Walnut Creek First Out of the Gate with Complete Streets Policy

Walnut Creek is moving ahead in releasing a draft Complete Streets Policy as part of new regional transportation requirements. On the left here is the minimum that each city needs to approve as part of their Complete Streets Policy. On the right is Walnut Creek’s proposed new policy. Let us know what you think. Some initial thoughts:

  • The all users element is not strong, uses ‘commitment’ language, not ‘will’;
  • No mention of a Walnut Creek Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee having a role, only the Transportation Commission, not good enough!;
  • Performance and Evaluation element is super weak, and only requires review every two years.

Walnut Creek’s plan is to bring this back to the Transportation Commission and then to City Council in December, 2012.

MTC Regional Complete Streets Policy Requirements Walnut Creek’s Proposed Complete Streets Policy
Serve all Users - All transportation improvements will be planned, designed, constructed, operated and maintained to support safe and convenient access for all users, and increase mobility for walking, bicycling and transit use, wherever possible while promoting safe and accessible operations for all users. Complete Streets Serving All Users. The City of Walnut Creek expresses its commitment to creating and maintaining Complete Streets that provide safe, comfortable, and convenient travel along and across all City streets through a comprehensive, integrated, and balanced transportation network that serves all categories of users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, persons with disabilities, motorists, movers of commercial goods, emergency and public service vehicles, users and operators of public transportation, seniors, children, youth, and families within the framework expressed in this policy.
Context Sensitivity – The planning and implementation of transportation projects will reflect conditions within and surrounding the project area, whether the area is a residential or business district or urban, suburban or rural. Project planning, design and construction of complete streets projects should include working with residents and merchants to ensure that a strong sense of place is maintained. Context Sensitivity. In planning and implementing new transportation infrastructure projects, the City of Walnut Creek shall maintain sensitivity to local conditions and shall work with all stakeholders to ensure that a strong sense of place is created, maintained and/or enhanced. Balancing the need to preserve the overall character of the area with the needs to accommodate all potential transportation modes shall be given careful considerations through a transparent system of communication.
Complete Streets in all Departments – All departments in the jurisdiction whose work affects the roadway must incorporate a complete streets approach into the review and implementation of their projects and activities. Potential opportunities could apply to projects such as, transportation projects, road rehabilitation, new development, utilities, etc. Complete Streets Routinely Addressed by All Departments. All City departments whose work affects the condition of the roadway shall incorporate the Complete Streets approach in the review and implementation of their projects and activities. The City of Walnut Creek shall continue using Complete Streets practices as a routine part of everyday operations, approach every relevant project, program, and practice as an opportunity to improve streets and the transportation network for all modes and users, and work in coordination with other departments, agencies, and jurisdictions to maximize opportunities for Complete Streets, connectivity, and cooperation.
All Projects/Phases - The policy will apply to all roadway projects including those involving new construction, reconstruction, retrofits, repaving, rehabilitation, or changes in the allocation of pavement space on an existing roadway, as well as those that involve new privately built roads and easements intended for public use. All Projects and Phases. Complete Streets infrastructure sufficient to enable reasonably safe, comfortable and convenient travel along and across the right of way for each category of users shall be considered for all planning, funding, design, approval, and implementation processes for any construction, reconstruction, retrofit, maintenance, operations, alteration, or repair of City streets including new privately built roads and easements intended for public use.
Plan Consultation –Any proposed improvements should be evaluated for consistency with all local bicycle, pedestrian and /or trans plans and any other plans that affect the right of way should be consulted for consistency with any proposed improvements. Plan Consultation and Consistency. The City’s General Plan continues to serve as the ultimate reference for all maintenance, 1 Draft Complete Streets Policy August 28, 2012 planning, and design of projects and activities affecting the transportation system. Complete Streets policies embedded into the General Plan shall be confirmed within all subsequent interpretations of the General Plan through the adoption of specific plans, Climate Action Plan, Bicycle Master Plan and Pedestrian Master Plan. Further interpretations of the goals and policies within each of the abovementioned documents may be needed at times to craft a balanced complete streets outcome. When such major issues arise, The Transportation Commission may be consulted to guide the planning and overall design direction.
Street Network/Connectivity - The transportation system should provide a connected network of facilities accommodating all modes of travel. This includes looking for opportunities for repurposing rights-of-ways to enhance connectivity for cyclists, pedestrians and transit users. A well connected network should include non-motorized connectivity to schools, parks, commercial areas, civic destinations and regional non-motorized networks on both publically owned roads/land and private developments (or redevelopment areas). Street Network/Connectivity. As feasible, the City of Walnut Creek shall incorporate Complete Streets infrastructure into existing streets to improve the safety and convenience of all users. The City shall coordinate activities with adjacent jurisdictions to create a connected network of facilities accommodating all users.
BPAC Consultation - Input shall be solicited from local bicycle and pedestrian advisory committees (BPACs) or similar advisory group in an early project development phase to verify bicycling and pedestrian needs for projects. (MTC Resolution 875 requires that cities of 10,000 or more create and maintain a BPAC or rely on the county BPAC to receive TDA-3 funds.) Transportation Commission Consultation. The Transportation Commission is the multimodal commission for the City. It is also the outreach board to communicate with all stakeholders to guide the design of all new public and private transportation projects. The engagement of the Transportation Commission early in the planning and design stage will provide an opportunity to provide comments and recommendations regarding Complete Streets features to be incorporated into projects. The Transportation Commission shall review the design principles used by staff to accommodate bicycle, pedestrian and transit modes of travel when reviewing and designing projects.
Evaluation – City will establish a means to collect data and indicate how the jurisdiction is evaluating their implementation of complete streets policies. For example tracking the number of miles of bike lanes and sidewalks, numbers of street crossings, signage etc. Evaluation and Performance Measures. The City will develop a system to inventory and report activities leading towards the design, construction and operation of complete streets. The Transportation Commission will conduct a public hearing once every two years where all stakeholders may provide feedback and propose adjustments.
Process– Plans or projects that seek exemptions from the Complete Streets approach outlined in prior sections must provide written finding of why accommodations for all modes were not included in the project. The memorandum should be signed off by the Public Works Director or equivalent high level staff person. Plans or projects that are granted exceptions must be made publically available for review. Leadership Approval for Exemptions. The Public Services Director is responsible for justifying and documenting any design exception to this Complete Streets Policy. Project exceptions must be documented and made available for public review. Federal guidance on exceptions can be found in the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) design guidance, Accommodating Bicycle and Pedestrian Travel at www.fhwa.dot.gov/….

Post your comments here, or feel free to send your comments directly to Walnut Creek’s Planner, Jeremy Lochirco Thanks for taking a moment to help make Walnut Creek more walkable and more bike able.

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