Piedmont Getting Organized Around Its 1st Ever Bicycle Plan

If you ride in Piedmont, you can help prioritize their streets for bike improvements. The City of Piedmont is ready to join the other 13 cities in Alameda County and develop a bicycle plan. We are ready to provide a lot of input and you can help.

We are pushing for successful elements of a Bicycle Plan such as a Complete Streets Policy, a Safe Routes to School Plan, Measurable Goals, a specific Implementation Plan, and much more. Read our joint letter below. For now, there are two things we need you to do. What you can do:

  • Contact the City of Piedmont and let them know you want more than $16,000 directed to development of the Bicycle Plan and you want a cooperative public engagement process. Send an email to Kate Black, City Planner, City of Piedmont
, and let the City know how important this new Bicycle Plan is to you and that it is important that Piedmont develop a great Bicycle Plan.
  • Sign up here for our Piedmont Bicycle Plan Mailing List and we will notify you personally about the first public workshop this Fall.
  • Have a look at our joint letter with Piedmont Connect to the City

Letter to City of Piedmont

Piedmonters for Complete and Safe Streets

Ms. Kate Black, City Planner 

Re: City of Piedmont Bicycle Master Plan

Dear Ms. Black,

We, the undersigned, are writing to express our interest in participating in the development of Piedmont’s Bicycle Master Plan (BMP) and related efforts and to share some of our initial thoughts and expectations about the process.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss these matters with you as your schedule permits. Communications:
Please add all of the undersigned to the email notification list for the Bicycle Master Plan. Duncan Watry and I are both happy to respond to inquiries on behalf of the group, which stays in contact via email.

Scope of Work:
 We understand from staff reports that the funding for the BMP is in the approved FY 2012-13 budget and that a proposal has been obtained from Barry Miller, whose fine work on Piedmont’s General Plan we very much appreciate. We would appreciate the opportunity for public review and comment on the proposed scope of work for the bike plan and related efforts, before a contract is brought to Council for execution.

New Measure B Funding Criteria:
 As you are aware, in 2011 the Alameda County Transportation Commission adopted new requirements that apply to the approximately $350,000 annually in Measure B funds that Piedmont receives from Alameda County, as well as Measure F funding, Vehicle License Fee offset funds, and the proposed Measure B increase on the November 2012 ballot. Recipient cities are now required to have adopted a Complete Streets policy by June 30, 2013 and to have adopted a pedestrian (or combined bike/pedestrian) master plan by Dec. 31, 2015.

These efforts (discussed later in this letter) are closely related to the bicycle master plan process and should be coordinated. From speaking with you, we understand that a forthcoming joint City Council/Planning Commission session, possibly in September, will address the issue of expanding the scope of work to include development of a Complete Streets policy and pedestrian/Safe Routes to Schools plan in addition to the bike plan. We look forward to participating in the public discussion of coordinating these important and necessary efforts, and would appreciate being notified of the date of the session when it is scheduled.

Public Process:
 From discussions with you, we understand that the Council may choose not to appoint a formal Bicycle Advisory Committee due to expense considerations, and that public input for the bicycle plan may occur primarily through Planning Commission hearings. With or without a BAC, we believe that bringing about community acceptance of the bicycle plan will require a robust and inclusive public input process, including one or more dedicated public meetings (ideally televised on KCOM) and perhaps an online survey as well. The process should includes multiple avenues for input from bicyclists of all ages and capabilities, as well as from residents, particularly those who live along the proposed routes. If the consultant proposal does not include this level of community participation, we urge that it be amended. Bicycle

Plan Statutory Requirements:
 We understand that California law requires bicycle plans prepared by local jurisdictions to include eleven distinct components in order of qualify for funding from the State Bicycle Lane Account (BLA) under the California Bicycle Transportation Act. We expect that Piedmont’s BMP will include these components:

  • Estimated Number of Existing and Proposed Bicycle Commuters – existing figures should be available from 2010 Census data.
  • Comparisons to other nearby cities would be helpful to provide context.
  • Land Use and Population Density (map and description) – these could be incorporated from Piedmont’s General Plan by reference
  • Existing and Proposed Bikeways (map and description). We note that the route network depicted in General Plan Figure 4.5 is described a “starting point for discussion” and look forward to participating in that discussion along with other Piedmonters and interested parties.
  • Existing and Proposed End-of-Trip Bicycle Parking Facilities (map and description), The BMP should include standards for the development of bicycle parking and outline potential locations for these facilities.
  • Existing and Proposed Bicycle Transport and Parking Facilities for Transportation Connections (map and description) – this should include standards for bicycle parking near Piedmont’s bus stops and casual carpool pick-ups
  • Existing and Proposed Shower Facilities (map and description) – while this provision may not be applicable to Piedmont given the lack of large employers, it could be applicable to City employees
  • Bicycle Safety and Education Programs (description) – we note that such programs are currently offered by the Boy Scouts and East Bay Bicycle Coalition
  • Citizen and Community Participation
  • Consistency with Long-Range Transportation, Air Quality and Energy Plans
  • Project Descriptions and Priority Listings
  • Past Expenditures and Future Financial Needs Description

Policy Context: 
We note that preparing a bicycle master plan is called for as a near-term priority in Piedmont’s General Plan and Climate Action Plan (CAP). We expect the BMP scope of work to reflect the policies of these documents as well as other applicable laws.

General Plan: The General Plan states that “[b]icycle travel provides a way to reduce vehicle emissions, promote public health, meet recreational needs, manage congestion, and reduce parking demand.” The routes depicted in Figure 4.5 are described as “a starting point for discussion.” The following General Plan policies relate to bicycle planning:

  • Policy 10.4: Bike Routes
Accommodate bicycles where feasible on Piedmont streets. Recognize that most streets are not wide enough to accommodate dedicated bike lanes, but that the designation of some streets as “bike routes” (as depicted on the City of Oakland’s Bicycle Plan) could improve connectivity to Oakland and link Piedmont to nearby destinations, including shopping districts, Downtown Oakland, and BART.
  • Policy 10.5: Bicycle Infrastructure
Expand the “infrastructure” necessary to accommodate bicycle travel, including bike racks in parks, at schools, and at public buildings, and adequate space for bicycle storage in residential garages.
  • Action 10.D: Safe Routes to School
Work collaboratively with the Piedmont Unified School District to determine the feasibility of a Safe Routes to School program. Pursue grant funding to initiate such a program and offset local costs.
  • Action 10.E: Bicycle Plan
Contingent on the availability of funding and staff, develop a bike plan which incorporates the route alignments shown in Figure 4.5; outlines safety, maintenance, and education programs; and identifies capital improvements to encourage bicycling in Piedmont. Pursue grant funding and consider use of Measure B funds to prepare and implement such a plan.

Climate Action Plan: Relevant CAP policies include the following:

  • TL 1.1 Expand bicycling & pedestrian infrastructure
  • TL 1.2 Install bike racks
  • TL 3.4 Work with schools to improve/expand walking, Safe Routes to School and trip reduction programs
  • TL 3.5 Public education re reducing motor vehicle-related greenhouse gas emissions

Measure TL 1.1 calls for the preparation and adoption of a Bicycle Master Plan that coordinates with City of Oakland bicycle planning initiatives and sets a target of a combined bicycle and pedestrian mode share of 5% of commute trips by 2020.

The measure reads as follows: “Improving pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure will help reduce GHG emissions, enhance mobility for all ages and abilities, and increase the health and fitness of Piedmont residents. To achieve these multiple benefits, the City will work to improve the community’s pedestrian and bicycle network. Improvements will be made to increase pedestrian, and cyclist safety. Proposed pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure improvements will be based on street types and existing characteristics. Pedestrian infrastructure improvements will consist of additional cross‐walks, sidewalk cuts, and traffic calming elements. Bicycle infrastructure improvements will include development of new cycletracks, Class II bike lanes, and addition of signs to improve cyclist safety. Streets with higher traffic volumes will include cycletracks or Class II bike lanes. Lower volume residential streets will be subject to minor improvements, such as signs and traffic calming features.”

The CAP also recommendations for installing bike racks at bus stops and carpool pick-up sites. Specific Bicycle Issues to Be Addressed:
We anticipate that the BMP process will provide an opportunity for public discussion of the following:

  • Bicycle Network: We believe it is important to plan for the phased and prioritized implementation of a citywide network of bicycle facilities that connects with Oakland’s bikeway network. We also believe it is very important for residents along the proposed bike routes to be included in the public discussion. We have discussed several ideas for fine-tuning and augmenting the proposed bike routes depicted in the General Plan. We believe it is important for the network to include bike routes that serve all of Piedmont’s public schools and major parks, and that connect to Oakland routes linking Piedmont to major destinations, such as shopping districts and BART stations. We believe bike routes serving Wildwood School, Dracena Park and Hampton Field should be added to the proposed network. Bike route connections to the Lakeshore and Montclair shopping districts may also be appropriate.
  • Specific Routes: Grand Avenue, Park Boulevard and portions of Moraga Avenue are all currently difficult and unimproved bicycle routes, which our group has discussed extensively. We believe there are design solutions that could improve pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular safety while making bicycling and walking more comfortable and reducing speeding. These solutions should be investigated for at least preliminary feasibility as part of the BMP process and its implementation. We have spoken with Jason Patton, Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Manager at the City of Oakland, who assured us that he and his staff are looking forward to collaborating with Piedmont staff and citizens on bicycle planning issues across municipal boundaries.
  • Evolving Design Guidance for Bikeways: Best practices and standards for bicycle facilities are fast evolving, and multiple sets of standards are currently in circulation. Several urban designers and planners in our group are familiar with the evolving state of best practices and are eager to share ideas and design concepts, as well as nearby examples of the successful introduction of innovative facility designs.
  • Measureable Goals: The CAP sets a target of a combined bicycle and pedestrian mode share of 5% of commute trips by 2020. We believe the BMP should include a measurable goal for bicycle mode share and a process for monitoring progress toward this goal. Prioritization: We believe the BMP should identify short, medium and long-term priorities.
  • Pavement Condition: One of the most important outcomes of the BMP and Complete Streets Policy should be to ensure that designated bicycle routes are prioritized for repaving. For example, we note that the current pavement condition on Magnolia Avenue, a proposed bicycle route and important route to schools, is far worse than that of other streets, such as Highland Avenue, that are proposed for repaving this year while Magnolia is not.
  • Complete Streets Policy
We understand that you anticipate that ACTC will distributed a model Complete Streets policy or ordinance to jurisdictions later this year. As we recently saw with the community and Council reaction to the proposed Bay-Friendly Landscape Ordinance, model ordinances may not always reflect Piedmont’s unique conditions. We believe the BMP process presents an ideal opportunity to develop and refine Complete Streets policies that are appropriate for Piedmont and to lay important groundwork in rolling these concepts out to the community.
  • Complete Streets Act of 2008: 
The California Complete Streets Act (Assembly Bill 1358) was signed into law in September 2008. It requires that local jurisdictions modify their general plans as follows: “(A) Commencing January 1, 2011, upon any substantial revision of the circulation element, the legislative body shall modify the circulation element to plan for a balanced, multimodal transportation network that meets the needs of all users of the streets, roads, and highways for safe and convenient travel in a manner that is suitable to the rural, suburban, or urban context of the general plan. (B) For the purposes of this paragraph, “users of streets, roads, and highways” means bicyclists, children, persons with disabilities, motorists, movers of commercial goods, pedestrians, users of public transportation, and seniors.” The National Complete Streets Coalition has identified ten elements of a comprehensive complete streets policy, which we support: Includes a vision for how and why the community wants to complete its streets: Pedestrian Master Plan Similar to the bicycle plan, a pedestrian master plan for Piedmont will help to focus pedestrian improvements along highly used routes and set out a community-supported, prioritized vision for future pedestrian improvements.
    • Specifies that ‘all users’ includes pedestrians, bicyclists and transit passengers of all ages and abilities, as well as trucks, buses and automobiles.
    • Applies to both new and retrofit projects, including design, planning, maintenance, and operations, for the entire right of way.
    • Makes any exceptions specific and sets a clear procedure that requires high-level approval of exceptions.
    • Encourages street connectivity and aims to create a comprehensive, integrated, connected network for all modes.
    • Is adoptable by all agencies to cover all roads.
    • Directs the use of the latest and best design criteria and guidelines while recognizing the need for flexibility in balancing user needs.
    • Directs that complete streets solutions will complement the context of the community.
    • Establishes performance standards with measurable outcomes.
    • Includes specific next steps for implementation of the policy

We encourage the consideration of a combined pedestrian/bicycle master plan to ensure that the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists are coordinated.

Safe Routes to Schools
 With so many Piedmont students already walking to school, and the potential to make bicycling to school a safer and more comfortable option in keeping with Piedmont’s policy goals, we believe it is important to coordinate pedestrian and bicycle improvements around our schools with the larger bicycle and pedestrian master planning processes.

We understand that a comprehensive approach to planning for Safe Routes to School could make Piedmont eligible for additional funding for pedestrian and bicycle improvements, as well as raising awareness of traffic issues, physical fitness, and safety in our school community. The Safe Routes to Schools Alameda County Partnership is funded in part by Measure B and includes the Alameda County Public Health Department, Cycles of Change, and many other local agencies and organizations, led by TransForm, a non-profit organization.

The partnership is currently reaching tens of thousands of students at more than 60 Alameda County public elementary schools. We believe the Piedmont Unified School District and the City of Piedmont should cooperate on the development of Safe Routes to School in Piedmont and work with non-profit and agency partners in this effort.

Thank you for your attention, and we look forward to working with you on the Bicycle Master Plan and related efforts.


Signed by over 20 concerned people who ride in Piedmont, and Bike East Bay [names and emails not listed here]