Lime fails on bike share

Below is a photo of a Lime/JUMP bike that has been abandoned for three weeks now, parked on my street, P Street, between 13th St and 12th St. It has been reported to the city, twice, and to Lime, three times. And it is still there. Of course the battery has depleted so that GPS no longer works. But Lime knows the last reported location of the bike, before it died.

Let me be clear and blunt. Lime does not give a shit.

This kind of neglect will continue until: 1) the city (and SACOG) holds Lime accountable for managing the bike share fleet, 2) the city or the region gets a real bike share operator, or 3) the city or the region changes to a publicly owned system. The third option is probably the best, because then the city and/or region can manage the bike share system as part of the transportation network, and SacRT can take on some responsibility for the bike share system as a first mile/last mile solution with transit.

Land Park open (car free) roads?

With the exciting news that the closure of a part of JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park will remain permanently closed to private vehicles. This closure was made to provide safe open space during the pandemic, and is only a small portion of the roads in the park. Most of the people who live in San Francisco support this closure to cars (opening to walkers and bicyclists), and most of the people who visit the park from elsewhere (which includes me) also support.

People have started talking about Land Park in Sacramento. I was certainly not the first. This has been an ongoing conversation among advocates for walking and bicycling for years, but it never turned into a movement. Maybe today is the day.

Below is my (modest) proposal for closing some of the roads in Land Park to private vehicles (pdf). There is a small existing closure, of the roadway in from the southeast corner of the park. It has gates that are permeable to bicyclists.

My proposal closes about 53% of the roads in the park, but leaves open roads that access important points such as Fairytale Town and the golf course (if that is important). It also leaves open an east-west route through the park, with ample parking along the roadside, for those who need vehicle access. People who drive are most likely to access the park from Riverside Drive, Land Park Drive, and Freeport Blvd; all those access points remain open.

Of course the use of the term ‘closed to cars’ is really an inversion. Roads that are closed to private vehicles are by nature open to walkers and bicyclists, and so are really ‘open’ to people.

So, what do you think? Constructive comments are always welcome.

a safe and effective transportation system

Many organizations and individuals are deciding to oppose the transportation sales tax measure being proposed for the November 2022 ballot in Sacramento County. The reasons for opposition are many, but previous posts here (Measure 2022) cover significant ones. If the measure does not qualify for the ballot, or does qualify and fails, what then are we to do for transportation? Below are some ideas for a safe and effective transportation system. They are not yet well organized or prioritized.

I acknowledge the contribution of Walkable City Rules by Jeff Speck to this list. If you haven’t read it, please do. I don’t agree with everything he says, but it is the best prescription for correcting our transportation system and healing our cities that I know of. See also Measure 2022: the path not taken.

The realities of climate change and social justice demand a radical redesign of our existing transportation system and radical shift in transportation policies and investments. More of the same, with slight improvements, as the sales tax measure suggests, will not serve our needs now or in the future. See also our racist and classist transportation system.

General

  • all projects must contribute to or be neutral in reaching regional (SACOG) and state goals for reducing VMT and GHG (vehicle miles traveled, greenhouse gas emissions)
  • travel modes will be prioritized as: 1) active transportation (walking and bicycling), 2) transit, and 3) motor vehicles

Equity

  • sales taxes are regressive, and will not be the default mechanism for funding transportation projects
  • travel needs of people who don’t or can’t drive (children, elderly, disabled, choice) will receive at least the same concern and investment as those who do drive
  • at least 60% of transportation investments must serve formerly underinvested communities
  • transportation projects will be selected and designed to meet community needs previously expressed through community engagement; projects will not be selected by transportation agencies or employees
  • anti-displacement measures will be included in all transportation projects
  • no investments will be made in transitioning motor vehicles from fossil fuels to electric or hydrogen, except where formerly underinvested communities need supporting infrastructure; transitioning vehicles away from fossil fuels merely maintains motor vehicle dominance of our transportation system
  • all projects over $10M will require a health impact analysis
  • agencies will educate the public about H+T (housing and transportation) costs as a measure of housing affordability

Policies

  • roadways will be maintained in a state of good repair to serve all travel modes
  • transportation planning will be integrated with land use planning
  • only agencies that acknowledge and plan around induced travel demand will receive transportation funding
  • all transportation agencies must implement a robust complete streets policy which includes frequent, safe crossings of roadways and speed reductions
  • congestion pricing will be considered as a solution in all dense urban areas, to reduce motor vehicle travel and to fund transportation projects; pricing will be based at least in part on vehicle weight, value or emissions
  • cities and counties will not accept responsibility for maintaining local roadways in new developments; therefore, new development must establish reserve accounts to cover ongoing maintenance

Vision Zero

  • all transportation agencies must establish and implement Vision Zero policies in which redesign of roadways is a preferred action
  • at least 25% of transportation funds must be spent on Vision Zero projects
  • all roadway fatalities will be analyzed using a safe systems approach, with required change to the roadway design or use to prevent future fatalities

Roadway Design

  • implement 10-foot or less travel lanes whenever a roadway is repaved; remove striping from local streets
  • all new developments will require a grid street system of one-eighth mile so that the need for arterials and collectors is reduced
  • consider all right-turn-only and left-turn-only lanes for elimination
  • eliminate slip lanes everywhere
  • require signal cycles to be 90 seconds or less
  • eliminate level-of-service (LOS) in transportation planning
  • conversions of one-way streets to two-way streets will be funded; one-way one-lane streets will be considered an acceptable design for local streets and central cities
  • overly wide roadways will be reduced, with unneeded right-of-way returned to adjacent property owners or sold for infill housing
  • rougher pavements such as brick will be considered whenever slower traffic speeds are desired (but crosswalks will be smoother than the pavement)

Traffic Enforcement

  • wherever possible, automated enforcement will be used to enforce vehicle code that protects vulnerable users, rather than direct enforcement by law enforcement officers
  • violations which to do not threaten the safety of other roadway users will be de-prioritized or removed, with reduced fees if maintained
  • temporary or permanent vehicle confiscation will be used for egregious violators of vehicle codes
  • cities and county shall have the authority to do city-wide and county-wide reductions of posted speed limits, with or without corresponding changes to roadway design; redesign is of course preferred

Parking

  • all on-street motor vehicle parking in urban areas will be charged, either through curb metering or though flat fees
  • parking fees will be used to:
    • cover the cost of providing on-street parking construction and maintenance, and parking enforcement
    • improve transportation and economic vitality within the neighborhood that generates them, and therefore will not go into the general fund
  • parking minimums will be eliminated
  • de-couple parking from rent so that car-free renters are not subsidizing renters with cars
  • parking will be managed to maintain a level of availability on every block (similar to the Shoup 85% rule)
  • removal of on-street parking for higher uses such as active transportation, dining, and community spaces will be supported; however, removal of a travel lane rather than removal of parking is preferred
  • remove parking upstream of intersection corners to ensure visibility (daylighting); not needed when curb extensions provide the visibility
  • parking lanes/areas will be maintained to a reduced and less expensive level than roadways

Freeways

  • freeway removal, reduction, or decking will be considered for all freeways
  • new interchanges must be 100% paid for by private development
  • in urban areas, reconnect street networks over or under freeways at no less than one-half mile intervals, and provide pedestrian and bicyclist connections at no less than one-quarter mile intervals
  • managed lanes must be converted from general purpose lanes, not created through capacity expansion

Transit

  • transit performance measures will be developed, with a tentative goal that 80% of the population is served by 15 minute or better frequency bus or rail service, within one-half mile, for at least 15 hours per day on weekdays and 12 hours per day on weekends
  • transit will not be used as a mitigation for roadway expansion or induced motor vehicle travel; transit is a desirable mode in and of itself
  • transit will be funded to at least the equivalent of one-half cent of sales tax
  • dedicated bus lanes or bus rapid transit (BRT) design will be implemented on all high ridership bus routes
  • transit agencies will have flexibility to allocate funds between capital, maintenance, and operations, based on established criteria
  • metered freeway on-ramps serving four or more regular (non-commute) buses per hour will have bus bypass lanes

Sidewalks and Crosswalks

  • sidewalks will be considered an integral part of the transportation network, and therefore maintained by transportation agencies rather than property owners, except where trees or work on private property impacts the sidewalk; buffer strips in which trees are planted will be considered public responsibility
  • sidewalk infill will be considered a primary use of transportation funds, with at least 60% going to formerly underinvested neighborhoods
  • sidewalks with driveway ramps that slope the sidewalk crosswise will be replaced with continuous flat sidewalks, or the driveway eliminated
  • all traffic signals that have a pedestrian signal head will be programmed with a leading pedestrian interval (LPI) of at least 3 seconds
  • required pedestrian-activation will be eliminated (buttons to trigger audible information are acceptable); pedestrian auto-detection will be considered
  • raised crosswalks or raised intersections will be the default design for all reconstructed intersections
  • all crosswalks will be marked, with the possible exception of purely residential areas
  • pedestrian crossing prohibitions will be analyzed and eliminated where not strictly necessary for safety
  • curb extensions, the width of parking lanes and designed to not interfere with bicycling, will be installed whenever intersections are modified or reconstructed

Bicycle Facilities

  • bike facilities on any roadway with a posted speed limit over 30mph must be separated (protected) bikeways
  • bike facilities on any roadway with a posted speed limit over 40 mph must be separated from the roadway
  • roadway design will be used to make bicycle facilities unnecessary on low speed streets
  • design and implement low-stress bicycle networks
  • prioritize filling gaps in the bicycle network
  • re-stripe or re-design roadways so that bike lanes or separated bikeways are not dropped at intersections
  • bike share, and possibly scooter share, will be supported with transportation funds
  • secure, on-demand bicycle parking will be provided at common destinations; bicycle racks will be provided at common destinations and on every block in urbanized areas

Schools

  • school districts will have the authority to close roadways fronting the main entrance to a school, during arrival and dismissal times, in order to increase student safety and protection from air pollutants
  • Safe Routes to School programs or similar will be supported by transportation funds at the local level
  • school districts will be prohibited from building new schools at locations which are not easily accessible via active transportation or transit
  • school districts will prioritize neighborhood schools over magnet schools, in order to reduce travel
  • school districts will develop policies that allow neighborhood schools to remain open under declining enrollment
  • school districts will be responsible for the same transportation demand management requirements placed on any other entity

Thank you if you read all the way through. I realize some of these are radical ideas, but radical ideas make space for more reasonable ideas provided by others. That is part of the purpose of this blog.

and bike lane blockages

Here is one example (of many) of a bike lane blocked by construction, on J Street between 10th Street and 11th Street in Sacramento. There is a major construction project on the south side in the eastern half of the block for a new apartment building. I’ve written about this issue before: J Street needs construction bypass. As construction progresses, the barriers around the site have moved closer to and further from J Street. The last time I was there, only the parking lane (and of course sidewalk) was blocked, but today, the bike lane is blocked again.

J Street bike lane pinches out at construction barrier

There are no signs along J Street warning of the closure ahead, and there is no ‘share the road’ sign. The commonly used, but not official MUTCD or CA-MUTCD, ‘bicycle share the road’ sign is below. This is, at minimum, the sign that should be installed here.

The solution is to either get the construction company to pull the barrier back from the street, returning the bike lane to function, or for a bike lane to replace the right hand travel lane. Since the sidewalk is also blocked, the accommodation can also serve walkers. As you can see from the photo, the left hand general purpose lane is already blocked for a utility work project. That would result in one lane for an unknown period of time, though the utility project seems to be going fairly quickly and might be done within a couple of weeks or less. The city should do a better job of scheduling construction projects so that they aren’t going on both sides of a busy street at the same time!

bikeway blockages

There are active utility projects on 9th Street and 10th Street that have closed parts of the separated bikeways on those streets. Upon noticing this, I thought, no big deal, a few days of work and things will be back. But the closures have been continuing for three weeks now, with no end in sight. It is interesting that the utility work on J Street is moving fairly quickly, but on 9th and 10th, not so much. I am not sure what utilities are being worked on, and whether these are city-led projects with contractors working on city-owned utilities, or whether they are private utilities such as PG&E or communications.

When there is an extended closure of a separated bikeway, more than two days, an accommodation for bicyclists should be provided. I am aware that some bicyclists are willing to ride in the traffic lanes, but the entire point of a separated bikeway is that it needs to work for all bicyclists, including people who are not comfortable riding in traffic. To allow construction to close a bikeway, without any alternative, is a failure on the part of the city. The city is again expressing its favoritism for motor vehicle drivers over bicyclists.

10th Street

10th St at K St bikeway closure
10th St bikeway construction plate

For 10th Street, general purpose lanes should be reduced from two to one, making the other lane a temporary bikeway. Or, remove parking from the left (west) side of the street so as to allow two general purpose lanes and one temporary bikeway.

9th Street, H Street to J Street

9th St at H St bikeway/bike lane closure
9th St at I St bikeway/bike lane

The bike facility on 9th St is not technically a bikeway until it crosses J St, but since it is intended to provide a similar safe route of travel, I’m including it here. Utility work has closed off the bike lane between H St and J St. No alternative has been provided. The solution is to remove one general purpose travel lane and create a bikeway, or remove parking on the right (west) side of the street in order to maintain two general purpose lanes and one bikeway.

9th Street, K Street to L Street

9th St at K St, no signing for bikeway closure
9th St construction materials stored in the bikeway (just south of previous photo)

9th St at Kayak Alley, walkway/bikeway gone

The reconstruction of Capitol Park Hotel, on the east side of 9th Street between Kayak Alley and L Street, has been going on for months. Every time I go by, something has changed about how the roadway is being handled. Today, the safe bikeway and walkway that was there is now gone. Construction has pushed the fence up against what were formerly the barriers that separated the bikeway/walkway from traffic. Today there was a crane filling the space, which may be necessary, but that doesn’t change the clear message that the entire area is now construction zone with stored construction materials.

The section between K St and Kayak Alley is now being used to store construction materials and worker vehicles. The closure of the separated bikeway is not signed in any way; there have been signs here in the past, but they are gone. If you rode the bikeway without realizing it was closed, you would crash into construction materials.

I am not sure whether there is enough space left in the roadway to provide both a separated bikeway and a travel lane. If so, it should be modified for that. If not, the travel lane should be closed until the construction footprint shrinks again to allow the original walkway/bikeway.

It should be noted that the city did not initially provide the walkway/bikeway on 9th Street, and it was only installed after considerably public outcry.

These locations are a fraction of the ones throughout the city where the city has decided that motor vehicle traffic must be accommodated, but walkers and bicyclists do not. The construction guidelines code that the public requested the city develop and implement have been back-burnered because the city has decided to use staff to apply for grants rather than solving current problems on the roadways. I get more frustrated by the city by the day. I don’t really think they care at all. The car-dominated city, which was created by city planners and engineers, is just fine with them.

improving 15th & Q

I live in downtown Sacramento, and walk through the 15th Street & Q Street intersection almost every day, sometimes multiple times a day. On the southeast corner is my favorite coffee shop, Naked Lounge (I drink tea, not coffee, but they have a good selection). I often sit outside watching people and traffic, so I am very familiar with this intersection. Fremont Park is on the northeast corner, and again, I walk through the park pretty much every day. Let me say up front that this is not a high injury intersection that must be fixed soon. There are so many more dangerous intersections in the city to address first, and so many locations where poor engineering and disinvestment and discrimination has left walkers and bicyclists at great risk. But I can start here because I think about it so much.

A photo of the intersection. The trees on the northwest corner obscure the corner and part of what I’m going to talk about. The sidewalk, curb, ramps, and parking on the southwest corner are all new, as this was reconstructed along with the 1430Q apartments and ground floor retail. The other corners have not changed recently. 15th Street is a three-lane one-way street (it should be reduced to two lanes and bike facilities added), and Q Street is a two-lane one-way street with bike lane on the left side. The northwest, northeast, and southeast corners have small radii, meaning tight corners. The southwest has a high radii corner, meaning loose corners. This is new.

15th Street & Q Street, Sacramento

The wide radius corner on the southwest must have been someone’s idea of necessary for trucks turning from Q Street eastbound onto 15th Street southbound. But notice the northeast corner, which is just as likely to have such turning movements, has a small radius corner, and I’ve never seen a problem with trucks turning there.

Three of the corners do not have curb extensions. On the southwest corner, there is a curb and sidewalk extension along 15th Street, running about half way to the alley. Curb extensions (also called bulbouts) extend the curb and sidewalk out over the parking lane, slow drivers due to perceived friction, and shorten crossing distances for people walking. They are a known and frequently implemented safety solution. You can see curb extensions at a number of locations in the central city, though strangely, only about half the reconstructions install them. The extensions also create more sidewalk waiting or queueing space for walkers, important on busy pedestrians intersections such as this.

The southwest corner gets a lot of deliveries, both for the businesses below and the apartments above. The southeast corner has fewer deliveries. Delivery use should be considered in any change that is made at and near this intersection. On 15th Street, there are green 15 minute parking spots, one on the east, primarily for the coffee shop, and two on the west. On Q Street, there is one green spot on the south, along with about two white curb spots. There are no delivery (white curb) zones on the southeast corner. Green limited time parking and white commercial loading zone markings are relatively rare in Sacramento.

While having tea this afternoon, I saw a driver on 15th Street run a red light and almost collide with a Sacramento Fire Department truck turning from Q Street onto 15th Street. Lights, siren, loud horn, makes no difference to some drivers. I see a lot of close calls at this intersection, but have never witnessed a collision. A person sitting nearby mentioned that she works at another coffee shop on J Street, and sees collisons fairly regularly. Those who claim the solution to street safety is solely redesigning streets to slow traffic ignore that there are also drivers who won’t drive safely no matter what. There is nothing about street design that can prevent someone from running a red light, except of course not having a traffic signal there at all (too many traffic signals?).

To make this intersection safer for everyone (walkers, bicyclists, motorists), these changes could be implemented:

  • Paint high visibility crosswalks on the north and south legs of the intersection, similar to what the west and east legs already have. Sacramento is nearly unique in using these split crosswalk patterns, but they are probably as safe as any other high visibility pattern, which are often called Zebra crosswalks.
  • Create red curb offsets for each of the four corners, in the upstream direction. For 15th Street southbound, that means removing the last parking spot before the intersection on the west and east sides. For Q Street eastbound, that means removing the last parking spot before the intersection on the north and south sides. There is already an offset on the north side, and a small offset on the south, but it should be longer. You will notice in the photo above that there is a car stopped illegally in this area on the south side.
  • Immediately install temporary curb extensions on all corners. These extensions would fill the parking lane. Vertical delineators (posts or bollards) and paint (tan or purple is often used) set off this area. Why temporary? Temporary is low cost, and allows observation of how the installations are used by walkers, bicyclists, and drivers. The corner radius actually needed can be determined before any permanent installation.
  • Observe the temporary extensions, and then design permanent extensions with hard curbs and sidewalks. The permanent extensions must consider bike facilities on both Q Street and 15th Street. Q Street up through 14th St has a parking protected separated bikeway on the left side, and it is assumed that this will be continued to the east. 15th Street should have a parking protected separated bikeway on one side or the other, and the city will have to determine which side before installing permanent extensions. The curb and sidewalk extension on the west side of 15th Street south of Q Street may indicate the city has already made that decision, or it may be an oversight.

The photos below show crosswalks and offset locations for the intersection.

Sacramento bike superhighways

As a follow-up to the Sac Transportation & Climate Workshop big idea of bike superhighways, I was curious about how the proposed alignments matched with low income and high minority communities in Sacramento.

The map presented at the workshop is low resolution, but I decided to see if I could reproduce the routes, using a combination of the city’s existing and proposed bike network data, the road network where the proposals didn’t seem to match the bike plan, and just plain guessing. You’ll notice gaps and places where the alignment may not be correct, but overall it provide an good impression of the proposal. It is interesting that some of the on-street low-stress bikeways routes are not in the current city bike master plan.

The demographics data for low income high minority communities is from SACOG’s Environmental Justice Areas. This is just one of many possible comparisons. Population density and employment locations would also be interesting. I don’t know what demographic information the city used to come up with the bike superhighways proposal.

The map is below, and pdf. The red lines are the bike superhighways, the blue lines are the ‘on-street low stress bikeways’ that provide to some degree the connection from the bike superhighways to the central city.

bike superhighways and LIHM areas in City of Sacramento

Does the proposal serve the people who need to be served? Meh. To some degree. The Sacramento Northern Parkway, at upper right, probably does the best. It is an existing separated path (Class 1) that does need upgrades at road crossings but otherwise is ready to go. The Jackrabbit Trail at the upper left does serve high minority areas, but not low income. It is mostly an existing route, with some gaps and several completely unsafe roadway crossings. The south area is a major bikeway desert, of course, due to both city and county disinvestment and transportation discrimination, and this proposal does little to correct that.

Scooters filling bike racks

Here is another antique post that was not posted, but more recent, from 2021. As an update, this is slightly less of a problem today than it was. The city has enforced the requirement that only permit holder Lime (bikes and scooters) can deploy to the racks that were installed by JUMP for the JUMP Bike program. The photo below shows one of those racks. There are also many more scooter and bike parking areas (outlined in white, with symbols, but without racks). With this, I’ve cleaned out my drafts folder.

Rentable scooters, called shared rideables by the city, are thick as flies in Sacramento central city. They are being deployed to bike rack areas, completely filling the racks and leaving no space for bikes. The photo shows a rack with each space occupied by a scooter, no spaces available. It also illustrates a JUMP rack at which other companies are deploying their scooters. These JUMP racks, and the trapezoidal racks, were purchased for the original SoBi and later JUMP systems, and so ‘belong’ to the JUMP/Lime system.

Individuals are free to part their own bike or scooter, or any bike scooter they rent, at these racks, but the other companies are prohibited from deploying to them.

And there are simply too many scooters in some areas, particularly Old Sacramento and R Street. Lime, Bird, Spin, and Razor, are deploying more scooters to high demand areas than can possibly be rented in a day. I assume that they are trying to drive each other out of business so they can dominate and raise prices, which is the business model for all app-based companies. In some ways, a fallout would be good, but in the meanwhile, the huge number of scooters is occupying public space, the sidewalks, and reducing livability.

walking policies for SacCity

Where two previous posts come together (Reset for SacATC and don’t forget the little things) is suggested policies for the City of Sacramento that support walking for many reasons: to protect vulnerable users from drivers, to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and thereby greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), to create a walking-first city where everyone feels safe to walk, and to support infill housing that is the next most important action to reduce GHGs. I’ll make a brief suggestion for a policy that would implement each walking idea.

These are the policies that the Sacramento Active Transportation Commission (SacATC) should be addressing, and then making recommendations to the city council. I’ll be blunt: if SacATC is not addressing these issues, then why does it exist?

The ideas presented are, not in any priority order (numbers for reference only):

1. Mark crosswalks at every intersection. Except in purely residential neighborhoods, these should be zebra design.
Policy: The city will mark (paint) every crosswalk in the city. The standard will be zebra or continental markings (the solid bars), but parallel lines are acceptable at purely residential intersections. Implementation within one year.
Considerations: Yes, this will be expensive to install and to maintain. But the safety benefit makes this a great investment. Since the DMV fails to ensure that drivers understand that every intersection has crosswalks whether marked or not, it is incumbent on the city to mark crosswalks.

2. Daylight intersections by removing parking from within 15 feet of every crosswalk, at least on the near side (far side is a lesser safety benefit)
Policy: Marked parking spots will be removed from within 20 feet of an intersection on the near side. Unmarked parking will be converted to no parking with red curb offsets of 20 feet. The resulting area may be used for shared rideables parking. Where a curb extension is present, parking need not be removed. Implementation within two years.
Considerations: This increases visibility at every intersection by making walkers more visible to motorists (and bicyclists), and making vehicles more visible to people walking. Near side means the first crosswalk at every intersection in the direction of travel. Removal of parking on the far side confers little safety benefit.

3. Re-program traffic signals to create leading pedestrian intervals, everywhere.
Policy: Every traffic signal with a pedestrian signal head will be programmed to offer a leading pedestrian interval (LPI) of at least three seconds. Implementation within one year.
Considerations: The greatest risk walkers face at intersections is right-turning drivers who do not yield to people in the crosswalk. The LPI gives walkers a head start so that they are visible to drivers while the traffic light is still red. State law will soon be changed to allow bicyclists to also use the LPI.

4. Remove or properly label every pedestrian push button. Don’t make walkers play the guessing game. Except at very low use intersections, pedestrian signals should be on auto-recall.
Policy: Every pedestrian push button will either be removed or labeled with its function. Implementation within one year.
Considerations: The presence of push buttons without indication of whether they are necessary to push is a case of clear discrimination against people walking. The city has refused to change signage to indicate whether the push button activates a signal change, triggers an audible warning only, or does nothing at all. In the long run, all pedestrian signals everywhere should be on auto-recall, meaning no push is needed, but this correctly labeling the button is the first step.

5. Remove pedestrian prohibitions which serve traffic flow rather than safety of walkers. This is the majority of them.
Policy: The city will study every instance of a pedestrian prohibition to determine if the prohibition is necessary to ensure safety for people walking. Traffic flow will not be used to justify a prohibition. Each location where the study determines there is no safety benefit for walkers will be removed, crosswalks marked, and appropriate pedestrian signal heads installed. Implementation within three years.
Considerations: Most, though not all, of these pedestrian prohibitions were installed to promote the flow of traffic, not to protect walkers. Studies will result in the removal of most.

6. Install traffic diverters (modal filters) on about one-quarter of all streets, at no less than 1/8 mile intervals. This discourages through-traffic on most streets, and discourages longer driving trips, while being permeable to bicyclists and walkers.
Policy: At every location in the city where a grid street system or alternate travel streets are available, the city will install traffic diverters (modal filters) which require motor vehicles to turn off current street. The interval should be no less than 1/8 mile. This will not apply to designated collector or arterial streets. Implementation within for years.
Considerations: Diverters discourage drivers from traveling long distances on streets which should be low traffic, and they also slow traffic. Diverters are the most effective traffic calming device available. Despite the clear effectiveness of the existing diverters, the city has decided not to install any more. This policy would reverse that unofficial policy. Where a grid street system exists, diverters are completely appropriate. Unfortunately the winding streets and lack of connectivity in the sprawling parts of the city make these impractical.

7. Charge for all street parking, everywhere, even in residential neighborhoods.
Policy: End all free street parking. Charge residents a reasonable fee for a parking permit that covers the cost of maintaining the portion of the street that contains the parking. Set fees for paid parking in such a way that there is always at least one open parking spot on every block. Implement within one year.
Considerations: The city has done much better at managing paid parking, raising rates to more closely reflect (though not fully cover) the actual costs to the city. But outside of paid parking areas, drivers are getting a free ride, which encourages ownership and use of vehicles, contributing to VMT. In residential areas, it is not unusual for a single residence to own multiple vehicles, some of which are rarely used and just take up space that could better be used for other purposes.

8. Reduce speed limits to 20 mph, citywide and all at once, on every street that is not an arterial or collector street.
Policy: The speed limit on all streets that are not collectors or arterials will be reduced to 20 mph. Implementation within six months.
Considerations: The benefits to walkers and bicyclists (and drivers) of lower speeds are well known, reducing the severity of crashes and reducing the likelihood of crashes due to more reaction time. The ’20 is plenty’ movement is becoming widespread. Some argue that changing speed limits without changing roadway design is pointless, but my philosophy is “Yes, and…” – we should be redesigning roadways, but while that work is in progress, we can save lives now by reducing speed limits. It will take some while to change speed limit signs, so simply blocking out the existing 25 number would be acceptable in the interim.

9. Ensure that every construction project that reconstructs sidewalks also installs curb extensions (bulb-outs) where there is a parking lane present. This is not uniformly happening.
Policy: Curb extensions will be required on every corner which is reconstructed for any purpose. Street faces on corners where a bicycle lane is present but parking lane is not present will be excepted. Curb extensions will be designed so as to not interfere with bicycle lanes, and existing or planned separated bikeways. Implementation immediately.

Considerations: Curb extensions, also called bulb-outs, significantly increase safety by shortening crossing distances and by increasing visibility between walkers and drivers. The entity making the change to the sidewalk/corner would be responsible to the extension, though where drainage issues exist, the city might help with partial funding to move or enhance drainage. There are many instances in the city where curb extensions should be installed as part of construction projects, but are not being.

10. Create interim curb extensions with paint and flexible posts.
Policy: At any intersection where a pedestrian fatality or severe injury has occurred within the last ten years, temporary curb extensions created with paint and vertical delineators will be installed. Implementation within one year. Temporary curb extensions will be replaced by permanent concrete curb extensions within ten years.
Considerations: This policy would allow the ‘quick fix’ of curb extensions at relatively low cost, but eventually create curb extensions at all hazardous intersections, city-wide.

11. Take on responsibility for maintaining sidewalks, since they are an integral part of the transportation network.
Policy: The city accepts maintenance responsibility for all sidewalks that are within the public right-of-way. The city will develop a plan for bringing all sidewalks to a state of good repair, with implementation first in low-income neighborhoods.
Considerations: State law allows the city to shirk its responsibility for maintaining sidewalks by shifting the burden unfairly onto adjacent property owners. The result is poorly maintained sidewalks that do not serve the needs of anyone waking or rolling, but particularly discriminate against people with mobility limitations. Some sidewalks are not within the public right-of-way, but this is uncommon.

12. Buy every employee of Public Works and Community Development a copy of Walkable City Rules (Jeff Speck), and hold sessions to develop a new city mission that prioritizes walkers (and bicyclists and transit riders) over private vehicles.
Policy: Buy the books! Implementation immediately. Hold sessions within six months. Develop new mission within one year.
Considerations: Every city employee should be responsible for doing their part to make the city a walkable place where people are safe and welcomed on every street. City employees and politicians have in the past created a car-dominated city where it is unsafe to walk and bicycle, and now is the time to set a new vision and way forward. Note that this does not address the issue that people don’t feel safe walking in some locations, and this is a critically important issue that the city should also address.

don’t forget the little things

The City of Sacramento is going to consider some big, transformative projects Tuesday evening. That’s great. But let’s not forget all the small things they could be doing, but aren’t:

  • Mark crosswalks at every intersection. Except in purely residential neighborhoods, these should be zebra design.
  • Daylight intersections by removing parking from within 15 feet of every crosswalk, at least on the near side (far side is a lesser safety benefit)
  • Re-program traffic signals to create leading pedestrian intervals, everywhere.
  • Remove or properly label every pedestrian push button. Don’t make walkers play the guessing game. Except at very low use intersections, pedestrian signals should be on auto-recall.
  • Remove pedestrian prohibitions which serve traffic flow rather than safety of walkers. This is the majority of them.
  • Install traffic diverters (modal filters) on about one-quarter of all streets, at no less than 1/8 mile intervals. This discourages through-traffic on most streets, and discourages longer driving trips, while being permeable to bicyclists and walkers.
  • Charge for all street parking, everywhere, even in residential neighborhoods.
  • Reduce speed limits to 20 mph, citywide and all at once, on every street that is not an arterial or collector street.
  • Ensure that every construction project that reconstructs sidewalks also installs curb extensions (bulb-outs) where there is a parking lane present. This is not uniformly happening.
  • Create interim curb extensions with paint and flexible posts.
  • Take on responsibility for maintaining sidewalks, since they are an integral part of the transportation network.
  • Buy every employee of Public Works and Community Development a copy of Walkable City Rules (Jeff Speck), and hold sessions to develop a new city mission that prioritizes walkers (and bicyclists and transit riders) over private vehicles.