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Monday, March 9, 2015
This month's BWC meeting is cancelled in hopes that you'll attend one (or all) of the following events this month. Our next BWC meeting is 6:30pm Thursday, April 9 in the Las Trampas Room of the downtown Public Library.
You can help our city improve by attending these events and speaking for safer bicycling in Walnut Creek:
3/10- Tuesday 10am - Walking Tour with Mayor Simmons around the West Downtown. RSVP here.
3/10 Tuesday 7pm - Conversation with Mayor Simmons. Open-ended question and answer session. Downtown Public Library.
3/14 Saturday 1pm - Walking Tour with Mayor Simmons around the West Downtown. RSVP here.
3/19 Thursday 7pm - Joint Transportation and Planning Commission Meeting to discuss the West Downtown Specific Plan. City Hall 3rd Floor Conference Room.
Bring your family, neighbors and friends to these events. Let's really show the city council and commissions that bicyclists are really a diverse group but we all want safety. Ask the city to provide family-friendly bicycle routes to schools, downtown, local grocery stores and businesses.
If You Can't attend any meeting about the West Downtown Specific Plan...
Please do your part by sending a simple message to the people below. Tell them who you are, why you bike, and what you want to see from this plan. In brief, we would like to see streets that are safe enough for ALL AGES and ABILITIES to bike. In particular:
- protected bikeways on Olympic, Mt. Diablo, and California
- inclusion of the Olympic Corridor Connection Study
- support for the bridge over Ygnacio Valley Rd.
- more bike lockers
- separation of bike parking requirements from car parking
- streets designed for slow traffic through the neighborhoods
Planner Andy Smith
Senior Traffic Engineer Rafat Raie
Mayor Bob Simmons
Mayor pro-tem Loella Haskew
Councilmember Cindy Silva
Councilmember Justin Wedel
Councilmember Rich Carlston
You can mail your letter to: 1666 N. Main St, Walnut Creek, 94596
Monday, January 12, 2015
Tomorrow, Tuesday, at 4pm, the City Council is holding a meeting to discuss the first draft of the West Downtown Specific Plan. We need you to attend to advocate for a more bike-friendly future!
What: West Downtown Specific Plan City Council Study Session
Where: City Hall, 3rd Floor Conference Room
When: 4pm Tuesday, January 13
Read more: West Downtown Specific Plan Website
Why is this plan (and meeting) so important?
The City is spending $1M to craft a 25 year plan for the area bounded by Ygnacio, California, Olympic, and 680. This area is set to become much more urban as up to 3000 new residences will be built along with increased commercial and retail property. Currently the plan has acceptable 3-year improvements, but not 25 years. If safe bicycle infrastructure isn't including in this plan, then we can say goodbye to the best opportunity to improve West Downtown for another generation.
But you can help!
Attend the meeting and speak during the public comment period. Say:
1) Who you are
2) Why you bike
3) What you want from this plan
If you can't attend the meeting, you can send your thoughts to:
Andy Smith, Planner firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor Bob Simmons email@example.com
What BWC would like to see:
-The Olympic Corridor Connection (protected bikeways on Olympic and California) included as part of this plan
-Protected bikeway along the entire stretch of California
- Long term improvements to compliment what we consider the plans short-term bike improvements
-separate bike parking requirements from car parking requirements, as the two are unrelated
-mandatory parking lockers for all residential buildings
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Please come to the Transportation Commission meeting tonight at 6pm at City Hall. There are many proposed road "improvements" near public schools, and in our opinion, none provide adequate safety for people on bicycles. If we don't speak up for our children now, then we'll have to wait another 10 years for another opportunity to improve these locations.
You can read the full agenda here.
If you can speak, here are some improvements we think would make it safer:
San Juan Avenue near Buena Vista Elementary
-install bulb-out on north-east corner of San Juan / Alvarado
-raised pedestrian crossing to school at mid-block of San Juan, with bulb-out on east side, and rapid flashing lights
-install sidewalk on west side of San Juan, adjacent to the school
-the plan calls for (east to west) 8' parking, 12' northbound lane, 14' southbound lane, 17.5' angled parking. We would like to see that improved to include bicycling with one of these two options:
- 7' parking, 5' bike lane,10' northbound, 10' southbound, 7' parking, and 14.5' for a protected 2-way cycletrack OR
- 5' bike lane, 10' northbound, 10' southbound, 16' for angled parking, and 13'5 for a protected 2-way cycletrack.
-if angled parking must be maintained, it is far safer to have back-in parking. Drivers enter slower, and have a better view of cyclists when they exit. Passengers (kids) exit to the rear of the car, which would be the sidewalk instead of the road.
Buena Vista, north of San Luis
-we are encouraged to see 10' street widths proposed for Buena Vista, north of San Luis. This is the first time the city is making a road so narrow, with the benefits that it helps slows down traffic to the speed limit, and it frees up much needed space for other uses (like bike lanes!).
-the downside of this plan is that the bike lanes will be squeezed between parking and moving cars. Although we're supportive of city's efforts to install bike lanes here, a better plan would be to remove parking on one side and make each bike lane buffered with striped paint. What is more important: fully subsidized storage of someone's private property (their car), or the ability to safely commute by your non-polluting, community-building choice of walking and biking?
Buena Vista, south of San Luis
-here is where the city really fails. The plan calls for sharrows, which is inappropriate for the amount of traffic here, the wide (fast) road design, and especially considering that this provides direct access to the elementary school! Buffered bikes lanes could be installed with only removing a few sporadic parking spaces.
-consider installing child-safe crosswalks at around Buena Vista Place and again at Orinda Lane
|Sharrows - the chalk outline of the run-over cyclist.|
Monday, April 28, 2014
The City of Walnut Creek is spending more than one million dollars to create a 25-year Plan for the West Downtown. This is the area bordered by BART, California Blvd, Olympic Blvd. and 680.
The City has just released it's Street Design Guidelines, which outlines the recommended bicycle improvements, among other things. The consensus? There is NOTHING forward-thinking for bicycle infrastructure. It looks like a weak 5-year plan for Walnut Creek now. Or maybe a good 5-year plan for Palo Alto . . . if the year was 1998.
There are no protected bike lanes envisioned in the next 25 years, when other cities have been installing them for the last decade with great success (and data to show how they improve safety, business, and community well-being). It seems like every other city in the Bay Area is getting physically protected bike lanes in the next year or two, if they don't already have them. It's time that Walnut Creek take our safety seriously.
What can you do? Attend the meeting at 4pm on Tuesday, April 29 in the third floor conference room of City Hall. There will be a public comments period starting around 4:30pm. Please come with your family, friends and neighbors. Email us if you can make it and we can help you figure out what to say.
If the city can't plan for bicycles 25 years down the road, then what hope do we have now?
Download the entire Street Guidelines (warning, large file)Visit the Plan's homepage.
Keep reading to learn our first-read impressions in greater detail.
The Plan frequently speaks of car improvements and traffic flow as "must", "should", and "would", whereas for bicycles, it often reads "recommend" or "could". This non-committal terminology allows the city to get off-the-hook if they don't actually follow through, which history shows is a highly likely scenario. It also reflects the importance of maintaining traffic flow over all other considerations. We should be talking about moving people, not just moving cars.
Bicycle Concept - Overview
"Bicycle facilities have been identified by the community as a high priority" so there will be "strong concepts" to improve bicycling. Yet, in reading through the Guidelines, it is clear that the community's voices are being ignored. In every instance, the streets are less safe than what the citizens demanded at the last community outreach meeting.
"A potential bridge" over Ygnacio, from the end of Lacassie to BART, is discussed frequently, yet no study has been done on the bridge. Will it be possible or practical there? Maybe better elsewhere? Is it not possible at all? Would it ever be funded? Despite these questions of existence and feasibility, the bicycle network hinges on the bridge. Otherwise, California near Ygnacio would be made into a much safer facility, rather than diverting people to Lacassie.
A Cut-through on Church Property
A "Class I Facility is proposed to connect Trinity Ave to Lacassie Ave through the Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church property". Does the church know about this? In all previous discussions, any trail like this was deemed not possible and off the table. Why is it included now? Has the Church changed their mind, or is the city doing this to placate us? This would be great, but again, I am unsure about the reality of this happening.
In every case the streets are too wide in the Plan. The "standard" street width in Walnut Creek (and most of the country) is 12'. That is the norm set by the highway system. So, we end up with local roads that are sized to accommodate 18-wheeler trucks at 65mph. The argument is that this width won't slow down traffic. Sure, that's true, but it also encourages speeding, wastes space, and increases pedestrian exposure to danger. It is sometimes possible to have 9' wide street, but even 10 or 10.5' is common enough nowadays. It doesn't worsen traffic, it merely slows cars to the appropriate speed limit. However, nowhere does the Plan shows streets narrower than 11', and the vast majority of streets remain at 12'. This is simply too wide and too fast for the safety of all users, but especially bicyclists who often must ride next to speeding cars.
Analysis of Each Street
Trinity - The plan says "lane widths should be reduced" but the westbound lane is shown being 12' and the eastbound lane is 14', which is actually wider than it is today. In the same space, with 10.5' lane widths, there could be a 5' bike lane eastbound and a 7' protected bike lane westbound (uphill), while maintaining parking on the eastbound side. With a few extra feet, we could make both of those bike lanes protected.
Lacassie - Also shown with 12' lanes and no bike facility (Share-the-road markings / sharrows does not constitute a bike facility, it's just a painted stick figure of a bicyclist on the pavement. It might as well be a chalk outline). This is especially startling considering that Lacassie will be the main east/west corridor to connect downtown to the mythical bridge, and yet there is not any bike improvements. This should have protected bike lanes, or a multi-use path leading to the bridge.
Oakland Blvd - Again, the street is as wide as they can make it - 12'. With slightly reduced auto lane of 11', there would be enough space to have a physically protected bike lane in each direction. The northbound bike lane would be adjacent to the sidewalk, not sandwiched in between a travel lane and parking lane. It is crucial that the level of safety here match the north portion, where there currently exists a separated bike lane, and south of Mt. Diablo Blvd, where a new Class 1 facility is proposed.
California - Currently there are bike lanes here, and the Plan recommends that a painted buffer be added. However, with an extra half of foot from each lane, there would be enough space to have a protected bike lane, adjacent to the sidewalk, with the parking lane next to the travel lanes. This is exactly what every single table asked for at the last community meeting. This is the main (and so far, only) route to BART, Kaiser, Trader Joe's and the dozens of businesses along the way.
Mount Diablo Blvd, from 680 to Alpine - Here is an instance where each travel lane is narrowed to 11' wide. However, with another half of foot per lane, we could have protected bike lanes instead of merely buffered. Also, the 15' sidewalk may seem excessively large if there is a nice protected bike lane adjacent, and that might provide an extra foot or two for the bike lanes.
Mount Diablo Blvd, from Alpine to California - Mysteriously, the bike lane disappears and bicyclists will be forced to travel between fast cars and parked cars. The travel lane even widens back to 12', encouraging drivers to speed up as they descend the hill towards California. The protected bike lane must be maintained here, otherwise few people will travel downtown from all of these new apartments.
Bonanza - Has 12' wide lanes and no bike facilities. The lanes should be reduced to 10.5' to slow traffic, otherwise this road will continue to be used as a cut-through for speeding cars. There should at least have a bike lane in the southbound direction, as this would allow cyclists heading south on California to travel to Mount Diablo more conveniently. The Plan is nonsensical to state that "vehicle traffic on this street will be relatively slow."
Alpine Road - It could be safer with bike lanes in both directions. Certainly having sharrows on the road does not make it "an integral link in the new north/south bicycle route" and would discourage many potential users.
Unnamed New Road, spur from Bonanza to Oakland - I could not find a reason that there needs to be a new road here. However, it would make a great multi-use path to improve access to Oakland Blvd.
Olympic - The Olympic Corridor Study is currently taking place, and that will establish the best route for a Multi-use Trail or Two-way Protected Bike Way, on Olympic. This map should show that as potential.
Ygnacio is NOT a Class III bicycle route, and to label it as such is an outright lie that the city staff perpetuates. Bicyclists may ride (il)legally on the side walk, or risk certain death on the road.
Civic could be made into a strong East/West route with protected bike lanes, giving access the library, Civic Park, the public pre-school and Senior Center. According to this plan and the Bike Plan, sharrows or regular bike lanes would be painted, but this would deter 99% of families.