Ten Bike Concord members turned out for tonight’s City Council study session on the draft of the Master Plan. Bike Concord organizer Smitty Ardrey made an announcement (video) before the Master Plan agenda item about our upcoming Bike to Work Day celebration, and some of the other services we have scheduled. It was a great segue into the Master Plan presentation by Alta Planning + Design.
Bike Concord had submitted a letter ahead of time asking Council to support us in asking staff to add commitments in the Master Plan for the recommended Complete Street Studies to be conducted consistent with General Plan Policy T-1.9.5 by prioritizing safety for all modes above motor speed and level-of-service.
In the absence of such a commitment, we can be sure the Complete Street Studies will be conducted with the opposite order of priorities, as every other “feasibility” study for bicycle infrastructure has been so far in this city. The result will be infrastructure choices which are inadequate for bicycle and pedestrian safety, and high cost estimates (due to expensive street widening as a substitute for conversion of a motor traffic lane or street parking into adequate bike lanes) that will delay important safety projects by years. Bike Concord therefore insists on a commitment to abide by Policy T-1.9.5.
Before any of us got up to make comments during the meeting, Councilmembers Helix and Birsan spoke up in support of adding that commitment to the Master Plan.
Councilmember Helix’s comment (video) to staff and consultants:
“On your next steps, your June 2016 Revised Draft Recommendation, I would like to see some specific language in there consistent with steps this Council has taken in its amendments to the General Plan. Specifically, reference to ‘Prioritize pedestrian, bicycle, and automobile safety over vehicle speed and level-of-service at intersections and along roadways.’ Every day you see examples where some car is in a hurry to get somewhere and bicycles, even in the bicycle lanes, are at risk. And that’s not what we’re striving for. And that’s the whole purpose of, really, great studies like this. And to me, you can have the greatest study in the world, but you’ll negate its significance if you do not emphasize the things that this Council has as far as where our priorities should be. And I hope that will be reflected in the language as you develop.”
Councilmember Birsan (video) echoed Helix’s comments, and added that he specifically supports Class IV protected bike lanes down the whole length of Monument Blvd. This would be a change from the conceptual plan in the current Master Plan draft, which proposes a 12-foot sidewalk shared between bicycle and pedestrian traffic in both directions on one side of the street, and no bike lanes.
Mayor Hoffmeister commented (video) that Council had been working with technical staff to find ways to “balance” motor traffic flow with safety. The implication is that these are equally important priorities.
I (Kenji) amended my pre-written comment (video) to thank Councilmembers Helix and Birsan for their support, and to note that Policy T-1.9.5 does not call for level-of-service to be “balanced” with safety for all modes, but rather for safety to be prioritized above level-of-service.
We’ll see in our conversations with staff over the next couple of weeks whether they are still hesitating to put in the language we’ve called for. We will also continue seeking support on this crucial point from the remaining three members of City Council – Mayor Hoffmeister, Vice-Mayor Leone, and Councilmember Grayson.