.”
“Repair/fix existing [infrastructure].”
“Feasibility.”  This was from LH.  She noted that there are right-of-way constraints and suggested some streets should be a low priority for bike lanes due to these constraints.  Jennifer replied that some goals might be more feasible in the long term than in the short term.

Jennifer said the July 30 Community Workshop will involve a similar exercise with attendees.

LH asked whether staff are looking to see what is achievable to avoid making promises to the public that will be unattainable.  Had discussed this with other Council members.

Jennifer said she had worked with another community that aimed to create a bikeway network in 5 years, and due to unexpected grant funding they were able to do it in 3.  Although attainability is important, sometimes obstacles turn out to be more tractable than they appear.

LH reiterated the concern about right-of-way constraints.  Jennifer said this would be a factor in setting priorities.  Andy said there is a Technical Advisory Committee examining feasibility of the plan.

Jennifer said there is a lot of grant money that can be obtained for projects.

Jason Laub asked at what point funding sources would be discussed.  Jennifer said after the community has reviewed the public draft of the Master Plan (January 2016), Alta will recommend strategies to staff for pursuing funding.  But specific applications will not be possible until after the Master Plan is adopted.

LH said in about a year and half the City will be obligated by the state to refit storm drain systems, which will affect sidewalks and street grades.

Andy noted that the City has an ongoing corridor plan from BART to downtown.

Members of the public in attendance were invited to give examples of their desired goals for the Master Plan.

Smitty Ardrey:  Get bronze or better city rating from League of American Bicyclists by 2020.

LH said she would like to aim for a gold rating.  [Not sure if this was meant seriously.]

Yelena Myakisheva:  Focus on following best practices going forward, so as not to install unsafe infrastructure or reinvent the wheel.

Brian Cory:  Don’t install improvements out of order.  Neighbors next to City Hall on Salvio are displeased by the installation of a bike lane before a sidewalk.  They also want a sewer system overhaul first.  This makes the bicycle advocacy community look bad because neighbors will think we pushed for bike lanes before important sewer and sidewalk work.

Brian Cory:  No sharrows on a road with speed limits > 20 mph.  A neighbor showed up to the Oak Grove Rd meeting with her young son expecting bike lane addition, and instead was offered sharrows which would put him in >= 35 mph traffic.

Cynthia Armour:  Education and enforcement.  New bicyclists and new infrastructure types will require police officers to understand how the infrastructure is meant to be used.

Kenji Yamada:  Goal: Make it both perceptually and substantively safe to walk or bicycle anywhere in Concord.  Objective: >=70% of survey respondents think it’s safe to walk or bicycle anywhere in Concord, with at least 200 respondents.  (There should be numbers, but not necessarily these exact numbers.)

Yelena:  Goals to be in miles rather than percentages.

Erik Owens:  Think big, plan for 20 years into the future.

Brian Cory:  Has been attending TRANSPAC meetings and researching county transportation authority.  Has found that $2.2 billion is available for funding, subject to qualifications.  Many projects in the past have been difficult for the community to understand.  We seem to be behind in getting projects to RTPCs (regional sub-authorities under Contra Costa Transportation Authority, e.g. TRANSPAC for Central Contra Costa County) to qualify for funding from the County.  Bikeability will increase home value, which increases property tax revenue, which helps the City’s budget.  The planning for this needs to be done now to access to the money available from the County.  CCTA is being chastised by MTC for not using the money allocated to it for complete streets.

Jennifer summarizes as:  Get projects ready for funding.

Brian Cory:  Funding process is flawed because the County requires some funding match from the City in order to award grants, and the City doesn’t have money for this in order to access the grants.

LH:  This matching requirement was set by Measure J.

Presentation page:  Discussion: Setting the path.

3rd and last Community Workshop will be in early 2016 to give input on the public draft of the Master Plan.

Next PAC meeting will be July 27, 3 days before the 2nd Community Workshop on policy.  Staff will train PAC members to help facilitate at the Community Workshop.

LH and Mark Sinclair will not be able to attend the July 30 Community Workshop.

PAC members are asked to think about goals and objectives over the next month to talk further about them at the next meeting.

Council decision on the Master Plan likely in June 2016.

Cynthia:  Bike Concord will be represented in Concord’s July 4 parade.

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