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Woeful Treat Blvd Bike Plan Needs Help

Author: Bike East Bay

Date: September 21, 2015

A woeful and out-of-date Draft I-680/Treat Boulevard Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan is ready for your review (i.e. wrath), and we need you to provide feedback by an October 9 deadline to fix this Plan. The Plan looks at bike-ped improvements along Treat Blvd near the Pleasant Hill BART Station, between Main St and Jones Rd, with a goal of getting more people to walk and bike in this area proposed for more infill development, particularly walking and bicycling to BART. (See map below).

Staff originally designed an option to remove a travel lane in each direction to provide curbside, buffered bike lanes. Bike East Bay and Bike Walnut Creek met with staff and explained why this was the best option. But after taking a closer look at traffic forecasts, decided they need all eight travel lanes for cars. Staff are not proposing any bike lanes on Treat Blvd, but rather sharrows and a mixed use 10ft wide sidewalk for a segment of the project along the north side of Treat Blvd over 680. Narrow sidewalks are great for dodging pedestrians, and are exactly the type of out-of-date planning from last decade that will not encourage more walking and bicycling. Help us fix this Plan.

What you can do

Here’s Bike East Bay’s Comment Letter on the Plan

Map of Treat Blvd Project

What we want: Separated Bike Lanes

Concept 2 (and Concept 1B) from the Plan both propose converting a travel lane in each direction to separated bike lanes (buffered bike lanes along the curb, in the Plan), which is a great idea. Concept 1B proposes this the entire length of the project, while Concept 2 proposes a combination shared use path and buffered bike lanes westbound and eastbound buffered bike lanes for the full extent of the study area. Both of these options are good designs and will build the type of bikeways that hundreds more central Contra Costa residents will use everyday to access Pleasant Hill BART.

At Treat Boulevard and Oak Road (shown below), Concept 2 partially separates bicyclists from motor vehicles with curbs and islands to reduce the risk of collisions between bicyclists and right-turning vehicles. Channelized right turns at Oak Road and Jones Road would be removed, another needed feature.

Staff rejected Concepts 1B and 2 because reducing Treat Blvd from 8 travel lanes (9 in some sections) to 6 travel lanes with comfortable bike lanes would slow down traffic too much, and cause drivers to have to wait up to 50% as long as pedestrians currently have to wait when using Treat Blvd. Ten years ago, staff’s concerns would sound more inline with other projects, but today in 2015, they are out-of-date. 

This area of Contra Costa County is designated a ‘Priority Development Area,’ which means it is planned for infill development, much like Pleasant Hill BART Transit Village. The goal is to build more walkable, bikeable neighborhoods served by good transit, so that residents do not feel compelled to drive in order to conveniently and safely get around. We know Contra Costa residents want options, and this Plan does NOT provide them.

This is what we want

It is important to note that the Pleasant Hill BART Station has the most bike parking spaces of any station in the BART system and the racks are full. Credit for this largely goes to the Iron Horse Trail and the nice bike-ped bridge over Treat Blvd. It goes to show that if you improve conditions for bicycling, local residents will bike. Having learned this lesson, the cities of Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek have just added bike lanes on Geary Rd, west of Main St, ostensibly to get more people to bicycle to the shopping destinations at Main St, and to bicycle to Pleasant Hill BART. Yet this project cuts them dangerously short of their destinations.

A further shortcoming of this Plan is that it completely fails to study bus service improvements. No mention is made in the Plan of how to move buses more timely on Treat Blvd into and out of the Pleasant Hill BART Station. Recent polling shows that a top priority for local residents is to better coordinate bus service with BART trains. This Plan misses that mark completely. It’s added frustration knowing that this Plan was funded by Transportation for Livable Communities money, which explicitly asks planners to consider transit improvements. 

This Plan has become a poster child for why a new Complete Streets Program is needed in Contra Costa County, and why a new Measure J reauthorization and augmentation is needed to fund these types of comprehensive improvements.

5-Year Collision Data for Treat Blvd

Staff Proposal: Dodge pedestrians and cars

Concept 4 is staff’s compromise proposal, which maintains all 8 (sometimes 9) travel lanes, and many of the right turn slip lanes know to be dangerous for people walking and bicycling. Further, staff propose to implement the project in two phases in order to further minimize any slowing of cars by removing slip lanes. Short-term Phase 1 includes the narrow, north side path between Main Street and Buskirk Avenue and the south side (eastbound) sidewalk extension between Main Street and the I-680 northbound off ramp.

Phase 2 includes more significant traffic signal and intersection layout modifications: (1) At Main Street, two-stage bicycle turn facilities would enhance bikeway connectivity but will require property negotiations and/or retaining walls, (2) at Oak Road, removing the southbound channelized right turn would reduce the weaving of westbound motorists on Treat Boulevard, improving traffic operation and safety. This would require the relocation of signal poles and major curb realignments.

The route to and from the BART station is shown in Figure 5-7, which is an extract of a full size sheet provided in Appendix D. People already bike on both of the indicated routes (red and blue). However, the Phase 2 project would improve conditions for bicycling across and along the east side of Oak Road. If Phase 2 improvements were made, people could still choose to cross Oak Road at Coggins Drive and bike along the west side.

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