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File #: 2019-7195   
Type: Regular Agenda Item
Body: City Council
On agenda: 9/17/2019
Title: Recommendation to Approve the Transportation Commission's Recommended Design Concept for a Two-Way Bikeway for the Clement Avenue Safety Improvement Project and Cross Alameda Trail between Grand Street and Broadway. (Transportation 91819)
Attachments: 1. Exhibit 1 - Existing Conditions Memo, 2. Exhibit 2 - Workshop and Survey Results, 3. Exhibit 3 - Bike Lane Option 1, 4. Exhibit 4 - Two-way Bikeway Option 2, 5. Exhibit 5 - Hybrid Bike Lane/Two-way Bikeway Option 3, 6. Presentation, 7. Correspondence - Updated 9-17

Title

 

Recommendation to Approve the Transportation Commission’s Recommended Design Concept for a Two-Way Bikeway for the Clement Avenue Safety Improvement Project and Cross Alameda Trail between Grand Street and Broadway. (Transportation 91819)

Body

 

To: Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

The purpose of this agenda item is to request approval of the Transportation Commission and City of Alameda (City) staff/consultant team’s recommended design concept for the improvement of bicycle, pedestrian and automobile/truck safety on Clement Avenue between Grand Street and Broadway.  If the City Council approves a preferred design concept, the consultant team will be able to complete the environmental review and the final design to allow construction to begin in 2020.

 

BACKGROUND

 

The Clement Avenue Safety Project is a plan for approximately 1.2 miles of Clement Avenue and the Cross Alameda Trail between Grand Street and Broadway to improve conditions for bicyclists, pedestrians and automobiles. Currently, Clement Avenue includes two travel lanes separated in the center by a single set of railroad tracks, which have been temporarily paved over.  The sidewalks are substandard, and there are no facilities for bicyclists.  Exhibit 1 provides information on existing conditions.

 

The existing conditions and vehicles that are moving at speeds in excess of the posted speed limit are contributing to the unsafe conditions on the street.  In the last five years, 68 collisions have occurred along Clement Avenue.  Four of the collisions included a collision between a car and a bicyclist and five collisions involved a car and a pedestrian.  The 68 collisions resulted in four severe injuries.  Although only a small portion of the collisions resulted in severe injuries, three out of four of those severely injured were pedestrians or bicyclists. 

 

The number of pedestrians and bicyclists on Clement Avenue is expected to significantly increase in the near future.  Clement Avenue is an important part of the planned Cross Alameda Trail and serves as a part of the San Francisco Bay Trail since the waterfront along this area is unavailable to the public due to the adjacent U.S. Navy training facility.  The Cross Alameda Trail is currently under construction and when complete will provide a continuous, four-mile cross town trail for bicyclists and pedestrians from the Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal at Alameda Point to the Miller-Sweeney (Fruitvale) Bridge. 

 

In 2018, work was completed on the segment through Jean Sweeney Open Space Park between Constitution Way and Sherman Street. Currently, construction is underway on the portion between Seaplane Lagoon and Constitution Way with an expected completion date of November 2019.  Bicyclists will then be able to travel in a protected two-way path between Seaplane Lagoon and Sherman Street.  In the next year, staff anticipates that the Del Monte project will begin work on the portion between Sherman Street and Entrance Road which will connect to the existing two-way protected bike path along the Marina Cove Park and the adjacent neighborhood to Ohlone Street near Clement Avenue.

 

Clement Avenue also serves the Northern Waterfront Priority Development Area, which is experiencing major redevelopment from industrial and warehousing uses to residential mixed uses with significant new public waterfront parks.  With the redevelopment of the major sites along the corridors such as Alameda Marina, Encinal Terminals, Del Monte, Boatworks and the recently completed Mulberry residential project, the Clement Avenue corridor will serve as the primary road connecting Alameda to the new residential developments and over eight acres of new planned waterfront parks and recreational opportunities in the area.

 

Recognizing that Clement Avenue needs to provide safe access to waterfront neighborhoods, public parks and associated public recreational facilities and services, as well as serve as an important part of the Cross Alameda Trail, the City Council and City staff have recently taken a number of important actions to plan for the future:

 

                     In 2017, the City Council authorized a successful grant application for over $5,000,000 in federal grant funding from the Alameda County Transportation Commission (Alameda CTC) to plan, design and construct this Cross Alameda Trail segment on Clement Avenue between Grand Street and Broadway. 

 

                     In 2018, the City Council approved the Transportation Choices Plan, which lists Clement Avenue as a Vision Zero corridor with a goal to reduce citywide traffic deaths and severe injuries to zero.

 

                     In 2018, the City Council approved an 18-month contract with CDM Smith for design services for the Clement Avenue Safety Improvements Project.  Work on the design concepts began immediately.  The project webpage is www.alamedaca.gov/clement <http://www.alamedaca.gov/clement>.

 

                     By May 2019, City staff and the CDM Smith consultant team began meeting with an Advisory Group of key stakeholders, held a community workshop and conducted a community survey to review the concepts and the staff/consultant team recommendations.  Exhibit 2 shows the results of the workshop and survey effort.

 

                     On July 24, 2019, the Transportation Commission endorsed the staff/consultant team’s recommended two-way bikeway design concept for the 1.2 mile project area with the addition of “sharrows” or shared bike/motor vehicle lane markings in the eastbound travel lane to alert people driving that people bicycling also are allowed to use the motor vehicle lane.

 

DISCUSSION

 

The Transportation Commission and staff’s recommended concept is the two-way bikeway (Option 2 shown in Exhibit 4), which is designed to achieve the following goals:

 

                     Improve safety for all users of the road, including automobile drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists;

                     Provide the safest possible environment for bicyclists and pedestrians on the Cross Alameda Trail;

                     Reduce speeding on Clement Avenue;

                     Support revitalization of the waterfront and support public waterfront access;

                     Maintain adequate truck access and lane widths along the corridor;

                     Remove the abandoned railroad tracks to ensure long-term safety and road quality; and

                     Minimize the loss of on-street public parking.

 

For the purpose of the study, the staff/consultant team prepared three different design concepts for the Clement Avenue portion of the Cross Alameda Trail for public consideration (Exhibits 3, 4, and 5).  All three design concepts achieve some if not all of the project goals.  Existing conditions are provided in Exhibit 1 as a basis for comparison.

 

All the design options include:

 

                     Removal of the railroad tracks;

                     Maintaining two 11-foot wide travel lanes for automobiles and trucks;

                     Widening and improving sidewalks to correct existing substandard conditions;

                     Adding, where possible, curb extensions for pedestrians;

                     Daylighting intersections to provide adequate visibility for pedestrian safety;

                     Adding, where possible, street trees to improve the street experience; and

                     Adding stop signs, where warranted, to improve safety for vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians.

 

The major difference between the design options is in the bicycle facilities. 

 

                     Option 1 provides striped bike lanes on each side of the street (Exhibit 3);

                     Option 2 provides a protected two-way bikeway on the north side of the street (Exhibit 4); and

                     Option 3 provides a protected bikeway from Grand Street to Walnut Street followed by bike lanes from Walnut Street to Broadway (Exhibit 5).

 

When considering the benefits and drawbacks of each design option, the staff/consultant team considered a variety of issues, including bicycle, pedestrian and automobile safety, truck access, on-street parking supply, project costs, climate change goals, traffic reduction goals and Cross Alameda Trail effectiveness.  Nevertheless, when balancing potentially conflicting needs, public safety was the most important consideration from staff’s perspective.  The Safety Element of the General Plan states:

“Ensure that the City prioritizes public safety through the implementation of a Vision Zero policy to reduce annual pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities and serious injuries resulting from collisions with faster moving vehicles and unsafe street design.”

After evaluating the design options, both the Transportation Commission and the staff/consultant team determined that the two-way bikeway (Option 2) was the preferred option for the improvement of this portion of the Cross Alameda Trail.  The Transportation Commission endorsed the two-way bikeway with the addition of “sharrows” or shared bike/motor vehicle lane markings in the eastbound travel lane on the other side of the street in order to alert people driving that people bicycling are allowed to use the motor vehicle lane on that side. 

 

The following discussion describes the rationale for recommending the two-way bikeway as the preferred design.

 

Safety Improvements

As an important segment of the Cross Alameda Trail and the primary arterial serving the new developments and major new waterfront parks along the Northern Waterfront, a significant increase in pedestrians and bicyclists is expected on Clement Avenue.  Currently, Clement Avenue has no bicycle lanes or facilities and the sidewalks are substandard. 

 

Compared to the existing substandard pedestrian facilities on Clement Avenue, all three of the design options represent a significant improvement over the existing conditions.  All three options widen sidewalks and add marked crosswalks, curb extensions, pedestrian refuge islands and curb ramp improvements.  These sidewalk improvements will provide a continuous path of travel along Clement Avenue for people in wheelchairs and limited mobility, and will install sidewalks or a protected walkway where none currently exists.  The Alameda Marina development will widen the sidewalks adjacent to its development on the north side of the street and underground the local electrical distribution lines adjacent to the development, which reduces the number of utility poles and eliminates the lower level power lines.  The high voltage transmission lines and the associated poles will remain.  The two-way bikeway option provides the shortest pedestrian crossing distances, which reduces the risk of pedestrian/motor vehicle collisions.

 

All three design options improve multimodal safety at intersections.  Consistent with recent City Council policy and national and state intersection visibility standards, an estimated ten on-street parking spaces will be removed adjacent to existing intersections along Clement Avenue to improve visibility.  Curb extensions also will help improve visibility between people walking, bicycling and driving as will the all-way stop additions.  In all of the design options, all-way stops are anticipated to be introduced at the Grand Street, Broadway, Schiller Street and Stanford Street intersections.

 

The two-way bikeway option has the greatest potential to reduce the average speed on Clement Avenue to the posted 25 miles per hour as the result of the narrower effective roadway width.  When pedestrians or bicyclists are involved in a collision with an automobile, the speed of the vehicle has a strong correlation to the severity of the injury to the pedestrian or bicyclist.  Although all design options have 11-foot travel lanes, the two-way bikeway option has the narrowest effective roadway width because the bicycle facilities are physically separated from the travel lanes by a parking lane or other physical separation which creates a narrower drive lane for motor vehicles.  In the bike lane option, the travel lanes and the bike lanes provide for a wider area of asphalt because motor vehicle lanes and bike lanes are combined and only separated by paint.

 

The protected two-way bikeway is the safest option for people bicycling.  It places the bikeway on the north side of the street, which is a safer location than the south side, which has more curb cuts and conflict points.  The two-way bikeway has the following safety benefits that are not found in the other design options:

 

                     A protected two-way bike facility is safer than a striped bike lane for bicyclists. It provides a physical barrier between bicyclists and motor vehicles.  A bike lane provides only a painted stripe between the vehicle and the bicyclist.  The protected bikeway also minimizes the risk of “dooring” that occurs in bike lanes when a person in a parked car opens its door into the bike lane.

                     The Cross Alameda Trail is being constructed as a two-way protected bikeway from the Seaplane Lagoon to Grand Street.  Continuing this bikeway from Grand Street to Broadway eliminates the need to transition bicyclists from a protected two-way bikeway to striped bike lanes on either side of the street.  Eliminating the need for a transition reduces the risk of potential conflicts between automobiles and bicyclists at the transition point, especially for children, young people and novice cyclers.

                     The two-way bikeway has the greatest potential to reduce the average speed on Clement Avenue to the posted 25 miles per hour, as the result of the narrower effective roadway width.  When bicyclists and motor vehicles collide, the speed of the vehicle has a strong correlation to the severity of the injury to the bicyclist.

                     The two-way bikeway provides the safest bicycle crossing of the Park Street corridor.  The bike lane and hybrid options provide limited safety improvements for bicyclists crossing at the busy intersection of Park Street and Clement Avenue since these options lack a dedicated bikeway in the eastbound direction.

 

Park Street/Clement Avenue Intersection Operations 

The Park Street/Clement Avenue intersection serves as an important gateway in and out of the City.  The gateway is constrained by the intersection operations on the Oakland side of the Park Street Bridge, congestion on the I-880 main line, and by the four travel lanes on the bridge and on Park Street in Alameda.  When considering how to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety on Clement Avenue at Park Street, the staff and consultant team carefully considered the impact on the operation of the Park Street/Clement Avenue intersection.

 

The protected two-way bikeway requires a modification to the signal timing at Park Street to provide a phase for bicyclists to cross Park Street.  During this phase, no cars would be allowed to cross the bikeway to access the bridge.  At Park Street, the signal cycle would likely be increased from the existing 60 seconds to either 90 seconds or 120 seconds.  Separately, the Park Street Arterial Management project is nearing completion and will seek to improve traffic flow along the entire Park Street corridor.  The addition of a bicycle phase at Clement Avenue is not expected to increase travel times off of Alameda due to the existing traffic capacity limitations across the Park Street bridge in Oakland.

 

The other design options - bike lane and hybrid options - would not include any changes to the signal timing or operations at the intersection, except for those needed for the Park Street signalization project.

 

The staff/consultant team is also recommending the addition of a westbound right-turn pocket in all the design options to better accommodate the high volumes of motor vehicles headed off island in the mornings.  For the two-way bikeway concept, the additional right-turn pocket requires the elimination of parking on the south side of the street whereas some parking is maintained at this location for the bike lane and hybrid options.  Table 1 shows the increase in delay if the turn lane is not provided in the two-way bikeway option. 

 

Table 1: Two-way Bikeway Signal Operations Comparison at the Clement Avenue and Park Street Intersection

 

 

Baseline (No Change to Existing Configuration)

Project: WB Right Turn Pocket

Project: No WB Right Turn Pocket

Cycle Length (seconds)

60

90

120

90

120

Intersection Delay (seconds)

48.5

48.4

49.6

106.4

51.8

Level of Service (LOS)

D

D

D

F

D

95th Percentile Queue Length (feet)

251 EB 324 WB

356 EB 318 WB

456 EB 319 WB

268 EB 438 WB

411 EB 483 WB

WB: westbound; EB: eastbound

 

At Grand Street, the Northern Waterfront Environmental Impact Report anticipates the need for a traffic signal at Grand Street and Clement Avenue with full build out of the area.  At Oak Street, the proposed Boatworks development is expected to trigger the need for a traffic signal at Oak Street and Clement Avenue.  The Clement Avenue safety project would not be constructing these signals.  All design options would benefit from these future traffic signals.

 

Truck Access and Loading

Clement Avenue is a designated truck route.  All the options maintain an 11-foot wide travel lane, which is standard on truck routes.  Out of the 8,300 vehicles per day that travel on Clement Avenue between 83 and 133 are tractor-trailer or semi-trucks, which is less than 2 percent.  These larger trucks have a maximum width of 8.5 feet, which does not include mirrors.

 

The Police Department issues permits for about 12 wide loads per year on Clement Avenue.  These wide loads are between 11 and 14 feet wide, and tend to be scheduled during off-peak times.  For the first six months in 2019, the City received four wide load permit requests along Clement Avenue. 

 

Several businesses along Clement Avenue have advocated for striped bike lanes instead of the two-way bikeway option.  The businesses that rely on large trucks for delivery prefer the striped bike lanes because the trucks can double park in the bike lane for loading and unloading and can use the bike lane as additional roadway space, as needed.  Staff appreciates the needs of the local businesses, but does not agree with the argument that the City should design a bicycle facility that allows large trucks to merge into the bike lane or that requires people on bicycles to swing out of the bike lane and into the motor vehicle travel lane to avoid a truck that has double parked in the bike lane.  Staff is also uncomfortable with a bicycle safety concept that allows trucks to merge into the bike lane, as needed and at any time.  For these same reasons, the protected two-way bikeway is safer than the striped bike lanes for people bicycling.

 

Truck loading and unloading is an important issue.  Adequate loading zones to support local businesses must be provided in whichever design is selected.  The design of these loading zones will need to be done carefully in close coordination with existing businesses on each block that needs a loading zone once a design concept is identified by the City Council.  This work also will require a detail balancing of the needs for on-street parking and the needs for on-street loading zones.

 

On Street Public Parking Supply

Currently, a total of about 300 parking spaces exist along the Clement Avenue corridor between Grand Street and Broadway.  The occupancy rate is approximately 67%, but it varies along the corridor.

 

All the options remove approximately 10 spaces to provide adequate visibility at existing intersections consistent with City Council policy and national and state standards for intersection safety, and remove approximately 55 spaces to enable widening of existing sidewalks to meet Americans with Disability Act (ADA) requirements.  With the loss of these 65 spaces, the occupancy rate could be expected to increase to 82 percent.

 

The striped bike lanes design would not remove any additional spaces. 

 

The two-way bikeway removes an additional 20 spaces to accommodate the protected two-way bikeway and to provide maximum visibility at driveway crossings, which would increase the parking occupancy to approximately 90 percent.

 

The hybrid option removes an additional 10 spaces to accommodate the protected two-way bikeway between Walnut Street and Broadway, which would increase the parking occupancy to 86 percent.

 

Currently, there are no disabled parking spaces along Clement Avenue.  The final construction drawings for whichever design option is selected will include disabled parking spaces on Clement Avenue or on minor streets adjacent to Clement Avenue so as to comply with U.S. Access Board guidelines for on-street disabled parking. 

 

Tree Plantings

All three design options will include opportunities for the addition of street trees on the corridor. Street tree plantings implement the City’s Master Street Tree Plan (2009) and the Climate Action and Resiliency Plan.  Additional trees also improve the pedestrian and bicycling experience and the overall appearance of the street.  The tree species that are recommended in the City’s Master Street Tree Plan for Clement Avenue are the Brisbane box (Tristannia conferta) and the London plane tree (Platanus x acerifolia columbia and yarwood).  City staff received a community member request to plant the columbia version of the London plane tree because it is resistant to more diseases.

 

Since the sidewalks along Clement Avenue are only five feet wide, the staff/consultant team will consider creative ways to add trees, such as in the existing asphalt parking lane between parking spaces and in the buffer between the bikeway and the motor vehicle travel lane. 

 

Of all the design options, the two-way bikeway provides the best opportunities to increase the tree canopy on Clement Avenue due to the space provided for additional trees in the buffer between the bikeway and the motor vehicle lane.

 

Costs

Reconstructing sidewalks, curbs and intersections are the project components that are the most costly to construct.  Since the design options do not differ significantly on these components, the differences in costs between the design options are relatively minor.  Nevertheless, Option 2 is incrementally more expensive, because it includes protection for the two-way bikeway that is not included in the other three options and it includes a more significant improvement at the Park Street crossing than the other alternatives.  City staff does believe that the protected two-way bikeway can be constructed within the project budget.

 

Conclusions

In conclusion, staff is recommending that the City Council endorse the protected two-way bikeway (Option 2).  Staff believes that this design option will provide the safest facility for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists.  As the safest design option, staff also believes that Option 2 will be the most effective at supporting bicycling and walking as a viable and attractive mode of transportation, thus supporting the City’s adopted goals to increase bicycling and to reduce vehicle use, greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion.

 

ALTERNATIVES

 

                     Approve the Transportation Commission’s recommended design concept for a two-way bikeway for the Clement Avenue Safety Improvement Project and Cross Alameda Trail between Grand Street and Broadway

                     As described above, the staff/consultant team considered three different design concepts for the Clement Avenue portion of the Cross Alameda Trail.  City Council may choose any of the design options described above and shown in the exhibits.  If the City Council chooses to maintain existing conditions, the grant funds received for construction of the project would need to be returned and could not be used for any other city need.

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT

 

The City’s 2017-19 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) included the Clement Avenue Safety Improvement project to fund planning, outreach and design totaling $641,000 with $567,000 coming from the grant and $74,000 coming from the City’s Transportation Development Improvement Fund.  The final design and construction phases of the project are expected to total $5.4 million with about $400,000 to complete the final design and the remaining $5 million to construct the project.

 

MUNICIPAL CODE/POLICY DOCUMENT CROSS REFERENCE

 

The Clement Avenue project is consistent with the following City documents and policies:

                     The Safety and Noise Element of the General Plan states: “Ensure that the City prioritize public safety through the implementation of a Vision Zero policy to reduce annual pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities and serious injuries resulting from collisions with faster moving vehicles and unsafe street design.”

                     The Transportation Element of the General Plan lists Clement Avenue as a transit priority street, a bicycle priority street and a truck route, and lists other priorities that are addressed in the Clement Avenue concept such as multimodal, safety and environmental improvements and considering needs for individuals with disabilities. 

                     The City’s Bicycle Plan identifies the Clement Avenue bikeway as a high-priority project.

                     The City’s Pedestrian Plan identifies the Clement Avenue improvements as a medium-priority project.

                     The City’s Transportation Choices Plan lists the Clement Avenue project as a Vision Zero Safety Improvements and Traffic Calming priority.

                     The City’s declared climate emergency in that transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Alameda expected to amount to 70 percent by 2020 and a mode shift to bicycling and walking from motor vehicles would help reduce greenhouse emissions. 

 

ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW

 

Identification of a preferred design concept for further refinement is not “approval of a project” requiring environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act.  Environmental review will be conducted for the concept selected in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).  Caltrans and City approval of the environmental review documents will be required before proceeding to construction.  The environmental document is expected to be a categorical exclusion for NEPA and a categorical exemption for CEQA.

 

CLIMATE IMPACTS

 

Implementation of the project will reduce motor vehicle trips.  Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Alameda expected to amount to 70 percent by 2020.  This project will further the implementation of the following City planning documents: Transportation Choices Plan (2018), Climate Plan (2008), Bicycle Plan Update (2010) and the Pedestrian Plan (2009), which highlight the need for sustainable transportation such as increased bicycling and walking and for the reduction of solo driving so as to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

Approve the Transportation Commission’s recommended design concept for a two-way bikeway for the Clement Avenue Safety Improvement Project and Cross Alameda Trail between Grand Street and Broadway

 

CITY MANAGER RECOMMENDATION

 

The City Manager concurs with the Transportation Commission recommendation.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Andrew Thomas, Planning, Building and Transportation Director

 

By,

Gail Payne, Senior Transportation Coordinator

 

Financial Impact section reviewed,

Elena Adair, Finance Director

 

Exhibits:

1.                     Existing Conditions Memo

2.                     Workshop and Survey Results

3.                     Bike Lane Option 1

4.                     Two-way Bikeway Option 2

5.                     Hybrid Bike Lane/Two-way Bikeway Option 3

 

cc:                     Eric Levitt, City Manager