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File #: 2020-8196   
Type: Regular Agenda Item
Body: Transportation Commission
On agenda: 7/22/2020
Title: Alameda Active Transportation Plan Draft Recommendations
Attachments: 1. Exhibit 1 Alameda ATP Online Map Summary_Ex Conditions_2020, 2. Exhibit 2 Alameda ATP Draft Pedestrian Street Typology, 3. Exhibit 3 Alameda ATP Draft Map Pedestrian Street Typology, 4. Exhibit 4 Alameda ATP Draft Map Pedestrian Overlays, 5. Exhibit 5 Alameda ATP Draft Design Treatment Matrix, 6. Exhibit 6 Alameda ATP Draft Programs and Policies, 7. Presentation, 8. Correspondence

Title

 

Alameda Active Transportation Plan Draft Recommendations

 

Body

 

Transportation Commission

July 22, 2020

Item # 6C

(ACTION)

 

Alameda Active Transportation Plan Draft Recommendations

 

Executive Summary

 

Last year, the City embarked on updating its decade-old Bicycle and Pedestrian Plans as one combined Active Transportation Plan (ATP). The goal of the project, launched in August 2019, is to bring the City’s plans into alignment with current best practices and the City’s existing infrastructure and development, and to create a roadmap for a safer, more walkable and bikeable city.

 

Staff and the consultant last provided a full update to the Transportation Commission in January  2020, when the draft Vision and Goals were presented for input. While there have been some delays due to the coronavirus pandemic, staff has continued to move the project forward significantly. On July 15, staff released draft recommendations for pedestrian infrastructure, the bikeway network, concept plans for three major streets, and active transportation policies and programs. Staff are also asking for input on the draft vision and goals, and prioritization criteria. Through online surveys and virtual meetings, staff will solicit input from the public on the recommendations through August 16. After this input is considered and incorporated, staff and the consultant team will use prioritization criteria to develop an implementation plan. The full draft Plan will then be assembled and presented to the community for input in early 2021, with Council adoption expected in Spring 2021.

 

Background

 

Since last winter, staff and the consultant team have studied the existing conditions for walking and biking in Alameda, and reached out to the community for their ideas, in order to develop the draft recommendations. The consultant team conducted a review of the existing conditions, a level of stress analysis for both walking and biking, and evaluated the potential for biking and walking trips in the city. As part of the Vision Zero Action Plan work, a detailed ten-year collision analysis was prepared which identified “High Injury Corridors,” including for pedestrians and bicyclists.

 

Last winter the community gave feedback on what it is like to walk and bike in Alameda via an Open House that attracted over 150 participants; an online map that received over 2,100 comments (see Exhibit 1 for a summary of this input); the Active Transportation Plan Community Advisory Group; workshops at the Alameda Point Collaborative and Mastick Senior Center; and at numerous existing meetings and events across Alameda. Through this effort, some key themes emerged, including:

                     Parents want their children to be able to walk and bike to school safely​

                     Safety is a priority​

                     Large streets need improvements to help people feel more comfortable walking and bicycling​

                     Many people are concerned about speeding​

                     Existing bike routes do not feel comfortable for most bicyclists ​

                     Improvements to bicycle and pedestrian connections between Alameda and Oakland, and new crossing options, are needed

                     People want to see a combination of infrastructure improvements and programs to improve safety and encourage more people to walk and bike

 

The project team also developed and conducted a statistically-significant community survey in November and December 2019 of 500 community members who are over 16 years old on their walking and biking attitudes. The results of this survey have helped to inform and guide the recommendations for the ATP, and will be posted on the project web page this month, and shared at the next Transportation Commission meeting. Some key data points are:

 

                     56% of Alameda residents regularly take trips by bike, while 92% regularly take trips by walking​.

                     Over half of residents agree they would drive less if biking and walking were safer. ​

                     Over 80% of City residents think Alameda should do more to make it safer to walk across busy streets, and over 70% think Alameda should do more to make it safer for people to bicycle. ​

                     62% say they would bike more if there were safe and connected bicycle lanes, routes and paths.

 

Discussion

 

With this wealth of data and input in hand, the City and its consultants developed draft ATP recommendations. On July 15, the City released the following draft elements:

 

                     Vision and goals

                     Recommended bicycle network

                     Pedestrian infrastructure recommendations

                     Concept plans for Park Street, Webster Street and Lincoln Avenue

                     Policies and programs to advance walking and biking in Alameda 

                     Prioritization criteria

 

All of these documents and maps can be viewed on the project web page: www.ActiveAlameda.org/Recommendations <http://www.ActiveAlameda.org/Recommendations>, and select ones are included here as exhibits. This staff report presents a high-level overview of the draft recommendations and how they were developed.

 

Draft Vision and Goals

A key guiding component of any planning document is the vision and goals. In January, staff brought the draft vision and goals to the Transportation Commission for input. The Commissioners’ feedback was incorporated into the revised draft vision and goals, and staff are now asking for public input on the following:

 

Draft Vision: Alameda is a city where people of all ages, abilities, income levels and backgrounds can safely, conveniently, and comfortably walk, bike, and roll to their destinations, including transit. By prioritizing active transportation, the community is improving public health and safety, mitigating climate change, and enhancing quality of life.

 

                     Draft Goals:

                     Safety: Increase the safety of all people using active transportation.

                     Mode Shift: Increase the percentage of walking and bicycling trips.

                     Connectivity and Comfort: Develop a well-connected network of active transportation facilities that are comfortable and convenient for people of all ages and abilities.

                     Equity: Provide equal access to active transportation facilities for all people in Alameda and ensure that transportation improvements and programs are implemented equitably throughout the city.

                     Community: Promote and inspire safe and fun walking, bicycling and rolling to foster a strong culture of walking and bicycling.

 

Recommended Bicycle Network

A major goal of the ATP is to develop a well-connected, “low-stress” network that is comfortable and convenient for people of all ages and abilities. This recommended network greatly expands on the existing and planned (through 2024) bicycling network, and will increase access to safe cycling across all of Alameda.

 

To develop the recommended network, Toole Design (the project consultant) reviewed the community’s comments, analyzed the existing network, and identified which areas of the city were not well-served, or not served at all, by it. This included identifying places where there were gaps in the network, or a need for a more comfortable, low-stress route.

 

Toole Design made sure that all neighborhoods would be served by the recommended network. They also included recommendations to increase the density of north-south travel options and provide low-stress connections to schools.

 

The facility type recommendations follow best practices in bicycle planning, including guidance from the following nationally recognized guides and the City’s recently adopted design resolution:

                     Federal Highway Administration’s Bikeway Selection Guide

                     National Association of City Transportation Official’s Urban Bikeway Design Guide

                     City of Alameda’s Street Design Resolution

 

Bicycle boulevards play a key role in the recommended network, and in creating a network of low stress facilities across Alameda. These are new to Alameda, but used frequently in premier bicycling cities around the country, including Berkeley, Palo Alto and Portland, Oregon (where they are called neighborhood greenways). Bicycle boulevards are streets with traffic calming where bicyclists share lanes with slow-moving motor vehicles. The boulevards employ traffic calming measures to create streets that are low-speed with low-vehicle volumes, resulting in low-stress bikeways. An important feature is intersection improvements to increase bicyclist safety and comfort. All of these treatments also greatly improve the safety of walking. Given that this is a new facility type in Alameda, a poster describing bicycle boulevards is included on the web page.

 

Multi-use trails are a key part of the active transportation network, and are incorporated as part of both the walking and biking networks. Additionally, the need for enhanced maintenance and widening of trails to bring them up to current best practices is identified, and included in the “Capital Projects” list for major projects and maintenance projects, also found on the web page.

 

Pedestrian Infrastructure Recommendations

The approach to pedestrian infrastructure recommendations was much different than for the bikeway network. It focused on categorizing all streets in Alameda by type, and then providing a matrix of possible design treatments to be considered for these street types. The infrastructure improvements would be implemented either as stand-alone projects, or as a part of other maintenance or larger projects.

 

The first step was to develop a Pedestrian Street Typology (Exhibit 2), categorizing the City’s roadway network into four street types: neighborhood street, neighborhood connector, main street, and commercial or industrial street. These categories are based on the surrounding land uses and street characteristics. A map of the typology applied to all Alameda streets is included as Exhibit 3.

 

Next, four overlays were developed for schools, community destinations, transit and trucks. Only the first two were mapped as part of this effort, and are included as Exhibit 4. For streets with these overlays, more treatments are recommended than would otherwise be used on that street type.

                     Schools: The overlay is the 600 feet surrounding all public and private schools, with the goal of having a higher level of safety and access where more children are walking, biking and rolling. This distance was selected since it aligns with where lower school-based speed limits and school crossings can be considered.

                     Community destinations: These include parks, senior centers, libraries and hospitals. The overlay includes the streets immediately surrounding the destination, with the goal of ensuring that there is high quality access by foot at its perimeters.

                     Transit: This is a dynamic overlay that is the full, current, AC Transit bus network in the City, excluding the school-only routes.

                     Truck: This overlay is the City’s truck route network, as shown in the General Plan.

 

Finally, a matrix of possible design treatments, such as curb extensions, raised crosswalks, and pedestrian-scale lighting, was created which shows the treatments that would be considered for each street type and overlay (Exhibit 5). A separate poster was also developed, illustrating many of these treatments, in case they’re unfamiliar to the community, such a pedestrian hybrid beacon, and is posted to the project web page.

 

Concept Plans for Three Major Streets

Park Street, Webster Street and Lincoln Avenue were identified as longer, and in some cases more complex, corridors where walking and biking access and safety improvements are critical, and more public input is needed to determine what types of changes should be made. These streets were selected for further study based on public requests during this planning effort; earlier requests for safer walking and biking conditions and better access on these streets; and most importantly, the high rates of pedestrian and bicycle collisions on these streets, resulting in them all being “High Injury Corridors,” as defined in our Vision Zero collision analysis.

 

Short, “typical” street segments were selected to study, and two or three concepts were developed for each street. (All can be found on the project web page.) These concepts are being proposed to begin a community conversation on how to make the street safer, more comfortable, and more inviting for people walking and biking. Staff will consider all of the input received, and then develop revised concepts to include in the final Plan, either as ideas needing further study and input, or as recommendations, depending on public input received.

 

                     Park Street: As a commercial street with many destinations, there are many demands for walking and biking on the street. It is also a transit corridor, as well. The ATP identifies that a low stress facility is needed in this area, either on Park or Oak Street. Since Park Street is the more complicated of the two, concepts were developed for this street, to start assessing if there’s support for a low stress facility (separated bike lanes) on Park Street. The other concept presented, of standard bike lanes, would provide bike access, but not be a low stress facility. Therefore, a bicycle boulevard (also a low-stress facility) would be needed on Oak Street.

                     Webster Street: Like Park Street, Webster is also a commercial street with many destinations, and is a major transit corridor. There have been many requests for biking facilities on the street. The ATP identifies that a low stress facility is needed in this area, but unlike Park Street, there are no parallel facilities. The concepts present both separated bike lanes and standard bike lanes.

                     Lincoln Avenue: Three options were developed for this street, and two segments were studied, since the width of the street varies widely. This street was also selected since the Transportation Choices Plan (2018) already identified a project to study a lane reduction on Lincoln Ave.

 

The limits of the improvements along each street are not yet determined. Most likely different portions of the corridor would have modified improvements, depending on their width, land uses and street function.

 

Draft Program and Policy Recommendations

In addition to infrastructure improvements, programs and policies support safe and convenient walking and biking. Many program and policy actions are recommended, grouped according to the draft Plan goals. They address safety, education, outreach, engagement and institutional processes. The draft recommendations are included as Exhibit 6.

 

Prioritization criteria

To help guide the next phase of the ATP development, staff are asking the community to weigh in, at a high level, on their priorities for ATP implementation. All cities must make difficult decisions about how to prioritize projects and where to spend limited funds. When implementing the Active Transportation Plan, one overarching principle that will inform prioritization is equity: making investments in a way that is fair and addresses any historical inequities. Alameda’s Vision Zero policy also requires the City to prioritize safety in all transportation efforts. We are asking the community to rank the following principles: connectivity; safety and comfort; maintenance; and community. The survey can be found on the project web page.

 

Public Engagement Plan

Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic means that the City cannot hold another in-person open house as originally planned. However, community members will have even more methods to provide feedback on the draft recommendations, including:

                     Virtual Open House, Wednesday, July 29, 5:00-6:30pm

                     Listening Sessions on Saturday, August 1 from 10:30 to noon, and Wednesday, August 5 from noon to 1:30pm

                     Web page with online surveys for all draft recommendations

                     Interactive, web-based map of the draft bicycle network

                     Presentations to Commissions, including the Transportation Commission (July 22), and Social Services Human Relations Board (July 23). Presentations have already been made to the Park and Recreation Commission (July 9) and the Commission on Persons with Disabilities (July 15).

 

Staff will also conduct several online focus groups with under-represented communities, and post a limited number of hard copy flyers, to alert the community about this engagement opportunity.

 

The comment period is planned for one month, through August 16.

 

Input from Commissioners

Staff welcome comments on any of the items presented in this staff report and found on the project web page. Staff are also interested in any suggestions for opportunities to collect broad and diverse community feedback during the public comment period, especially during these times when meeting in person is not possible.

 

Financial Impact

 

The City’s approved FY 2019-2021 Transportation Planning Division Budget includes $330,000 to be used towards the consultant contract for the development of the Active Transportation Plan and the Vision Zero Action Plan. These funds come from a mix of Measures B/BB Bicycle and Pedestrian funds, Local Streets and Roads funds and TDA Article 3 local discretionary grant funds.

 

Municipal Code/Policy Document Cross Reference

 

The Transportation Choices Plan (2018) includes two high priority projects that directly call for updating the Bicycle and Pedestrian Plans: Project 2: “Bicycle Master Plan and Design Guidelines Update and Vision Zero Safety Policy/Plan” and Project 9: “Pedestrian Master Plan and Design Guidelines Update and Vision Zero Safety Policy/Plan.”

 

Environmental Review

 

Approval to develop planning documents is statutorily exempt from further review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Section 15061(b)(3), the general rule that CEQA applies only to projects which have the potential for causing a significant effect on the environment. Any future physical changes to the environment or roadway network that requires discretionary action by the City Council or Transportation Commission will be subject to future environmental review.

 

Recommendation

 

Provide input on the Active Transportation Plan draft recommendations.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Andrew Thomas, Director, Planning, Building, and Transportation Department

 

By,

Rochelle Wheeler, Senior Transportation Coordinator

 

Exhibits:

1.                     Active Transportation Plan (ATP) Online Map Summary

2.                     Draft Pedestrian Street Typology

3.                     Draft Map of Pedestrian Street Typology

4.                     Draft Map of Pedestrian Overlays

5.                     Draft Design Treatment Matrix

6.                     Draft Programs and Policies