The public open house yesterday on the Caltrans project to add ramps to SR-242 in Concord went reasonably well. Details follow.
But first, a request to Bike Concord members and supporters: Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org in support of high priority for bicycle safety in this project. (Note: The address we were given at the meeting and posted here earlier, email@example.com, seems to have been incorrect. Please use the gmail.com address instead.)
We were told at the open house that the quantity of comments from the public makes a difference in internal Caltrans decisions, by strengthening the position of those staff members whose view is supported by the comments received. There are staff who would prefer to relegate bicycles to the sidewalk, and others who take bicycle transportation seriously. Please add your email in support of the latter by the deadline of October 10. It will make a difference.
Here is a brief suggested text which you can simply paste into your email and send. Or if you have the time, please express the same substantive points in your own words. Relevant personal experience is worth including.
I am a resident near the proposed Caltrans project to add ramps to Highway 242 in Concord. It is important to me that the project provide for safe bicycle movements through the intersections in its scope, in space separated from pedestrians and protected from cars.
firstname.lastname@example.org is the address. Deadline is October 10.
Now about the meeting.
There were six people in the room from Bike Concord, and about six other members of the public, as well as Mayor Laura Hoffmeister and Vice-Mayor Ron Leone. Staff present were Susan Miller of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA), and a couple of Caltrans staff.
We were told the following:
- The plan for bicycle safety in the project so far is to widen some sidewalks to 10-12 feet, with the expectation that these will serve both bicycle and pedestrian traffic in both directions. We expressed the view that 12′ is the bare minimum for this purpose, and that mixing bicycle and pedestrian traffic is best avoided; the project should involve full mode separation wherever possible.
- Low-level design decisions are not being made at this point; the only decision being made now is the choice between Alternatives 1 and 2, the difference between which is mainly which streets will receive the new on- and off-ramps of 242. (Bike Concord has not taken a position on this question yet.)
- We emphasized that regardless of design details, we wanted a commitment to the functional goal of making these intersections safe for average bicyclists, including families with children. Staff responded that they could not promise any particular functional outcomes on this point, and that safe bicycle movements through the intersections will be provided for to the extent “feasible”. We pressed the point that “feasibility” in bicycle infrastructure typically means motor level-of-service (LOS) is to be prioritized over bicycle safety, and that we expect Caltrans to reverse this order of priorities in its evaluation of feasibility. We discussed some specific movements and motor-bicycle conflicts at the intersections, and proposed some design options to address them. Staff were not dismissive, but they again deferred these questions to a later time.
- The project is far from implementation, and will certainly not be implemented before the relevant corridor projects pursuant to Concord’s Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Safe Routes to Transit Plan, which will be adopted next Tuesday. This is welcome news to us, as it means we have time to influence the project, and that the functional goals of our future local project for this corridor will be able to shape this Caltrans project.
We were told there won’t be a second public input meeting. Instead, staff will follow up directly with parties who submit input, and further versions of the design will be publicly posted.
Bike Concord has requested digital copies of the updated concept drawings for Alternatives 1 and 2. We will post them on this blog when we receive them.