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Help Bring Better Streets for Walking, Biking to Your Neighborhood

Make your voice heard at a local Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meeting.

Every roadway project should be a bike project, and a walking project, and a transit project, and not just a car project.

When the streets you ride on or walk across are repaved, a bike lane should be striped, crosswalks upgraded, traffic speeding issues addressed, and transit improvements incorporated from the start.

Before roadway projects start, planners should first consider how to spend your city’s transportation dollars, considering the needs of everyone who uses the streets, including people like you who walk and ride. They should also consider how proposed projects meet the City’s goals for better roadways and better communities. The result would be streets that look more like Photo A (A vision of Telegraph Ave as a "complete street") and less like Photo B (East 14th Street in San Leandro today).

Good news! The days will soon end when planners and engineers devise ways to move more cars and speed them up on the roadways without regard to the impacts on pedestrians, people on bikes, and transit users. In the coming years, these transportation professionals will be required to sit down with community stakeholders and ask what improvements to the streets people would like to see, what problems they are experiencing, what goals should be set to increase the number of people walking and using a bike. And the day is coming sooner rather than later thanks to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission approving a new Complete Streets Policy on May 17, which will govern future transportation projects in the Bay Area.

Despite Tea Party distractions, our elected officials are committed to directing more transportation money towards in-fill, transit-oriented development, and they are committed to ensuring these dollars are spent for the benefit of all, drivers and bicyclists alike. Every city in the East Bay is now required to adopt a Complete Streets Policy by Council resolution no later than January 31, 2013. Your Bicycle Coalition will be working with local bicycle/pedestrian advisory committees and planners in each of our cities to start the challenging work to develop these policies and seeing that they are implemented, so that they result in new bike lanes and safer streets for you to use everyday.

What you can do:
Attend an upcoming meeting of your city's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and provide your input on what improvements you want to see in upcoming roadway projects:

• In Berkeley, the next meeting is from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Monday, June 11, at the North Berkeley Senior Center at Hearst Avenue and MLK Jr. Way.

Here's the schedule in neighboring cities:

• Oakland: The Complete Streets Policy is on the July agenda. Oakland’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meets from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month in Hearing Room 4 of City Hall, 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza.

• Emeryville: The Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meets from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the first Monday of every month in the ground floor Garden Room of City Hall, 1333 Park Ave.

• Richmond: Meetings are held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the second Monday of every month on the second floor of City Hall, 450 Civic Center Plaza.

If your city is not listed here, please contact Dave Campbell, EBBC Program Director, and help us form a Bicycle Advisory Committee in your City.

The East Bay Bicycle Coalition works for safe, convenient and enjoyable bicycling for all people in the East Bay. Visit our website: www.ebbc.org to learn more about our efforts to encourage more people to try bicycling.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Preston Jordan May 31, 2012 at 04:46 AM
Thanks for the post Tatter Salad. A bit more than a year ago Albany Strollers & Rollers did a census of conditions on every block of sidewalk in Albany. You can read about it, look at the results graph and maps, and images of example problems at http://www.albanystrollroll.org/Home/work/sidewalk-survey. From this AS&R learned about the problems on the stretch of Solano to which you refer. A week ago last Sunday the Council's agenda included the update of the biannual Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for the City. This included a streetscape design project for upper Solano to bring it up to the standard of lower Solano. However the western project boundary was Santa Fe, which is east of the worst section! Based on the sidewalk census results, AS&R advocated for this design project to be extended westward at least to Pomona, which appeared to be the western edge of the worst stretch. Thankfully City staff responded by extending the project boundary west to Masonic. Of course this is just a design project. Its purpose is to prepare the City to apply for money from the proposed one percent County sales tax to fund transportation on the ballot this fall, should it pass. The expenditure plan for this revenue specifically calls out Solano for improvements. Beyond that, AS&R was motivated to perform the sidewalk census to inform itself whether the anecdotal perception of pervasively poor sidewalk conditions was accurate. AS&R considers the census results confirmed this.
Preston Jordan May 31, 2012 at 04:58 AM
On this basis AS&R has successfully advocated that the Traffic and Safety Commission put consideration of the sidewalk maintenance program on its future agenda list. When this item comes up, AS&R plans to argue that the approach to sidewalk maintenance should be at parity with road maintenance. Currently the City identifies the need for road maintenance, contracts for and manages the maintenance, and pays for it out of funds contributed by all of us every year. This includes a parcel tax Albany passed in 2006 that charges about $100 per residence per year. In contrast, sidewalk maintenance, including identifying the need, contracting for and managing the maintenance, and paying for it is the responsibility of whoever owns property nearest the sidewalk (although the City will reimburse half afterwards under certain conditions and if funds have not run out). This, even though the sidewalks are on public property just like the roads. This inequitable approach to maintenance means that some sidewalks remain damaged for decades in my experience because the adjacent property owner will not take action, and when owners do take action it is relatively more expensive due to small scale. Why should sidewalks and their users be relegated to this second class status compared to roads and road users, particularly in a City that prides itself, or at least claims, to be one of the greenest around?
Ellen Hershey May 31, 2012 at 05:50 AM
Thanks for this very informative post, Preston. I had no idea that I'm responsible for the condition of the sidewalk in front of my house. Sigh! Another item for my home maintenance list, but at least now I know.
Ira Sharenow May 31, 2012 at 04:51 PM
If there is a dedicate tax to fix streets, how come Albany has a terrible pothole problem while El Cerrito was able to greatly improve its streets? http://elcerrito.patch.com/articles/award-for-el-cerrito-streets-most-improved-in-bay-area http://www.mtc.ca.gov/
Tatter Salad June 11, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Thanks Preston, for the official line and history. You did not touch upon the west side of Key Route blvd. (in the 900 to 1200 blocks) in which there is NO room for an island between the 3' sidewalk and the curb; ywt the city inserted 'Clean the street' signage IN this side walk, narrowing the usage to 2' in many areas. This remains IN VIOLATION of the cities own rules about providing 3' minimum of sidewalk space. It would be one thing if there were trees here actually dirtying the street, but as said: there can be none. It would be a further issues if the entire city of Albany suffered this signage, but that too isn't the case; Key Route was among the first. What does this mean to the residents? The hazard presented by the narrowing of the sidewalks to 2' to clear the signs means their children cannot safely ride their bikes upon it, and must cross the street inorder to find safer passage. You might argue that this is the result of poor and unique sidewalk design; and your correct: BUT it was the greed of the City that allowed this design in the first place. Suggestion: The city should remove the sign posts that impinges on the 3' width rules, or should the impacted homeowners do this themselves?

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