more Sac failure to properly mark/sign ADA for construction

Note: This post was developed in October 2022 but not posted at that time due to an oversight. It is still useful.

There is a new construction project at N St & 14th St in the Sacramento central city, opposite Capitol Park. The project, called Cypress, is a CADA project for multi-family housing, but I do not know the lead construction company. The site has been fenced along N St and 14th St (address is 1330 N St), and across Neighbors Alley. Along N St, the sidewalk is closed at the project, and the crosswalk over 14th St is closed at the southeast corner. Along 14th St, the crosswalk over N St is closed at the north side, and the sidewalk is closed at a property south of the alley.

As is usual for a project permitted by the City of Sacramento, either the traffic control plan was written to allow violation of ADA, or the company has not followed the plan. Or both.

The photos below show the failures.

construction barrier not ADA at 14th St crosswalk
14th St at N St crosswalk, southeast corner, construction barrier not ADA

At this location, the barrier is not ADA compliant. The bottom bar must be no more than six inches from the ground, at bottom, so that it is detectable by a person using a cane. The barrier footing is a trip hazard for both unsighted and sighted persons.

construction barrier not ADA at N St crosswalk
N St croswalk at 14th St, construction barrier not ADA

The situation is the same for the crosswalk over N St at 14th St (Capitol Park is behind the camera), an non-ADA compliant barrier and trip hazard.

N St, construction fence blocking sidewalk, no detectable barrier
N St closed sidewalk, not detectable

Along N St at the construction project, chain link fence is used. There is a sign, but there is no ADA-compliant detectable barrier. The fence is angled, making it doubly difficult for anyone vision limitations. A concrete block fence post holder is likely the first thing a person would encounter, a trip hazard.

sidewalk closed signing and barrier for N St sidewalk
N St sidewalk at 13th St, signing and barrier

At least there is advance warning of the sidewalk closed ahead, as required by ADA, but the barrier on which the sign is mounted is problematic. It does not have a detectable warning, and the base provides a trip hazard for both unsighted and sighted people. A barrier is actually not required at this location, just the sign, but if there barrier is there, it must be ADA complaint.

14th St sidewalk closure, sign but no detectable barrier
14th St sidewalk closure, no detectable barrier

Where the 14th St sidewalk is closed, there is a sign, but there is no detectable barrier. Chain link fence is not a detectable barrier. The fence post base again presents a trip hazard.

14th St at O St no advance warning of closed sidewalk
14th St at O St, probably no advance warning of closure

At the northwest corner of 14th St and O St, there does not seem to be any advance warning of the closure ahead. The sign in the photo belongs to the construction project on the south side of O St, not to this project. It is out of place, and has clearly been backed over by a motor vehicle driver. It is of a different type than the other signing and barricades for Cypress project, so is unlikely to belong to it.

The barriers being used are meant for roadway projects, where they communicate with drivers and do not present trip hazards. They are not meant to be used on sidewalks and crosswalks.

Posting on the failure of construction projects to properly sign and provide ADA detectable barriers, and to accommodate walkers and bicyclists, must seem to readers like beating a dead horse. I’ve posted on such instances a number of times, and have made hundreds of reports to the city 311 system about such failures. Sometimes they get fixed, sometimes not, but usually not until I and others have reported them multiple times. Interestingly, almost all state projects are now compliant from the beginning, whether because they woke up to do the right thing or because of the public’s repeated reports, I’m not sure. The projects approved by the city are almost never compliant.

So, yes, I am beating a dead horse, and that dead horse is the City of Sacramento. And it is beginning to smell.

I am not at all opposed to construction projects, particularly the ones adding housing to the central city. In fact, I’m overjoyed to see housing being put back into the central city, after so much was erased by the city and state earlier on. But construction can be done right, if the city requires it and the construction companies follow through.

See construction zone solutions for background information, and search for other posts tagged with construction.

why are bike lane gaps so important?

My last three posts have been about locations where sharrows replace bike lanes for one-block sections in the Sacramento central city: Sacramento’s worst possible place for sharrows; Sac kill those sharrows on I St; Sac kill those sharrows on H St. There may well be other such locations that did not come to mind. If so, please let me know so I can document and post on them. I’m not asking about locations that should have bike lanes, or where bike lanes should be upgraded to separated (protected) bikeways. There are simply too many of those locations for me to deal with.

So, why are bike lane gaps so important? Bike lanes are basically a promise to bicyclists that the city is providing a safe place to ride your bike. Yes, I know traditional bike lanes have serious safety issues (they are called door zone bike lanes, or DZBLs), but for the average rider, they are safer than no bike lane. But this promise is broken when there is a gap. For these gap sections, bicyclists who felt comfortable riding in a bike lane are suddenly left to deal with motor vehicle traffic in a location where neither the bicyclist nor drivers are sure how to behave. What does the average bicyclist then do? Decide never to ride on that street again. And if they have a scary experience, they may even decide not to ride again at all.

I’m a bicyclist with strong vehicular bicycling skills. I know where the safest place to ride is on every street, and I ride there no matter what motor vehicle drivers or law enforcement happens to think about it. But I am far, far from a typical Sacramento bicyclist. I am ‘strong and fearless’, though as I get older, I’m tending towards ‘enthused and confident’. The four types of bicyclists, or levels of comfort, developed in Portland but applicable to Sacramento, are shown in the graphic:

four types of bicyclists and levels of comfort diagram

The city should be designing bicycle facilities that work for all three categories of people who will bicycle. When there is a gap in a bike lane, the city has designed bicycle facilities that serve the ‘strong and fearless’, only 7% of potential bike riders. This is discriminatory. It is wrong. I suspect that with the resurgence of bicycling and the availability of e-bikes, the ‘no way, no how’ category has shrunk a bit.

The city must close bike lane gaps. Not off in the future when the street is repaved, or when a grant is obtained, but NOW. To do otherwise is to intentionally discourage bicycling and to risk people’s lives.

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!