Bike East Bay Response to Fatal Crash in Pleasanton, June 23, 2016

In Pleasanton on the morning of June 23, a 72-year-old Tri-Valley resident was struck and killed by a driver while bicycling. This is at least the fifth collision involving a person bicycling at the busy intersection of Valley Avenue, Stanley Boulevard, and Bernal Avenue. Our hearts go out to the victim’s family at this difficult time.

It is time to fix this intersection

The Valley Avenue and Stanley Boulevard intersection has long been a gap in the Iron Horse Trail, and for years Bike East Bay and local advocates have been calling for improvements at this location. The Iron Horse Trail extends 30 miles from Livermore to Concord, and is used by many bicyclists to commute, access BART, and for recreation. The vast majority of the trail is a safe, calm bikeway that is welcoming to bicyclists of all ages and abilities. However, there are several glaring gaps where the trail disappears, leaving people to navigate intersections with multiple lanes and high volumes of fast-moving car traffic. Thursday’s fatal collision occurred at just such an intersection.

We at Bike East Bay believe it is high time for the City of Pleasanton to address safety issues at Valley Avenue and Stanley Boulevard that put bicyclists at risk. Tri-Valley residents bicycling through this and all busy intersections should be able to cross quickly and conveniently without risking their lives.

On behalf of our 4,000 members in the East Bay – many of them in Pleasanton – we are asking the City of Pleasanton to take the following actions:

Immediate steps:

  1. Stripe and sign this gap for safer bicycling. Specifically, we are asking for the sidewalk path to be striped with clear bikeway markings, have better signage, and have two ‘cross bikes’ be installed. ‘Cross bikes’ are crosswalks for bicycling, as shown here, and we recommend them for the west and south legs of the intersection to connect the 90-degree turn the Iron Horse Trail makes as it turns east to Livermore. At the southwest corner of the intersection, a queue box for bicyclists waiting for the second leg of the turn a turn would complete the new flow. This area to wait for the next light is preferable to the cramped sidewalk where people currently wait to cross. The picture below shows a modern set of cross bike facilities recently installed in Vancouver, British Columbia.Vancouver BC Burrard & Cornwall.png

  2. Extend bike lanes all the way to the intersection. On westbound Stanley Boulevard, extend the bike lane all the way to Bernal/Valley. Currently, the bike lane stops about 100ft short of the intersection. On eastbound Stanley Boulevard approaching Bernal Ave/Valley, extend a buffered bike lane all the way to the intersection (currently, the bike lane stops well short of the intersection).

  3. Adjust the signal timing. Make sure the green lights are long enough for people on bikes to safely cross this wide intersection.

  4. Formally approve use of the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide and Streets Design Guide. The Pleasanton Public Works Department should adopt the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide and Streets Design Guide for use in designing and building modern bikeways in Pleasanton. We would also like to see city staff regularly attend conferences like the NACTO Designing Cities Conference to learn from the examples of protected bike facilities being constructed around North America.

Long-term steps:

  1. Close the Iron Horse Trail gap on east side of Valley approaching Stanley Boulevard. On the east side of Valley Avenue approaching Stanley Boulevard, continue the wide sidewalk that stops at the railway undercrossing all the way to the intersection. Link to the rest of the Iron Horse Trail to Livermore with a ‘cross bike’. We realize there is significant work involved here. New state transportation guidelines and nearby changes to Stoneridge Drive present the opportunity to reevaluate design at this intersection to improve access for the most vulnerable street users.

  2. Austin TX protected intersection.pngFully protect bicyclists and pedestrians in the southeast and southwest corners of the intersection. The image displayed here is a sample of a protected intersection design that creates safe spaces for bicyclists.

  3. Start planning and building protected bike lanes throughout Pleasanton. Pleasanton has yet to plan or build its first protected bike lane. In the East Bay, three cities have built protected bike lanes and over ten other cities have protected bike lane designs in the works. The future network should be one whose facilities are safe and attractive to residents of all ages and abilities. See a map of a potential protected bikeway network in Pleasanton below, that we would like to see incorporated into the upcoming Bicycle Plan.

  4. Direct more staff resources and funding to build a network of protected bike lanes in Pleasanton. With new Measure BB monies available, Pleasanton is in a position to have a full time transportation professional planning and building a bikeway network. Given the economic benefit of bicyclists’ reduce need for parking, added roadway lanes, or frequent road-surface repair, this added funding is good for the long-term bottom line while improving the health and quality of life of Pleasanton’s residents.

Bike East Bay and Bike Pleasanton have met with Pleasanton city staff and elected officials at this very intersection several times to discuss how to make it safe for bicycling in the short term and how to complete the Iron Horse Trail in the long term. On multiple occasions, local advocate Jim Van Dyke categorized it as “the city’s most dangerous intersection for bicyclists and pedestrians” and communicated concern that a future bicyclist death was likely to occur here. Though he and other residents are frustrated by the delays in addressing the safety concerns at this intersection, we see this moment as an opportunity to look forward at how Pleasanton can prioritize safety and convenience for bicyclists in the future, both short- and long-term.

A vision for the future

Bike East Bay attended Pleasanton’s Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Trails Committee meeting on the evening of June 27. The meeting was extremely well attended, with more than thirty bicycling advocates present to express their concern and commitment to safer bikeways in Pleasanton. Though the mood in the room was one of urgency, advocates were also energized and hopeful about the possible future of Pleasanton’s bicycle network. While the community agreed that an immediate fix for the intersection in question was of the utmost necessity, we also shared a vision for a complete, connected, and protected bikeway system in Pleasanton and throughout the Tri-Valley region. Members of the committee spoke on their commitment to better bikeways and urged bicycling advocates to attend city council meetings and continue their engagement. We will continue working with city staff and local advocates to make this vision a reality.

A vision for the future, with a network of protected bike lanes (green), dedicated paths (brown) and neighborhood bikeways (purple).Pleasanton Bikeways Map.JPG

​The residents of Pleasanton deserve safer streets for bicycling. They deserve specific steps and specific plans by city leaders to improve safety of residents bicycling. They deserve protected bike lanes and protected intersections.

To stay engaged with progress at Stanley Boulevard and Valley Avenue, as well as other intersections throughout the city, join the Bike Pleasanton Facebook group. Visit Bike East Bay’s Updates page to learn more about our work in this and other East Bay cities.