Please support our asks for the next twenty years of bike/ped infrastructure in Concord

The Master Plan draft was made public about a week ago (main document, appendices).  This is a policy document which will shape Concord’s investments in bicycle and pedestrian safety and convenience for the next twenty years.

An inadequate Master Plan

Unfortunately, the current draft has serious shortcomings. The biggest obstacle to bicycling in Concord is the danger of our high-traffic streets. Protected bike lanes (what Caltrans calls “Class IV”) and protected intersections are the current best practice for bicycle safety on high-traffic streets, and they are what we need in order for bicycle transportation to become an attractive option for Concord residents. But this Plan draft recommends not only no Class IV facilities, but only 3.69 miles of unprotected (i.e. paint only) Class II bike lanes in our entire city!

At the Plan Advisory Committee meeting last Monday (BC’s minutes to be posted soon on this blog), we expressed our disappointment to staff at this remarkable lack of serious bicycle facilities in a bicycle master plan, especially in the places where they are needed most for safety. We were told this was because road diets (conversion of a motor traffic lane into space for other modes) had been ruled out from the start, out of concern for motor traffic flow – even if necessary for bicycle safety on a given street due to limited right-of-way.

Contrary to existing policy

This prioritizing of motor traffic flow (referred to by traffic engineers as “level of service”) over safety for bicycle traffic is contrary to existing City policy. Policy T-1.9.5 on page 33 of the Transportation Element of the General Plan commits the City to “Prioritize pedestrian, bicycle, and automobile safety over vehicle speed and level-of-service at intersections and along roadways.” The City has so far done the exact opposite, and unfortunately this Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Safe Routes to Transit Master Plan draft is just a particularly egregious example. It will take persistent pressure from many residents to compel the City to keep its own policy commitment on this subject.

Bike Concord’s Advocacy Committee and Bike East Bay met yesterday and came up with a list of changes we want to see in the document. We were informed by discussion and input from Monument Impact, Central County Regional Group, and First Five Contra Costa, and we’ll be working with them and other community organizations to edit the list and make sure all our concerns are reflected for a consensus statement to be issued later. We will also be seeking your signature on that statement. Please watch this blog for further details soon.

Please support us at these meetings

There are two meetings coming up very soon at which we need your support:

  • Community Workshop on Thursday, May 5 at 5:30pm at the Senior Center on Parkside Circle. Our shared letter with partner organizations probably won’t be ready by then, but we will give you a printed list of points that we’d like you to support. We need your presence and your comments.
  • We could also use your support at the City Council study session on the Master Plan draft on Tuesday, May 10 at 6:30pm. The Council chamber is in the center of the City office complex at 1950 Parkside Dr, Concord. The Master Plan portion of that meeting will be fairly short. We’ve been asked to condense our comments for delivery by one person instead of putting a long queue at the podium. You will not have to get up and speak (unless you particularly want to), but it’s very important to have you in the room to show the volume of support for our asks.

Please choose one or both of these meetings to show up and support Bike Concord – this set of policies is for the next twenty years!

Advertisements

Final Master Plan Community Workshop on Thursday, May 5, 5:30pm

The third and final Master Plan Community Workshop will be on Thursday, May 5, 5:30pm at Wisteria Hall, Concord Senior Center, 2727 Parkside Circle, Concord. City staff and consultants will present the public draft of the Master Plan to the general public for the first time, and comments will be accepted.

Please make every effort to attend. This public draft is the culmination of well over a year’s work, not only by staff and consultants, but by Bike Concord volunteers who have faithfully attended every meeting, read every document, and provided carefully-considered input all along the way.

We are relying on the Master Plan to bring firm policy commitments that will overcome persistent obstacles to good bicycle infrastructure in Concord. We will come to this Community Workshop with a developed position on the draft, including some non-negotiable elements whose presence or absence in the draft will determine whether we support or oppose its adoption.

All hands on deck – Fill the CCTA meeting again to support strong complete streets requirements in major road projects

Please turn out to the next meeting of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority on Wednesday next week, March 9, from 6:00pm to 8:00pm.  The meeting room is 2999 Oak Rd #110 (CCTA office, across from Pleasant Hill BART and next to Embassy Suites).

This meeting is important because it’s the first time the Authority Board will consider an actual draft of the Transportation Expenditure Plan (TEP).  The TEP is a plan for how the money will be spent from the half-cent sales tax for transportation which CCTA is planning to put on the November ballot.

Background

There have been months of meetings and discussions about what should be in the TEP.  They have involved the Authority Board, its staff and consultants, and a committee called the Expenditure Plan Advisory Committee (EPAC).  The EPAC is a committee of representatives of groups with an interest in the outcome of the TEP.  CCTA convened them to help shape the TEP, with the hope of securing their political support to pass the measure in November.

One of those interest groups is people who care about active transportation such as bicycling and walking.  Bike East Bay, Bike Concord’s partner at the county level, represents this interest on the EPAC.  Bike Concord has been supporting Bike East Bay in getting a significant amount of money planned for serious bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, by working with BEB’s Advocacy Director Dave Campbell to write proposed edits to the measure language, and by sending one of our advocacy organizers to participate in meetings with CCTA staff and consultants and to sit as an alternate for Dave on the EPAC when needed.

Ten Bike Concord members (maybe including you) turned out along with Bike Walnut Creek and Greenbelt Alliance at the Oct 21 meeting of the CCTA board (a.k.a. the “Authority Board”) to support Bike East Bay’s call for 15% of the revenue to go to complete streets projects. CCTA Board and staff have not honored this request.

However, thanks to good collaboration with staff and consultants (and probably in some part thanks to our demonstration of support on Oct 21), we have managed to get decent standards for complete streets infrastructure into the funding category for major roads.  In the current draft this category totals 8.6% of the measure for an estimated yield of $200 million.  This is for major road projects which merely include elements for non-motor users; a large part of this money will still go for motor traffic infrastructure.  For projects aimed exclusively to serve non-motor traffic, there is a separate category called “Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Trail Facilities” with 2.6% of the measure for an estimated yield of $60 million.  Project needs which we are already aware of, without considering future needs, alone justify doubling this amount.

There is still considerable room for improvement in the standards for complete streets, as well as the funding amount for non-motor projects, and Bike East Bay and Bike Concord are working with staff and consultants to make those improvements.

Please turn out on March 9

At this upcoming meeting on March 9, the Authority Board will make its first comments and directions to staff on the draft TEP.  We will urge the Board members to support strong complete streets standards in the Major Roads funding category, and to support a doubling of the Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Trail Facilities category.

Please attend this meeting and submit a comment card expressing support for Bike East Bay’s proposals.  Blank comment cards will be available on the table to your right as you enter the room.  It’s the glass door on the right immediately when you enter the building. Please write your name, put Bike Concord as your organization (if you wish to identify as one of our members) and in the comment space, write “I support Bike East Bay’s proposals for strong complete streets standards and funding in the TEP.”  Submit your comment card to the clerk, and take a seat.

Your comment card will also allow you to indicate whether you want to get up and speak during the appropriate comment period.  It is not necessary to speak, but you may wish to do so if you have a personal perspective to add. In any case, you may be asked by Dave Campbell of Bike East Bay or Kenji Yamada of Bike Concord, while they are making their comments, to raise your hand to show your presence.

Please share this blog post, or our Facebook event for the meeting, with anyone you know who cares about a healthier, safer transportation future for Contra Costa.

Please turn out tomorrow, Feb 10 – NOT tonight, Feb 9

Thanks to the direction of City Council at last Tuesday’s meeting in response to Bike Concord and Bike East Bay’s request, senior transportation staff will now consider and respond to our proposal for buffered bike lanes on Grant St instead of the unbuffered ones currently planned in Project 2277. So there is no need to turn out to tonight’s City Council meeting.  Instead, please try to make it to tomorrow evening’s public meeting on the Downtown Corridors Plan and Project 2277. Wednesday, Feb 10, 6pm at Concord Senior Center, 2727 Parkside Circle, Concord.

In addition to the Downtown Corridors Streetscape Plan (a general long-term vision), this public meeting will include the first public presentation of PJ 2277, a project for bike lanes on Grant St from BART to Todos Santos, as well as on a few blocks of Concord Blvd and Clayton Rd between Ellis Lake Park and downtown.

Unbuffered bike lanes, the bare minimum, are the Engineering Division’s current intention for the Grant St portion of PJ 2277. Bike Concord and Bike East Bay are proposing an alternative design with the following features.
– Continuity of bike lanes at all points.
– Buffers in some places, parking protection in others. The buffers will not only add safety and comfort for bicycle traffic, but will save space where physical barriers can be added later for further protection.
– Squared-off intersection corners to increase driver caution and decrease speed
– Green paint treatments at car-bicycle conflict zones.

Bike East Bay has posted a detailed description of the proposal.

What you can do: Show up to the meeting, make a comment to the effect that you want bicycle infrastructure on Grant that is safe and inviting enough to attract new and hesitant bicyclists, and that you want a detailed response by staff to Bike East Bay and Bike Concord’s proposal to make this a reality. It will be important for a strong number of residents to show up to this public meeting and convey support for making Grant St a good contemporary bikeway instead of a mediocre one.

If able to attend, please RSVP to joan.ryan@cityofconcord.org.

Please save the evening of Tuesday, Feb 9 to turn out for a good bikeway on Grant St

Please keep the evening of Tuesday, Feb 9 available to come out and support Bike Concord’s efforts to get a good bikeway instead of a mediocre one on Grant St from BART to Todos Santos Plaza.

Bike Concord and Bike East Bay met on Dec 11 with City of Concord project staff to propose detailed improvements to an existing project (PJ 2277) for basic bike lanes on Grant St.

Our alternative design was favorably received by project staff. But senior transportation staff have rejected it – not for any specific design reasons, but because they do not want to make any significant changes to the project no matter what those changes are. Staff are planning to make their first public presentation of the existing project design at the Feb 10 public meeting on the Downtown Corridors Plan, and their direction from senior staff is to show the project as originally designed, with no possibility of meaningful public input.

The existing design is for unbuffered, unprotected bike lanes on Grant St, the showcase corridor for our city from our transit station to downtown. We can do much better.

  • The stretch of Grant St between Todos Santos and BART is a representation of our city’s plans for active transportation to visitors arriving on BART, and for residents trying to reach BART from downtown. With the existing design, the project would indicate that our target is mediocrity. With the alternative design it would be a showcase project, demonstrating Concord’s serious intention of making active transportation a practical choice here.
  • We need to get Grant St right the first time.  It would be a waste of limited funds to build a mediocre bikeway in the hope of improving it later. The Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Safe Routes to Transit Master Plan, which the City is currently drafting with community input including that of Bike Concord, will commit the City to creating a comprehensive bicycle network, built to contemporary standards rather than the faulty designs of past decades. The existing project design of unbuffered bike lanes does not meet those contemporary standards.
  • Grant St needs to be an inviting entryway from BART to downtown in order to entice risk-averse bicyclists, especially families with children on their way to a family-oriented event in our downtown such as the Music and Market Series, or KidFest.  The existing design creates no such entryway.
  • A great bikeway will bring more business to our downtown. Comparative data from many communities shows that people on foot and on bicycles tend to visit businesses more often and spend more money overall.  An inviting bikeway is a path to a more prosperous Todos Santos Plaza.

Bike Concord’s Advocacy Committee and Bike East Bay are working to persuade our elected officials that a good, inviting bikeway on Grant St is preferable to mediocrity. If you support Bike Concord’s mission, please join us at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb 9 to make that message as strong as possible.  Council meetings are held in the Council Chamber at 1950 Parkside Dr, usually starting at 6:30pm. We will post again here on the blog when a detailed agenda is available for the Feb 9 Council meeting.

If you’ve never gone to a public meeting before, your participation will be even more valuable because you will be a new face to our officials.

We hope to see you the evening of February 9!