Final Master Plan draft available

The final draft of Concord’s new Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Safe Routes to Transit Master Plan is now available to the public:  main document, appendices, and design guidelines.

It will now go through its last three venues for review:

  1. Final meeting of the Plan Advisory Committee this Monday, July 25 at 5:30pm in the Permit Center Conference Room.
  2. Planning Commission on Wednesday, August 3 at 6:30pm in the City Council chamber.
  3. City Council on Tuesday, September 27 at 5:30pm in the City Council chamber. Except in the unlikely event of serious objections by a Councilmember, Council will officially adopt the Master Plan as City policy.

These meetings are listed on the public Bike Concord calendar.

Along with other community organizations and members of the public, Bike Concord and our partner Bike East Bay have been participating extensively in the Master Plan process for the past year and a half. We have clear targets for what we want to see in the final Plan in order to realize our mission of making bicycling a safe, convenient, and mainstream part of Concord’s transportation system. We submitted and discussed with staff an extensive list of proposed changes to the previous public draft which was released in April.  Bike Concord’s Advocacy Committee and Bike East Bay will be meeting this Sunday morning, July 24, to discuss this final draft and determine our position on it.  If you would like to join that meeting, please email advocacy@bikeconcord.org.

Background on the Master Plan process from Bike Concord’s point of view is available on this blog.

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Planning Commission support for prioritizing safety over cars in the Master Plan

Bike Concord’s primary advocacy target at the moment is to obtain an explicit commitment in the Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Safe Routes to Transit Master Plan that all the projects and studies which implement the Plan will be conducted in compliance with existing General Plan Policy T-1.9.5 by prioritizing bicycle and pedestrian safety over motor vehicle level-of-service. Such a commitment would in effect require that a shared travel lane be converted into bicycle lanes where this is necessary to promptly assure safe bicycle travel on a street.

We received clear support on that point at tonight’s Planning Commission meeting from three out of four Commissioners. Thanks to Carlyn Obringer, Jason Laub, and Ray Barbour for lending their voices to help us get this important commitment for a safer, healthier, more equitable Concord. (Commissioner Lamar Anderson offered no comments on the Master Plan, either in support of or opposition to our request.)

We now have majority support on this point from Planning Commission, two strong supporters on City Council (Councilmembers Helix and Birsan), and ambiguous support from a third Councilmember (Vice-Mayor Leone). We will continue working to build more support and ensure that this crucial commitment is included in the final Master Plan draft.

Bike Concord considers this explicit priority commitment an essential element and will not support the Master Plan without it. We have made City staff aware of this, and hope to be able to speak well of the Master Plan when it comes before Council for adoption in September.

Report on City Council study session on the Master Plan

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.

Bike Concord members Laura Nakamura (video), Yelena Myakisheva (video), and Amy Ma also gave comments.

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.

 

Community Workshop report

Thanks to everybody who turned out for the Community Workshop last night. Based on BC’s conversations with staff, it appears our input and community backing are succeeding and we’re on our way to get the best results we can in the Master Plan – including an explicit commitment to conduct the Complete Street Studies in compliance with Policy T-1.9.5 by prioritizing bicycle and pedestrian safety above motor level of service.

Our conversations with staff over the next couple of weeks, and the City Council study session this Tuesday, will be crucial to figure out whether this is true. Staff plan to finalize the plan after May 23, just over two weeks from now. So let’s keep the pressure on until then.

Bike Concord’s Advocacy Committee will continue talking with staff to hammer out the details over this time, and will alert BC members, our partners, and the public if it looks like important things are going to be omitted. If you see something that needs to be fixed in the Master Plan draft and would like BC’s support in bringing it to staff, please let us know.