Our Comments on El Cerrito's Active Transportation Plan

Community Open House

Tuesday, June 23rd | 6:30-8pm
City Council Chambers, City Hall
10890 San Pablo Avenue

The City is hosting a Community Open House to provide information about the planning process and review the focus area projects. The Community Open House will include information about providing public comment on the draft Active Transportation Plan and will be an opportunity to provide comments to date.

Our Comments

Here are Bike East Bay’s draft comments on El Cerrito’s Active Transportation Plan. Please let us know what you think.

Some questions to think about as you review the Plan and our comments:

  1. Are the City’s proposed improvements for walking and bicycling enough?
  2. Does it reflect public input to date?
  3. Does it reflect the needs of future bicycling in El Cerrito?

Bike East Bay comments based on page # in the draft Plan:
  1. Page 16: add FHWA Separated Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide to recognized best practices from around the country

  2. Page 31: change the Bike Parking Ordinance Policy to state a commitment to establish an on-street bike parking program. Many cities in the East Bay are doing this and these cities are finding that on-street bike parking corrals are very successful at promoting and supporting local businesses. This proven bike parking facility and program does not need to be ‘considered’ but rather started. More bike parking has several benefits, including slowing traffic and improving safety. But it also encourages more trips by bike, which is good for local businesses in El Cerrito. Placing on-street bike parking corrals adjacent intersections also helps to ‘daylight’ the intersection, improving safety for pedestrians crossing the street in the direction of traffic.

  3. Page 37: El Cerrito should start an annual bike-ped count program. Bike East Bay volunteers are happy to help. Good data on walking and bicycling demonstrates the benefits of investing in improvements but also helps strengthen grant applications and will bring more funding to El Cerrito. Good bike-ped counts will also be needed to measure the City’s progress of doubling walking and doubling bicycling by 2025.

  4. Page 71: the Proposed Bikeway Network should include a cycle track all the way on San Pablo Avenue. This is the only type of facility that is consistent with ‘best practices’ as the plan achieves to meet. Both the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide and the FHWA Separate Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide recognize the need for protected facilities on busy streets, and also document their effectiveness. We recognize that the San Pablo Avenue Complete Street Plan includes sharrows in the downtown section of El Cerrito on San Pablo Ave, but this is a short-term goal. Long-term, Bike East Bay is ready to work with the City of El Cerrito to build an attractive bike facility on San Pablo in the downtown area, connecting with bike lanes to the north in San Pablo and to the south planned in Albany. The Bicycle Plan needs to reflect this long-term goal.

  5. Page 70: the Proposed Bikeway Network relies too heavily on bicycle boulevards and bike sharrows, without providing any guidelines for what these types of facilities include. The entire proposed bikeway network is about 20 miles, and 15 miles of proposed facilities are bikeways where people share the road with moving traffic. In this day and age, that is not exemplary planning. Bicycle Boulevards need traffic calming down to prevailing 15mph speeds, and traffic volumes below 3,000 ADT. The Plan needs to explicitly state this design feature. Whereas well-designed bicycle boulevards are good facilities that we support, sharrows are largely pointless, providing a nominal way-finding function. They don’t encourage more people to bicycle and have been discounted by People for Bikes and NACTO as not being a bicycle facility type, but rather a ‘pavement marking.’ Sharrows are sometimes acceptable as a short-term solution in combination with other more robust solutions, but they are not a stand-alone go to long term solution. A better approach would be to identify the bikeway network by type of user expected to use the facility, and leave the design of the bikeway on that facility for later community outreach and design, at least where the design is not known today.

  6. Page 71: on the Proposed Bikeway Network, Moeser Lane needs bike lanes the whole way. There is a huge east-west gap in the bikeway network from Stockton north to Barrett. That is far too large a gap to provide a usable network.

  7. Page 71: continuing on this point, Wildwood Place also needs bike lanes.

  8. Page 76: great to see the Focus Area Projects, their details and their ability to allow the city to go after grant funding–great work and let’s get started.

  9. Page 88: really good to see so many thoughtful improvements to the Ohlone Greenway crossings of city streets, particularly the idea of reversing stop signs to give priority to the Greenway. These improvements are needed and add to El Cerrito’s already exemplary design for the Ohlone Greenway. However, some additional improvements are needed:

    • Street name signage is needed for the cross streets

    • At all locations where Ohlone Greenway stop signs are converted to “Yield” - consider giving the Ohlone Greenway full priority, with cross street traffic having a stop sign

    • Raise the street level for 100-150 feet in each direction to the level of the Ohlone Greenway/Sidewalk, giving drivers a tactile “heads up” that something unusual is happening. Also, consider pushing for this treatment at Central

      At all other crossings, the traffic control should be at least a “Stop” sign for autos and Greenway users. Thus giving Greenway and Auto traffic equal priority at higher (auto) traffic intersections

  10. Page 98: love the purple bicycle bouleavard signage and great to see this expand beyond Emeryville and Berkeley.

  11. Page 101: sharrows proposed on Fairmont Ave is not a bicycle facility. Either Central Ave or Fairmont Ave needs to have bike lanes, in order to provide useful access to El Cerrito Plaza BART. This will require an analysis of on-street parking and what options are available to repurpose parking for bike lanes. The Bicycle Plan needs to address this issue and include some type of thoughtful plan or process to build bike lanes on Fairmont (or Central, or both) and take into consideration the needs of residents who need to park their cars.

  12. Page 114: it is wonderful to see a goal in the Performance Measure section of the Plan. However, a goal of doubling bicycling in the next 10 years is rather modest. Even so, as you monitor progress towards this goal, the City needs to start doing bike counts in order to measure this goal, or use American Community Survey data, which is known to be limited. In 2013, the ACS shows El Cerrito with a 3.2% bike mode share of primary commute trips. Bike East Bay will assume that this number in 2015 is at least 4%, which means the City’s goal by 2025 is 8%. It would be useful to say this in the Plan. As you monitor progress towards this goal, we believe you may start seeing that incomplete bicycle boulevard designs and sharrows on busy streets, forming 75% of the bikeway network, is not going to move the needle much. What adjustments does the Plan propose if goals are not met?

  13. Consider applying a marked crosswalk recommendation regardless of pedestrian counts similar to Oakland’s Crosswalk Decision Matrix, which recommends them for locations where there is 900 feet or more between existing marked crosswalks. This is useful because long stretches of intersections without marked crosswalks can lead to speeding, and lack of pedestrian counts may be due to the fact that existing conditions do not feel safe at a location despite latent need for accommodation.

  14. Include car parking spot replacement with a bike corral as an opportunity to help daylight an intersection/crosswalk for pedestrians. Include specific guidance for the number of feet a crosswalk needs to be daylighted based on the prevailing car speed on the roadway, especially at intersections along cycletracks. Faster speeds = more daylighting.

  15. Include recommendations for far-side bus stops to include sidewalk bus bulb-outs, and with bicycle channels running behind them when installed on streets with bike lanes.

  16. Include policy for recommended removal and non-use of free right-turn slip lanes (or left-turn slip lanes on one-way streets), or conversion into bicycle-only right turn lanes (eg Oxford/Hearst in Berkeley).

  17. Page 24: Education

    Education Recommendations:

    • Coordinate with Bike East Bay to sponsor bicycle street safety education classes for both school-aged and adult riders and a recreational rides to showcase new bicycle facilities or improvements. Classes may focus on topics such as bicycling skills, theft prevention, bicycle mechanics, learn-to-ride for youth or adults, and more.
    • Encourage the El Cerrito police department to coordinate with Bike East Bay on a “bike traffic school” diversion program, as allowed under law, enabling ticketed bicyclists to attend a free class and have their fine reduced.
     

    Enforcement Recommendations:

    •  Encourage the El Cerrito police department to officially promote and use the free Bike Index registry system, which allows individuals to register bicycle identification info online. This enables users to make a complete police report in the case of a theft, and increases the chance of a recovered bicycle being returned to the owner.

     

    Maintenance and Spot Improvements Policy Recommendations:

     

      • Form an official partnership with the service SeeClickFix to enable residents and visitors to more easily report and track hazards in the public right-of-way, via the free SeeClickFix website or mobile app. This service is currently tracked and used by many East Bay public works departments, and is officially endorsed by the cities of Oakland and Emeryville.

       

      Discourage Unsafe Driving Behaviors Education Recommendations:

       

      • Partner with Bike East Bay to implement a driver-focused bicycle and pedestrian safety education program, targeted toward teen learners, professional drivers, or others apprehended during enforcement activities.
      • Implement a public-facing media campaign focused on safe driving habits with regard to vulnerable road users, and with the intention of branding El Cerrito as a bike/walk-friendly community.

       

      • Promote Bicycle Riding

     

    Here are our draft comments on El Cerrito’s Active Transportation Plan. Take a look and then come to a public workshop…

    Posted by Bike East Bay on Tuesday, June 16, 2015