Bike to School Day

Mariemont Elementary, full bike racks on Bike to School Day

Today, May 9, is the first official Bike to School Day (BTSD).

Mariemont ES in San Juan USD had 78 bicyclists, all wearing helmets.

I’ll be posting more local information as it becomes available, but here are some national posts to get started.

League of American Bicyclists blog: Happy Bike to School Day

Fastlane blog (US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood): First-ever National Bike to School Day gets kids on two wheels–safely

May Is Bike Month

The month has started, and I’m logging my miles at May Is Bike Month, which is for the greater Sacramento region. I’ll be out of town for 10 days this month, so my mileage will be lower than usual, first a trip to Arizona without my bike, and then a backpack trip without my bike, and maybe even a second backpack trip. Oh well.

I’m logging my miles under San Juan Unified School District, my employer, though there are several other connections I have. May is Bike Month also has a Facebook presence, which seems pretty active already.

Arena thoughts

Power Balance Pavilion (red) vs. The Railyards (green)

The SacBee headlined Saturday, “Arena Deal Dead.” I never really cared that much about the idea of a new arena for the Kings. I’m not a big sports fan, and of all the sports, I think that professional basketball is the most boring of them all (not so for college ball). Whether the Kings play in Sacramento or not is a matter of indifference. Mayor Johnson has said that he wants to see a sports and entertainment venue in the rail yards regardless of whether the Kings are there, or in Sacramento at all, but without the anchor tenant and in these economic times, new construction seems unlikely.

However, there are a lot of transportation implications related to the arena that I’d like to comment on. The Power Balance Pavilion (formerly ARCO Arena), located in North Natomas (part of the City of Sacramento, but north of the river and north of I-80) is in a terrible location. Why was it built out here, in the middle of agricultural fields, which have since been converted to bland suburbs? Because the land was cheap, and really for no other reason. Though there is sort of freeway access, it is a long way out from the urban and suburban areas where attendees come from. It is even worse for transit, with only one line serving the area. On weekdays, you can get close on RT route 11, on weekends, nothing even comes close. I once rode my bike to the place and got there well ahead of the bus. Once arriving, you are faced with a sea of ugly parking, with no way to tell where you’ll be directed to park relative to where you want to go. After the event there is a long lasting traffic jam as everyone tries to find their way back out of the parking lot and waits long periods at the signals. I can’t think of a more unpleasant way to start and end some experience at the place. And if you ride, be assured there are no bike racks.

If the RT light rail green line is extended to the airport, there would be a station close to the pavilion. However, this project is so far off into the future that RT has not even projected a service date. So for all intents and purposes, the pavilion must be considered a car-only venue.

Continue reading “Arena thoughts”

Transit Score

I previously wrote about Walk Score and its use in Sacramento, and now the Walk Score company has released Transit Score. Sacramento ranks 22 out of 25 cities, with a Transit Score of 32 (of 100), in the category of “some transit.” The categories are rider’s paradise, excellent transit, good transit, some transit, and minimal transit. It is worth noting that if all the major cities had provided their transit information, Sacramento would probably have not been on the list at all, because with a population of just under a half million, it is not in the usual top 25 but would show up in a top 50.

Walk Score notes “The Transit Score algorithm calculates a score for a specific point by summing the relative ‘usefulness’ of nearby routes. We define usefulness as the distance to the nearest stop on the route, the frequency of the route, and type of route.” As pointed out in the recent Streetsblog post, it does not including information about where you can go once you’ve gotten onto the transit, which also of course affects the usefulness of the transit. Continue reading “Transit Score”

Two-waying streets in SF

StreetsBlog San Francisco had an interesting article yesterday about the conversion of one-way streets to two-way streets, SFMTA Brings Humane, Two-Way Traffic Back to Ellis and Eddy. This is an idea I’ve mentioned before for midtown, but haven’t posted any details yet, and still am not ready yet. But this article builds the justification.

The conversion was the result of an extensive community transportation study, which is detailed at http://www.sfcta.org/content/view/312/159/. The most interesting quote I found in a brief reading of the materials is:

“Much of the auto traffic impacting the Tenderloin is not local traffic. The neighborhood’s unique location adjacent downtown results in large volumes of through traffic to and from the Bay Bridge, the Financial District, and other areas of the City. Many of the roads are designed as auto-oriented, high-capacity facilities, with multiple lanes and one-way configurations. The residents of the area have expressed a strong desire to see the neighborhood’s streets become more livable by shifting the balance away from maximizing auto throughput toward an improved environment for pedestrians and public transit. Slowing traffic speeds or ‘traffic calming’ through the neighborhood is one way to achieve this goal.”

Sound familiar?

There are a number of other great recommendations. Take a read, both of the StreetsBlog post and the underlying study.

SACOG transportation plan

20120420-151331.jpgAn interesting SacBee editorial, SACOG sets high bar on transportation plan.

SACOG is the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, responsible for overall planning and much of the distribution of transportation funds for the region. The plan funds transit, state highways and local roadways, and pedestrian/bicycle facilities. I’ve reviewed the Metropolitan Transportation Plan 2035 (MTP), and think there is still far too much emphasis on road widening, but there are also a lot of new and innovative efforts towards a balanced mode share. Though I personally think any money spent on automobile infrastructure is a waste that we will regret in the future, this is at least the beginning of a shift in priorities.

Avoid the comments on the editorial. The trolls who don’t have jobs and are home during the day, and are likely dependent on public subsidies, have already posted many comments, asking for yet more public subsidies for their preferred lifestyle of cars and suburbs.

Sprawl

20120419-200953.jpgThis week’s Sacramento News and Review (Thursday, April 29, 2012) has a feature story titled “Onward, Sprawl,” highlighting the impacts of the passion for growth of Sacramento County, Folsom, Rancho Cordova, and Elk Grove. I highly recommend a read. The Sacramento Bee has a short article in the Wednesday, April 18 edition titled “County kicks off plan for Hwy 16 growth,” yet another area for development east and south of the developed area of the county.

It will be impossible to serve these new developments with a functional transit system. RT is already not able to serve the sprawling suburbs of Sacramento county, and these developments are much further out from the central cores that contains most of the jobs in this area. Neither light rail nor bus service works when the distances are great and the ridership small, as it would be for these far-flung areas. Driving will increase, more and wider roads will be needed, traffic will be induced, and those people looking for respite from an auto-dominated landscape will feel a need to move even further out, to get away from it all.

Continue reading “Sprawl”

Portland

20120404-224509.jpgI have been in Oregon City, Oregon, for the last few days visiting my friend Tim, as well as Patti who came over to join us from Idaho. We worked together in the Superstition Wilderness in Arizona many years ago.

Monday I spent in Portland while Tim was working. Since I don’t have my bike with me on this trip (I miss it), I was focused more on walking and transit.

I walked all over the downtown area and along the river. Not once did I see a motor vehicle encroach on a crosswalk with a pedestrian in it, which is a common occurrence in Sacramento, though I’m sure it happens. Sidewalks are wide throughout most of downtown, but not on some of the older streets where new development or redevelopment has not taken place. Street furniture is common. In parts of town such as the Pearl District and Chinatown, there are frequent kiosks with maps of the streets and interesting destinations.
Continue reading “Portland”

Co-op relocation

20120402-144029.jpgThe Sacramento Natural Foods Coop is considering relocation to 28th and R streets. As a coop member, I’m interested in how the new location addresses transportation. Though plans are preliminary and vague, here is my reaction to what is available so far on the website at http://www.sacfoodcoop.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1726:store-relocation-update.

  1. The new location is a bit closer to the 29th Street RT Gold Line light rail station. It is about the same distance from the RT bus routes 38, 67, and 68. Transit accessibility is a key locational factor, so this is good.
  2. There seems to be no special consideration for bus riders using the routes on 29th St. There could be a bus bay, large bus shelter, large but landscaped waiting pad, and a clear pathway from the bus stop to the store without having to cross through the parking lot and/or cross the driveway entrance-exit. These might be included and not shown on the generalized drawing, but I rather suspect that they weren’t even considered.
  3. The building is oriented to face the surface parking lot, not to face the street. The message of this orientation is that members who drive are more important than members who live in the community and walk or bike to the store.
  4. Bike parking seems an afterthought. The drawing appears to have 16 bike parking spaces, north of the store entrance, while there are 302 vehicle parking spaces. Common practice in cities with high livability is 20% of all parking for bikes, which would be 60 bike parking spaces. The bike parking area is also further away from the entrance than several non-handicapped spaces, which should never be the case. In the conceptual schematic drawing, the bike parking may be contained in the weird structure that sort of looks like a water tower.
  5. Several news articles in local media and in the Co-op Reporter have emphasized the additional parking but said nothing about bike parking, or other modes of transportation, and I suspect this is not an oversight. Does the staff and board regularly bike to the store, or drive? I don’t know, but the emphasis on parking is an indicator.

Given the stated mission of the co-op, “…consumer-owned natural foods grocery store that places the values of cooperation and sustainability at the forefront. Our focus is to benefit our owners, support our local growers, participate in our community and protect the environment,” every instance of a member or customer driving to the store instead of getting there by active transportation is a step away from these goals.

I hope that the co-op will revise its plans to reach out to people who walk, bike and use transit.