Sep 14 2012

OPINION: Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Street Recommendations

Bicycle Master Plan, Complete Streets Policy and Pedestrian Master Plan Outlined for Piedmont –

The following letter was sent to PCA:

Dear Members of the Planning Commission and City Council,

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. Several of us are members of Piedmont Connect’s Alternative Transportation working group. Most of us bicycle in or through Piedmont regularly. We are very pleased that Piedmont is undertaking these efforts, and we welcome the opportunity to comment.

Communications: Please add all of the undersigned to the email notification list for the Bicycle Master Plan. Duncan Watry and Tim Rood 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 executed.

New Measure B Funding Criteria: As you are aware, in 2011 the Alameda County Transportation Commission and MTC 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 January 31, 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.

We understand that a joint City Council/Planning Commission session, scheduled for September 18, will address the issue of expanding the consultant’s 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.

Public Process: From discussions with you, we understand that the Council may choose not to appoint a formal Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) 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 include 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 to qualify for funding from the State Bicycle Lane Account (BLA) under the California Bicycle Transportation Act. We expect Piedmont’s BMP to include these components. See Appendix A for a list of these components and our comments and recommendations.

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: : We expect the Bicycle Plan to implement the relevant policies of Piedmont’s adopted General Plan, which states that “[b]icycle travel provides a way to reduce vehicle emissions, promote public health, meet recreational needs, manage congestion, and reduce parking demand.” See Appendix B for other relevant General Plan policies.

Climate Action Plan: We expect the Bicycle Plan to implement the relevant policies of Piedmont’s adopted Climate Action Plan (see Appendix C), including a target of a combined bicycle and pedestrian mode share of 5% of commute trips by 2020 (Climate Action Plan Implementation Measure TL-1.1).

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.

The bike routes depicted in General Plan Figure 4.5 are described as “a starting point for 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 unimproved and dangerous 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 pleasant 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.

Bike Parking: We believe that one way to encourage biking for regular transportation in Piedmont would be to provide more visible and useful bike parking locations, particularly in and around the Civic Center and at the schools.

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 make designated bicycle routes a high priority for repaving to improve bicycle safety. 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, which are proposed for repaving this year while Magnolia is not.

Complete Streets Policy We understand that you anticipate that ACTC will distribute 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.

We expect Piedmont’s Complete Streets policy or ordinance to comply with the requirements of the Complete Streets Act of 2008 (Appendix D) and hope that it will include the ten elements of a comprehensive complete streets policy recommended by the National Complete Streets Coalition (see Appendix E).

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. 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, including traffic calming measures, 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 and traffic calming measures, 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 understand that the Piedmont Unified School District, through its 2009 Green Initiatives Action Plan, has already committed to working with the City of Piedmont to cooperate on the development of Safe Routes to School in Piedmont We encourage the City of Piedmont to actively collaborate with PUSD and to work with non-profit and agency partners to pursue funding opportunities and further this process.

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


Jasmin Ansar
Lynne Bosche
Dave Campbell (Program Manager, East Bay Bicycle Coalition)
Adam Carr
Scott Donahue
Eric W. Downing
Kurt Fleischer
Tom Gandesbery
Len Gilbert
Ryan Gilbert
Katherine Heater
Eric Hsia
Ve and Arthur Hsieh
Kristin Hull
Tammi, Andrew, Clare and Grant Keating
Garrett Keating (Piedmont City Council member)
Christopher Kidd (Board member, California Bicycle Coalition)
Thomas Kronemeyer
Kimberly Moses
Margaret Ovenden
Debbie Pfeiffer
Tim Rood
Hussein Saffouri (President, Berkeley Bicycle Club)
Hope and Larry Salzer
Rick Schiller
Peter M. Sherris
Michael Singer
Terry and Rob Smith
Susan Southworth
Roger Sparks
Sinan Subuncuoglu
Alice Sung
Maryann Tucker
Jukka Valkonen (Chair, Piedmont Park Commission)
Tom Walters
Winifred Walters
Mark Ward
Duncan Watry
Anne Weinberger
Karen Westmont
Keira Williams
Tracey Woodruff
Affiliations are shown for identification purposes only.

Appendix A. Comments on Bicycle Plan Statutory Requirements:

a. Estimated Number of Existing and Proposed Bicycle Commuters Recommendation: We note that existing figures should be available from 2010 Census data. Comparisons to other nearby cities would be helpful to provide context.

b. Land Use and Population Density (map and description) Recommendation: These could be incorporated from Piedmont’s General Plan by reference

c. Existing and Proposed Bikeways (map and description). Comment: 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.

d. Existing and Proposed End-of-Trip Bicycle Parking Facilities (map and description). Recommendation: The BMP should include standards for the development of bicycle parking and outline potential locations for these facilities.

e. Existing and Proposed Bicycle Transport and Parking Facilities for Transportation Connections (map and description). Recommendation: This should include standards for bicycle parking near Piedmont’s bus stops and casual carpool pick-ups.

f. Existing and Proposed Shower Facilities (map and description)

Recommendation: While this provision may not be applicable to Piedmont given the lack of large employers, it could be applicable to City employees. We note that City-owned showers are available in the Piedmont Community Pool locker rooms.

g. Bicycle Safety and Education Programs (description) Comment: We note that such programs are currently offered by the Boy Scouts and East Bay Bicycle Coalition.

h. Citizen and Community Participation Comment: As noted above, we expect and encourage the City to provide multiple avenues for public participation in this effort.

i. Consistency with Long-Range Transportation, Air Quality and Energy Plans

j. Project Descriptions and Priority Listings

k. Past Expenditures and Future Financial Needs Description

Appendix B. Relevant Piedmont General Plan Policies
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.

Appendix C. Piedmont Climate Action Plan Policies
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.

Appendix D. 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.”
Appendix E. Elements of a Comprehensive Complete Streets Policy
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
– 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.

Editors’ Note: The opinions expressed are those of the signers and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.

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