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Rochelle Wheeler
Beth Walukas
Alameda County Transportation Commission
1333 Broadway, Suite 200
Oakland CA 94612

Re: EBBC Comments on the Alameda Countywide Bicycle Plan

Dear Alameda CTC:

Thank you for all of the work you have put into the updates to the Alameda Countywide Bicycle Plan and Pedestrian Plan and your commitment to making these updates a substantial upgrade over the 2006 Plans. We are glad to see many new concepts introduced into these updates, such at much-needed technical assistance, CEQA reform, Complete Streets, CMP reform, and developing new design guides.

Rochelle Wheeler
Beth Walukas
Alameda County Transportation Commission
1333 Broadway, Suite 200
Oakland CA 94612

Re: EBBC Comments on the Alameda Countywide Bicycle Plan

Dear Alameda CTC:

Thank you for all of the work you have put into the updates to the Alameda Countywide Bicycle Plan and Pedestrian Plan and your commitment to making these updates a substantial upgrade over the 2006 Plans. We are glad to see many new concepts introduced into these updates, such at much-needed technical assistance, CEQA reform, Complete Streets, CMP reform, and developing new design guides.

The first three draft chapters were developed through the course of many meetings and a lot of public input, and the Appendixes are robust with useful information. We will be using these materials for years to come in our advocacy work to get more bicycle improvements implemented. We also realize that the process of updating these plans, at least for a while, was coinciding with the development of our Transportation Expenditure Plan, and this certainly put a strain on all of our resources to development these plans.

The draft plans are much improved in many respects. There is obviously a much stronger commitment from Alameda CTC to play more of a lead role in seeing that projects and programs are implemented. This is very much needed and we are glad to see this commitment throughout the chapters of the plan. There is also included a commitment on the part of the Alameda CTC to be a better resource for local cities in terms of policies and technical assistance. Currently, cities need a lot of help delivering projects and this is where we want to see the Alameda CTC hire a professional bicycle/pedestrian civil/traffic engineer whose job it will be to work with cities to get projects ready for funding. Finally, another key part of the draft plans are their expansion and more realistic vision for countywide priorities. Identifying bikeways between cities is a priority, but any bikeway with the potential for significantly increased bike traffic is a priority. The draft plans include business districts, transit stations, and major destinations as priorities and this is as it should be. We are glad to see a move away from a countywide priority network.

The following are our comments of highest concern for improving the draft plans. We made many of these comments at the working group meeting after release of chapters 4 and 5. We also appreciate staff taking those comments into consideration and expressing an interest in significantly improving the Implementation Plan. We are asking for staff to make additional efforts to improve this and other areas of the Plans. We are also still working to develop our own targets and milestones for implementation of these Plans and will appreciate the opportunity to have staff incorporate this input as we move to final adoption of revised plans. Without staff proposing specific measurable targets and milestones for implementation of the plans, we are spending a large amount of time doing the work that consultants could have done on these important components of a robust and realistic bicycle plan. We are happy to do it, but it takes more time than we expected to have to do.

Thank you for your review of these comments and your commitment to meet in the coming weeks to discuss next steps.

Introductory Comments:
The Plan as drafted includes a lot of great information, statistics and historical background and because of this will be a great resource for years to come. Also, the Plan has a substantial cost estimate section, which will be extremely useful when prioritizing projects and programs in upcoming funding cycles. On this note, we feel the cost estimate section should be put into the appendix. As explained herein, the Implementation Chapter should be about steps and action plans for building projects and implementing programs. In addition, the maps and routes included in this update are vastly improved over the 2006 Plan, although they too still need improvement. The Vision, Goals, Performance Measures and Implementation Plan are the main sections of the draft plan that fall short of our expectations and need to be substantially improved in some respects.

General Comments
By comparison to the bicycle plans of cities such as Portland, Minneapolis and Seattle, this plan falls significantly short. We feel our plan should meet or exceed existing plans, particularly existing plans that are a couple of years old. We don’t expect our Plan to surpass the numerical goals or miles of bikeways of other plans. Rather, we expect our Plan to exceed these other plans as a matter of best practices in bicycle plan development. In other words, the bicycle plans of other cities should look to our Plan when their plans are updated. As drafted, this is not going to happen.
• Cover: Portland’s cover is great and states: “A Healthy Community, Vibrant Neighborhoods, and bicycles everywhere”. “A WORLD-CLASS BICYCLING CITY.” Our Cover only says “Alameda Countywide Bicycle Plan.” The Cover should be much more interesting, eye-catching and inviting;
• Portland has a whole chapter on “Making the Case for Investing in Bicycling”, our draft Plan has 3 paragraphs. Can we expand on the need for more bicycle facilities so that this information can be shared with everyone in Alameda County working to improve our transportation system? And so the public can benefit from this information.
• Can we add a foreword from Art Dao and Mark Green stating their commitment to making Alameda County a world-class bicycling community?
• Can we add more color and photos to the Plan? As is, the Plan is very text heavy and not as inviting, exciting and engaging as it could be;

Vision Statement
The Vision section of the Plan needs to go up front as part of the 1st or 2nd Chapter. The Vision Statement part of the Vision itself needs to be the lead item in the Vision section. The Vision section should not start with a historical recount of how we got to where we are at–that can go later. We should start right off with what the vision is. The Portland Plan has a wonderful Vision Statement that is much more extensive then our draft vision statement and its vision includes more than bicycles. Our should too;

Countywide Priorities:
Each major commercial district should also be included in the priority chapter for bikeways. Commercial districts such as Fruitvale, Centerville, San Pablo Avenue need to realized as major destinations for people using bikes.

Performance Measures/Goals:
Can we add Performance Measures about “health” and “economic” vitality of the County? And aren’t the proposed 1st and 3rd Performance Measures really the same?
• Portland has a 5-year goal, an 80% implementation goal and a world-class implementation goal, can we have a strong interim goal?
• Minneapolis’ Bicycle Plan has a goal that 50% of miles of bikeways meet guidelines by 2015 and 100% of miles of bikeways meet guidelines by 2020.
• Chicago’s Bicycle Plan has a goal to use innovative designs to expand and enhance the bikeway network.
• Washington DC’s Bicycle Plan has a goal that 50 miles of DC streets will have better Bicycle Level of Service ratings by 2010 and 100 miles will have better Bicycle Level of Service ratings by 2015.
• Union City even has a goal to complete 25% of its Bicycle Plan by 2020.
Why can’t the Alameda Countywide Bicycle Plan have similar specific and measurable goals? Goals that can help influence budgeting, funding, work plans and priorities for years to come? We are working to develop our own proposals for strong goals and performance measures and will submit that as part of additional comments when we have this ready.

Bicycle Facility Design Standards
The Plan needs to include standards for bike facilities in order to qualify for funding-standards for shared use roadways, bike lanes and separated bike facilities. This is really critical. Portland’s Bicycle Plan recognizes generally four types of facilities: 1) bicycle boulevards, which are low-stress shared roadways with low volumes of traffic and low prevailing traffic speeds; 2) bike lanes; 3) on-road, separated bikeways (cycle tracks) and 4) off-road pathways. Our Plan should do the same and state specifically what types of streets should get which types of bikeways, and make it a goal of the Plan to prioritize building bikeways that satisfy these criteria. We should not be funding any more sharrows, for example, on roadways with 35mph prevailing speeds-it’s a waste of money! We should also not be striping bike lanes that are 12’ parking plus bike lanes on busy streets. It forces people to ride in door zones, which is dangerous. These are just two examples.

The Plan needs an absolute commitment to Alameda County becoming an “innovative” county when it comes to bicycle facility design, including a strategic plan for implementing this goal. Portland has this goal, Chicago now has this goal, New York has this goal. We should at least be following their lead, if not leading ourselves. In connection with this, can the Plan include a statement that Alameda County will develop a Bikeway design guide for the County, and a date for completing this action step? It is absolutely necessary and it takes an agency the size of the Alameda CTC to do this. Each individual city in the county cannot do this themselves. Please commit to developing an innovative bikeway design guide and authorize cities to use it!!!!!
Strategic Implementation Plan:

Action Plan
The Plan needs to include a Strategic Implementation Plan, not a ‘Next Steps.’ Of the 15 high priority projects in the 2006 Countywide Bicycle Plan, only 2 projects have been completed, which underscores the need for a more detailed strategy to deliver projects. The Strategic Implementation Plan should include, at a minimum, a 5 year interim goal, and preferably a 2020 (or 2025) goal and goals for 2040, with emphasis placed on the details for achieving the 5 year goals. It is extremely important for decision makers at the Alameda CTC and in each city to have targets and milestones when making important funding decisions. Currently, the Alameda CTC has no targets for bike/ped projects. We are working to develop our own proposals for a strong Implementation Plan and will submit that as part of additional comments when we have this ready.

Alameda CTC Role:
Can this Plan include specific recommendations on how the Alameda CTC can play a lead role in project development for Bikeway projects included in the Plan? This is the one area we are hearing from many jurisdictions-they need help with project development. Can the Alameda CTC hire a bicycle traffic engineer to assist cities in this area?
How will the Countywide Transportation Plan update in 4 years be influenced by this Plan? Can we include a next step for the specific things we want to see in the CWTP update that come out of this Plan.

Process:
We feel the Working Group cannot be disbanded right after seeing the last two chapters in draft form for the first time? There is still a lot of work to do on the Implementation Chapters and many of the good ‘ideas’ it includes in the Next Steps. The Working Group needs to be involved in the development of this chapter, as well as improving the other chapters. These Plan do NOT have to be adopted in September. There is time to continue working on these Plans for adoption in October or November.
Typos from Pedestrian Plan:
There are several places in the Bicycle Plan where the term ‘Pedestrian Plan’ is used in error. We suggest doing a search and replace throughout to correct this.

Thank you for your thorough consideration of these comments. We look forward to meeting next week.
Sincerely,

Dave Campbell
Program Director
East Bay Bicycle Coalition

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