The City of Sacramento preliminary draft Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) was on the agenda of the 2022-08-16 city council agenda, with a workshop on carbon neutrality. The council had asked staff for a status report, and to bring ideas for accelerating reaching carbon neutrality sooner than the original target date of 2045.
The staff presentation presented a few things that had happened before completion of the plan. Staff focused, as does the plan, on buildings and EVs. Ryan Moore of Public Works talked about transportation projects, but did not mention policy. Jennifer Venema presented several acceleration ideas, but they were vague. One was the build-out of the bicycle master plan, as though it was that, or everything else. The slides used by the staff presentation have not been made available to the public.
Almost everyone who spoke on the agenda items, on Zoom and in person (this was the first in-the-room council meeting), spoke in support of achieving neutrality sooner, and taking serious actions rather than the mild actions suggested by the plan. I am really proud of the citizens and organizations that took the time to formulate thoughtful statements and to wait for their turn.
Some of the council members spoke. Katie Valenzuela was the only one with a substatiative idea (see below), the others just offered platitudes. Darrell Steinberg unfortunately went off on a long rant in support of the transportation sales tax measures, including the lie that it had been amended. The side agreement between SACOG and SacTA has not been approved, and the language of the ballot measure has not changed at all – it is still bad news for the climate.
I made the following statement:
“Transportation is 57% of carbon emissions in Sacramento. Equitable transportation is what we should be talking about.
Transportation priorities, carried over from Mayors Commission on Climate Change:
- Active transportation
- Electrification of remaining motor vehicles
The CAAP seems to invert that priority, and is strongly focused on EVs, which would retain the motor vehicle dominance of our transportation system.
Active transportation should be first and foremost in the CAAP.
Why is active transportation so important to transit? Because that is how people get to and from transit. Both are important to an effective response.
$510M for a full buildout of the bicycle master plan is a fraction of what is already being spent on motor vehicle capacity expansion. For example, the Fix 50 projects is estimated at $433M, but will probably come in much higher.
Deb Banks mentioned that the bicycle master plan needs an update. The pedestrian plan, however, dates from 2006, and is completely out of date. Yet the CAAP does not even mention updating those documents nor combining them into an active transportation plan.”
Some items I missed talking about (two minutes is a very short time):
Bike share is hardly mentioned in plan, and was not mentioned in the presentation. I think an effective bike share system is key to getting people out of cars, but we have a privately owned and operated system that could disappear at any time without notice (as it has before). Bike share should be effectively integrated with the transit system, but this idea is absent.
Cost to consumers (citizens) is also missing from the plan and the discussion. Conversion of fossil fueled private vehicles to electrified private vehicles is a the core action of the plan, with the unspoken and false assumption that electric cars are affordable for the vast majority of people. Think about it like this:
|pedal bike||$500, or less|
|electric bike||$2000, or less|
|electric cargo bike||$4000, or less|
|electric private vehicle||$40,000, or more|
What should the city be supporting? What should the city be subsidizing? It is clear that the bicycle is the right answer. The city seems to have the idea that the people of Sacramento are rich, and will all buy Teslas. How out of touch can you be?
The truly transformative and easily short term action that the city can take to protect that climate is to make walking and bicycling safe, city-wide. In the long run, that involves reconstructing streets, expensive and time-consuming. In the short run, though, there are many, many low cost actions that city could take that mostly have to do with policy and not projects. Such as:
- leading pedestrian intervals on all signals
- removal of pedestrian beg buttons
- prohibiting right turn on red
- paint and post temporary curb extensions on every intersection where a fatality or severe injury has occurred
- acceptance by the city of responsibility for sidewalk maintenance (except for damage caused by trees on private property), in recognition that sidewalks are a core part of the transportation system along with streets
- law enforcement focused on failure to yield to pedestrians
- serious investigations of every crash with fatalities, with action to slow traffic, shorten crossing distances, etc. required in every instance; creation of a crash investigation team that includes nonprofit expertise and citizens, de-emphasizing law enforcement and traffic engineers
- pricing parking everywhere in the city; this does not mean parking meters everywhere, it means that street parking requires a permit that reflects the cost building and maintaining parking on streets
- re-energizing and empowering Vision Zero, which has languished
- replacement of bikeway vertical delineators (soft-hit posts) with hard curbs
- enforcement against leaving trash cans in bike lanes
- a moratorium on roadway capacity expansion projects, through 2045, whether the city is a lead or partner agency; this would include freeways
- lowering speed limit on all urban streets to 20 mph (20 is plenty) and collector/arterial streets to 30 mph; yes, streets need to be redesigned to physically enforce lower speeds, but in the meanwhile we can save lives with lower posted speeds
The bottom line here is that if the city makes walking and bicycling safe, throughout the city, much of our climate targets will be met. Please see my 2019 series “Walkable Sacramento” for more details and more ideas.