It’s official: the City of Concord has adopted the Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Safe Routes to Transit Master Plan at its September 27, 2016 Council meeting. It is the culmination of many hundreds of hours of work between the city and Bike Concord along with its partners. While there are many things about it that, if implemented, would improve active transportation here, the city’s commitment to safety for all users has been uneven.Read More »
This coming Tuesday, September 27, City Council will officially adopt the Bicycle Pedestrian, and Safe Routes to Transit Plan which has been under development for the past two years. The meeting starts at 6:30pm, but this agenda item (6b) will probably not come up before 7:30pm at the earliest, as there are several items before it.
Bike Concord has spent hundreds of volunteer hours on participation and advocacy in this Plan process. We are not completely satisfied with the Plan. It fails to make any commitment to address the greatest barrier to safe, convenient bicycle transportation in Concord: the lack of protected space for bicycle travel on streets with heavy motor traffic, and the lack of protected movements through intersections. We have called persistently for such a commitment, as we believe it follows from the City’s existing General Plan policy, as well as being necessary for the Plan’s stated goals.
However, the Plan is a significant step forward. It contains many good recommendations for City transportation policy – and most importantly, it targets important streets and corridors for study within five years.
But the issue is the priorities and constraints under which the studies will be conducted. Without the policy commitment we have been asking for, it is possible – even likely – that studies on some important streets will conclude that inadequate bicycle facilities are the best possible, because limiting motor traffic congestion is a higher priority than facilitating safe, convenient bicycle transportation.
The City, both key officials and key staff members, have so far resisted our call to reverse these priorities. If you support an end to the policy of making bicycle safety conditional on motor traffic flow, this Tuesday night is an excellent time to attend in person and say as much to our elected officials.
If you are unable to attend, please send an email to Mayor Laura Hoffmeister in support of our position. Below is a suggested text. If you are able, restating the same points in your own words would be even better. Your personal experience is also relevant.
I support Bike Concord’s position that safe, convenient bicycle travel in Concord should not be conditional on motor traffic flow. Please support publicly, and urge your fellow Councilmembers to support, a reversal of these priorities. The City of Concord should not plan to leave any street or intersection dangerous for bicycle traffic.
Thanks to everyone who set aside their evening to come to yesterday’s Planning Commission meeting on the final draft of the Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Safe Routes to Transit Master Plan.
Unfortunately, the Commission chose not to adopt the resolution we were proposing. It would have clarified that the use of motor level-of-service (LOS) as a reason to rule out project design elements that are necessary for bicycle or pedestrian safety is inconsistent with the General Plan. The General Plan in its current form already commits the City to prioritize safety for all three modes above LOS.
Staff’s opinion was that this resolution would constitute an amendment to the General Plan. Bike Concord disagrees, but Planning Commissioners understandably chose to be cautious and defer to staff’s view on this point.
However, most of the Planning Commissioners were sympathetic to the issue we were raising: that the high priority given to LOS has been a persistent barrier to bicycle safety and is likely to continue to be so until the City changes its priorities. Planning Commission Vice-Chair Jason Laub in particular committed to help overcome this issue when it arises in specific projects before Planning Commission in the near future. Although we did not get the formal resolution we were seeking, we have succeeded in putting the issue of LOS vs safety on the agenda of Commissioners, staff, and to some extent, City Council. It will take sustained pressure, dialogue, and attention to every relevant future project to bring our work to fruition, but we are nearer to success than we have ever been.
Great comments from everybody – Brian Cory, Dave Pitman, Amy Ma, and Barbara Brunell, as well as kind words for Bike Concord from Coire Reilly of Contra Costa Health Services. Our turnout was important; this was reflected in the comments of Planning Commissioners and those of Transportation Manager Ray Kuzbari, who acknowledged that Bike Concord has become a strong community worth listening to.
If you have seldom or never been able to attend a public meeting with Bike Concord but support our mission, please consider choosing a meeting in the near future to come make a supportive comment. Your public support will be even more valuable if one meeting is all you can do, because you will be a new voice and face.
Bike Concord is asking the City’s Planning Commission to adopt a proposed resolution at its meeting this Wednesday evening. Your attendance in support would be much appreciated.
The meeting is this Wednesday, August 3 at 6:30pm in the City Council chamber.
The resolution we are proposing and an argument for it are given in a letter which we submitted to staff for distribution to Planning Commissioners early this morning. The resolution is an advisory finding that the use of motor vehicle level-of-service (LOS) as a reason to rule out road project elements that are necessary for bicycle, pedestrian, or automobile safety is inconsistent with the General Plan’s Policy T-1.9.5: Prioritize pedestrian, bicycle, and automobile safety over vehicle speed and level-of-service at intersections and along roadways. Our letter also responds to some counter-arguments that have been raised to our position on this point.
The advisory finding we are seeking from Planning Commission will not compel any particular decisions, but it will be of great help in moving the City towards compliance with T-1.9.5 and safety for all modes on all streets, no longer to be conditional on minimal impact to motor traffic flow.
The Commission can reject our proposed resolution, adopt it as written, or adopt it with any changes they wish. Please attend the meeting if you possibly can. Your presence in the room will show support for this important step forward for Bike Concord’s mission of safe, convenient bicycling in our community.
ALL HANDS ON DECK for next week’s Planning Commission meeting. It’s on Wednesday, August 3 at 6:30pm in the City Council chamber.
For the past year in conversations with staff, at Planning Commission, and in front of City Council, Bike Concord has been asking for one crucial change in the Master Plan draft: the addition of an explicit statement in the Master Plan that General Plan Policy T-1.9.5 (Prioritize pedestrian, bicycle, and automobile safety over vehicle speed and level-of-service at intersections and along roadways) means the recommended studies in the Master Plan cannot use possible impacts to motor traffic as a basis to rule out bicycle or pedestrian facilities that are necessary for safety.
Without such a commitment, we can be sure most of the studies recommended in the Master Plan will end just as most street projects have in this city so far: a conclusion that safe bicycle infrastructure is “infeasible” because it could cause motor traffic backup. Minimizing motor traffic backup (“level-of-service”) has been and remains a higher priority in practice for the City than bicycle safety, in spite of its official General Plan policy to the contrary in T-1.9.5.
No commitment to break with the City’s history of ignoring Policy T-1.9.5 has been added to this final draft. We will be sending an official policy letter to Planning Commission in advance of the meeting, calling on them to adopt a resolution recommending to City Council that the commitment be added. Bike Concord will not endorse this Master Plan without that commitment. If you support Bike Concord’s work for safe, convenient bicycle travel in our city, please help us pack the room on August 3 (Wednesday next week). Your presence is crucial.
After the Planning Commission meeting, our focus shifts to City Council itself, for their final Master Plan meeting on September 27. We will provide details on that meeting, our preparation for it, and what you can do to help as the date approaches.