Freeport Boulevard Transportation Plan Emerging Design Concepts

City of Sacramento staff (Drew Hart) presented to the Sacramento Active Transportation Commission last Thursday on the Freeport Boulevard Emerging Design Concepts. The presentation slides are here. The city’s Freeport webpage has a lot of background material. A link to the virtual open house on April 28 (tomorrow!) is available. This project and the Northgate project are being supported by the same consultant, so you will notice similarities in the process and graphics.

The northern section, between Sutterville Road to the east and Sutterville Road to the west, should look exactly like the traffic-calmed, complete street to the north. This project on Freeport was successful. There is no reason for five lanes in this section. One lane northbound, one lane southbound, and one left turn lane southbound is all it needs. If traffic backs up at the Freeport and Sutterville Road to the east intersection, then shorten the signal cycle.

The emerging design document skips over the issue of whether four general purpose lanes are even needed. A concept should be presented that reduces general purpose lanes to two, and reallocates roadway width to other modes.

Dedicated right hand turn lanes should be removed everywhere. Dedicated left hand turn lanes should be provided only where traffic studies have shown a clear need, and should never reduce the roadway width for other uses.

Green lanes are shown behind protection for separated bikeways. Since the protection does or should prevent vehicle incursion, the paint is not needed.

Dedicated transit lanes should be considered. Though SacRT has not identified this as a high frequency route in the High Capacity Bus Service Study (Route 62 is 30-minute frequency), reconstruction of the roadway must consider the possibility of dedicated transit lanes and transit supporting infrastructure. Appendix A, available on the project webpage, provides a lot of detail about existing transit stops, which are mostly quite poor.

Some businesses along Freeport have multiple driveways, more than are justified by the amount of vehicle traffic access. Closure and narrowing of driveways should be considered. Since almost every business has parking fronting the street, no on-street parking is needed anywhere. This is poor urban design, but it is the nature of the corridor and could not be corrected without wholesale reconstruction of the corridor.

While separated bikeways are often a good solution, the frequency of driveways might make for poor quality infrastructure. Unless driveways can be closed or reconfigured, separated bikeways may not be the best solution.

Posted speed AND design speed should be considered for reduction. Posted speed is 30 mph from Sutterville Rd (to the east) to Arica Way, 35 mph from Arica Way to Fruitridge Rd, and 40 mph from Fruitridge Rd to Blair Ave. The section from Sutterville Rd (to the east) to Fruitridge Rd should be posted and designed for 25 mph, in recognition of the density of businesses and driveways. The section from Fruitridge to Blair Ave should be posted and designed for 30 mph, as it has a lower density of businesses and driveways, and is adjacent to the airport for a significant distance.

Prioritization of the modes for Sutterville (to the east) and Fruitridge Rd should be:

  • walking
  • bicycling
  • transit
  • motor vehicle

Prioritization of the modes for Fruitridge Rd to Blair Ave should be:

  • bicycling
  • transit
  • walking
  • motor vehicle

Crash/collision map of the Northgate Blvd corridor for pedestrians (walkers) and bicyclists. Data is from SWITRS for the years 2015-2019. (pdf)

map of Freeport Blvd Emphasis with pedestrian and bicyclist crashes

Northgate Boulevard Emerging Design Concepts

Update: Added a crash/collision map at the bottom. Though prevention of pedestrian and bicyclist killed and severe injury is always a top priority, this is not a high risk corridor as compared to many arterials in the city.

City of Sacramento staff (Leslie Mancebo) presented to the Sacramento Active Transportation Commission last Thursday on the Northgate Boulevard Emerging Design Concepts. The presentation slides are here. The city’s Northgate webpage has a lot of background material. A link to the virtual open house on May 11 is available.

I rode Northgate Blvd yesterday to refresh my memory about the street, as I’d not gone that way in a while. So, some comments:

The section of Northgate from Rio Tierra to I-80 is a standard suburban arterial, with low quality development and a completely uninteresting place to be. Changes to the roadway may make it safer, but won’t make it any more interesting or economically successful. The city should not focus on this area. It is unpleasant, and not particularly safe, but leave it be.

The section of Northgate from Rio Tierra to Garden Hwy has serious issues, but I see it as a place that could be transformed into an interesting, welcoming, and vibrant place. The number of small businesses, each with a driveway, is a challenge, but also an opportunity. At least half of the businesses are locally owned. This is not the home of big box and chain stores like much of the suburbs. It IS a place where people could walk if provided a safe and encouraging environment, and there are multiple destinations used by local residents.

I think that this entire segment should have buffered and wide sidewalks. The bike facilities could provide some buffer, but the sidewalk buffer is critical because it allows street trees. This section desperately needs street trees! Of course to be successful, the buffer/planting strip needs to be at least six feet, and the sidewalk at least six feet, but eight-ten foot buffer and eight foot sidewalk would be better. I think that the walking mode should take precedence over all other modes, even bicycling and transit, so whatever right-of-way the buffer and sidewalk needs, it should get. Don’t compromise this away.

I realize this project is at the gathering community input stage. However, diagrams will be used, and I’d like to see the diagrams include significant improvement to the pedestrian environment, wide sidewalks buffered from other modes, with trees in the buffer.

The presentation resulted in a number of questions from commission members about bicycle facilities. One of the ideas that got support is a two-way separated bikeway (or cycletrack) to provide a connection between the Ninos multiple use trail and the American River Parkway multiple use trail (the ‘special section’ in the presentation). There was less agreement about bicycle facilities north of there. One of the ideas is separated bikeways (protected bike lanes). Though of course separated bikeways are the best solution overall, I’m not sure they make sense for the east side of the street. Separated bikeways work best when there are few or no driveways, but there is a huge numbers of driveways here. The west side of the street has far fewer driveways.

There are some opportunities on the corridor for reducing driveways, and certainly some of the driveways can be narrowed to reduce entry and exit speeds. But short of a wholesale revision of the area, most driveways will remain, so the street design must accommodate this fact.

Transit on the part of the corridor between Arden Way and San Juan Road is provided by SacRT Route 13 Natomas/Arden, with a 45 minute frequency on weekdays. The route has a fairly low ridership, but it is a long route of which the Northgate section is a small part.


Crash/collision map of the Northgate Blvd corridor for pedestrians (walkers) and bicyclists. Data is from SWITRS for the years 2015-2019. (pdf)

Take the information about fault below with a huge grain of salt. It is well known that law enforcement officers assume walkers and bicyclists to be at fault, without any serious investigation, and often on the sole word of the driver involved.

Pedestrian (walker):

  • Northgate near Rosin Ct: killed, 60 yo male, unknown detail, no fault, no alcohol
  • Northgate near Ozark Cir: severe injury, 74 yo female, crossing, at fault, alcohol
  • Northgate at Wisconsin: severe injury, 36 yo female with two children, crossing, driver fault
  • Northgate at Peralta: severe injury, 48 yo, crossing Peralta, at fault (very unlikely)

Bicyclist:

  • Northgate near Winter Garden: severe injury, 49 yo male, left turn, at fault
  • Northgate at Bridgeford: killed, 47 yo male, crossing, at fault, alcohol or drug
  • Northgate at Harding: killed, 31 yo female, left turn, at fault
  • Northgate at Garden Hwy: severe injury, 40-44 yo male, broadside, at fault CVC 21453

The intersections of Northgate and San Juan Rd, West El Camino, and Garden Hwy/Jefferson Ave are particularly problematic because they are flared out to accommodate turning lanes, thereby lengthening crossing distances for walkers and creating a walker-hostile environment. Fixing these intersections would probably do more to improve the safety and feeling of this corridor than changes along the corridor.

excess car capacity!

Kevin Dumler posted this to Twitter, and it caused me to pay more attention to all the utility and construction projects going on in the central city that have reduced general purpose travel lanes (car lanes). What follows are some photos of other locations.

10th St past P St, lane reduction two to one
I St past 10th St, lane reduction three to two
J St past 10th St, lane reduction three to two, also parking and bike lane closure
N St past 10th St, lane reduction from three to one (same location as Kevin tweeted)
L St past 12th St, lane reduction from three to one

It is only in this last example, on J Street between 12th and 10th, where there was some congestion. However, no vehicles were being stuck at signals, nor failing to make it through the signal at 11th Street, so this is very minor congestion.

The point, well made by Kevin, is that we have excess capacity for motor vehicles on many of our roadways, particularly three lane roadways, that could better be used for other things, like bike facilities, wider sidewalks, planter strips or wider planter strips. Or even narrowing the street for housing!

(in)complete streets

Note: This is a follow-on to streets – stroads – roads. It will make more sense if you read that one first.

The complete streets concept says that all modes of travel (walking, bicycling, motor vehicles, and transit when appropriate) should be accommodated on streets. The accommodation is accomplished by providing separate spaces for each: sidewalks for people walking, bike lanes for people bicycling, general purpose lanes for people driving.

The concept was and is promoted by the National Complete Street Coalition, now part of Smart Growth America, since 2004. The traffic planning and engineering professions strongly resisted the concept for years, but it now receives at least voice support from most planners and engineers. In California, chances of getting a transportation infrastructure grant are low if it does not at least claim to meet complete streets concepts.

The two biggest weaknesses of the complete streets concept are:

  • No guidelines for the frequency of safe crossings are built into the complete streets concept. It could be, but it is not. So travel along corridors is better, but crossing that corridor may not be any better than it was before.
  • Speed limits are rarely reduced on a reconstructed complete streets. Traffic lanes are often narrowed, and sometimes reduced, in an effort to slow traffic. However, a design that actually enforces a lower speed, and therefore allows a lower speed limit is rarely considered.

FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) recent released a Complete Streets Report to Congress and related webpage. I have not had a chance to look at this in detail, so I don’t know if the federal concept overcomes the weaknesses of the previous complete streets concept. The graphic below was the leading one in the new effort, and was justifiably criticised as presenting an unattractive if sort-of compliant complete street, but some people who have read the document say it is better than this. Streetsblog USA: USDOT Tackles Overlooked Barriers to ‘Complete Streets’ — And Sparks Debate.

FHWA complete streets graphic

Caltrans has a recently adopted Complete Streets Policy. The City of Sacramento has a complete streets policy. Citrus Heights, Elk Grove, Folsom, Rancho Cordova, and the county express support for complete streets concepts in their general plans, and have complete streets projects, but apparently do not have specific policies.

There have been a number of complete streets project already in the Sacramento region, and more are on the way. The proposed Measure 2022 transportation sales tax flags complete streets for much of investment, so it is important to understand what a complete street is and is not. Let me say that a complete street is almost always better than what was there before. A lot of our streets were constructed without sidewalks, or with narrow sidewalks interrupted with utility poles and other obstructions, and lacking curb ramps. Complete streets usually have continuous sidewalks of six feet or more, with fewer (but not no) obstructions, and curb ramps at corners. Almost all of our streets were constructed without any place for bicyclists, so a complete street with bike lanes may be an improvement (though many traffic engineers continue to think that painted bike lanes work on higher speed streets).

I was working partly in the City of Citrus Heights when the Auburn Blvd Complete Streets Phase 1 project was designed and implemented. Indeed, travel along the corridor was much improved, and the road was more welcoming to all modes of travel. But there were no more safe crossings of Auburn Blvd than there were before. The crosswalks were still way to far apart for people to conveniently access the businesses, homes, and schools along the corridor. The speed limit was unchanged, though my perception was that actual speeds were a bit slower.

Nearly all streets that have become, or are proposed to become, complete streets are stroads. Think of a major roadway in the county, and you are picturing a stroad. Making a stroad a complete street does not make it not a stroad. Complete streets projects often forget to answer the most basic questions: what is the purpose of this roadway, and how can we construct it so that it fulfills that purpose? A stroad with sidewalks and bike lanes is still a stroad if the primary function is to move people along the corridor, rather than allow them to be in the corridor.

If the purpose of a roadway is to move a high volume of motor vehicles quickly, a road, then sidewalks and bike lanes probably aren’t appropriate, and those modes should be provided for on parallel routes. If the purpose of a roadway is to provide a place for people and building wealth, a street, then sidewalks and SLOW or no motor vehicle traffic is the only appropriate design. This is often expressed as a place where ‘cars are guests’ and bicyclists mix in with other street users rather than needing an exclusive space.

Yes, I am talking about an ideal here. Almost all of our roadways were designed and function inappropriately. We have a long ways to go, but we at least have to get started by stopping what we are doing wrong, and starting to do it right. The proposed Measure 2022 transportation sales tax largely commits to continue doing it wrong, for 40 years. That is the next post.

streets – stroads – roads

I have been a follower of the Strong Towns blog since 2008, and founding member when it became a formal organization. It has strongly influenced my thinking about transportation, land use, and housing. I recommend to everyone that you check Strong Towns out.

What really got Strong Towns off the ground is the concept of stroad, a roadway which is neither a street nor a road, but something in between. As is said, it is the futon of roadways, something that is neither a comfortable bed nor a comfortable couch. Strong Towns defines streets and roads as follows:

  • Streets: The function of a street is to serve as a platform for building wealth. On a street, we’re attempting to grow the complex ecosystem of businesses and homes that produces community wealth. In these environments, people (outside of their automobiles) are the indicator species of success. Successful streets are environments where humans and human interaction flourish.
  • Roads: In contrast, the function of a road is to connect productive places to one another. You can think of a road as a refinement of the railroad — a road on rails — where people board in one place, depart in another and there is a high speed connection between the two.
from Strong Towns, Matthias Leyer, https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2015/5/28/7q1s8gg7h11w0y9rlxrvxy7ow1zd6u

In the Sacramento region, and really almost everywhere, streets designated as arterials and most collectors (in the Functional Classification System) are stroads. They have speeds too high for people to be safe and comfortable. They are often called traffic sewers, that flush traffic in and out of central cities every day. But they are also populated by businesses and public amenities such as schools, with so many driveways and turning movements that they can’t possibly function as high speed roads.

The reason this concept is so important right now is that transportation agencies try to make stroads better by turning them into ‘complete streets’ but do so with a poor understanding of the difference between a street and a road, leaving roadways that accommodate all modes (walking, bicycling, motor vehicles) but still don’t really work. Most complete streets are still stroads. And much of the proposed Measure 2022 sales tax measure for Sacramento County is invested in this flawed concept. So the next two posts will address those issues.

For a good introduction to stroads, see the Strong Towns page Slow the Cars, or Chapter 2 of Confessions of a Recovering Engineer.

too many traffic signals?

I just finished reading Confessions of a Recovering Engineer by Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns. I’ll have more to say about the book soon. The reading reminded me of a number of things I’ve wanted to write more about, and one of those is traffic signals. Chapter 7, Intersections and Traffic Flow.

“Traffic signals are the most mindless and wasteful thing Americans routinely install to manage traffic. Removing nearly all of them within cities would improve our transportation systems and overall quality of life.”

Chuck Marohn, Confessions of a Recovering Engineer

I have long wondered what the value of traffic signals really is. As a walker, they make me wait for the signal cycle when there is no traffic coming. As a bicyclist, they stop me at almost every location, because they are set for the speed of cars, not the speed of bicyclists. There are places that set signals to work for bicyclists, but nowhere in the Sacramento region. Of course as an enlightened walker and bicyclist, I wait only for gaps in traffic and not for the signal to change. As a driver, which I once was, they make me sit at an intersection when I could be moving, and slow overall travel time.

Most signals do not sense traffic loads and respond. They are on a cycle, no matter what. Rush hour, midnight, same cycle. Signals are timed to preference one direction of traffic over the cross-traffic. And they are often very slow cycles. In the county, many of the signals are on a 2.5 minute cycle, and even in urban areas they are on a slow 1.5-2 minute cycle. Drivers have come to accept the long wait, but for walkers and bicyclists for whom a red signal can increase overall travel time by 1-1/2 to two times, they make us crazy.

Signals do not slow the speed that drivers drive. Drivers wait at the red light, and then accelerate on the green to make up for wasted time, always going over the posted speed limit. Of course these days many drivers don’t stop for red lights at all, they go through intersections on stale reds (meaning it was red before they even entered the intersection). This has become a very common behavior over the years, and is almost routine since the pandemic.

One of the things that signals seem to do is shift unsafe driving behavior from intersections to corridors, the street parts in between signals. Instead of misbehavior at intersections, causing lower speed crashes, we get misbehavior in between, with higher speed crashes.

Everyone who walks knows that signalized intersections are not safe places to cross the street. Drivers turning right look only for opposing traffic, almost never for people in the crosswalk. When the light turns green, drivers accelerate into right hand turns, across the crosswalk and any walkers in it. For intersections that permit left turns on green lights, the threat of a left turning driver crossing the crosswalk at high speed is constant. So people who value their life tend to cross mid-block, where one only has to look for two directions of traffic instead of 12.

The Confessions book suggests several alternatives to traffic signals, including roundabouts, traffic circles, and shared space intersections.

  • Use roundabouts rather than traditional intersections. Of course in place where the size of intersections is constrained by right-of-way and adjacent buildings, a real roundabout may not be possible, but traffic circles, of which the central city already has a number, can fit. Traffic circles are not as effective as roundabouts, but can replace signals.
  • Slow traffic enough that people can cross streets without having to have signals to interrupt traffic.

I realize that many people associate signals and stop signs with safety, and often demand signals and stop signs when the streets are dangerous. So what I am going to say here will be controversial. For people who think traffic signals make things safer, please spend some time observing at both signalized intersections, and unsignalized intersections. Are the ones with signals really safer? For anyone?

One of my (not) favorite signals is at 15th Street & E Street. At this point, 15th Street is not a collector or arterial, it only becomes one-way a block earlier at D Street, and has very little traffic at this point. It does not become a higher volume street until H Street and I Street to the south. E Street is a collector, though not a very busy one. Yet the signal cycles all day long, with almost no traffic at it. A perfect location for a traffic circle. Not the point of this post, but 15th Street at this location does not need two lanes, one lane would be plenty, and the excess lane can be converted to diagonal parking and/or a bike lane. A photo of the intersection is below, showing a typical amount of traffic.

What about all the signals on 14th Street? This is a low volume, fairly low traffic speed street, at all times of day. It dead-ends at the convention center, so it is not really even a through street, yet it has five signals. There are a lot more such examples. You can add yours in the comments!

15th St & E St intersection, Sacramento

All the signals in the central city that are not at the intersection of collector and/or arterial streets should be slated for removal. If the city wishes to do so, it could do a traffic study before removal, or just go ahead with removal, but it should not be leaving these signals in place without action. There are options short of complete removal. Signals could be made into signalized pedestrian crossings, so that when people walking need to cross, they still have (some) protection of a red light. (Some protection. Again, many drivers to not stop at red lights.) Curb extensions can be installed to shorten crossing distances. Traffic diverters (modal filters) can be installed so that only bicyclists have a thru route. And of course roundabouts and traffic circles. At the intersection of two collector streets, a four-way stop might be appropriate. Each intersection is unique, but each one is also a candidate for change that makes travel safer and less frustrating no matter the mode of travel.

I’m not suggesting, at this time, the removal of signals at the intersection of collector and/or arterial streets. Someday.

The map shows these signal locations, with a red X (pdf). The intersections of collectors and/or arterial streets, not marked here, are not being challenged at this time. The purple streets are designated collectors or arterials by the city (part of the Functional Classification System).

signals in Sacramento central city for possible removal

our racist and classist transportation system

I almost continuously find myself thinking about our transportation system, as it exists now, and wondering, how did we get here? How did we get to a car dominated city, where the lives of people who walk and bicycle and take transit are valued less than those who drive? How come our sidewalks are in poor condition, and the city insists that it is not their problem to solve? How come we spend nearly all of our transportation dollars on freeways and interchanges, and relatively very little on streets? How come people outside cars don’t feel safe, both from traffic and from concerns about personal safety? How come the police don’t enforce laws against driver behavior which endangers people walking – specifically, egregious speeding on streets, and failure to yield to people in crosswalks? How come the city is so spread out that many people feel it necessary to drive? How come?

Well, the answer is obvious for those who care to look, and to think. We have a transportation system that was built around racist and classist values. The City of Sacramento (and Caltrans) built freeways through low income neighborhoods, on purpose. The freeways were built, not for the benefit of the communities they run through, but for commuters passing through, on their way from single family houses to jobs. The freeways don’t even serve freight and commerce very well, because they are congested with commuter traffic through which trucks must crawl. The city and Caltrans are further widening these freeways, as we speak.

The city approved developments, from World War II onward, that did not have sidewalks. Of course there are some neighborhoods, high income, that don’t want sidewalks because they want to preserve that rural feeling, but I doubt there was ever a middle income or low income neighborhood that didn’t want sidewalks. The city did not require them because leaving them out made for a higher profit for developers, less space taken up by sidewalks, and lower street construction costs. (I am not against developers, but governments routinely cave to developer requests to reduce infrastructure costs, rather than ensuring good infrastructure for all citizens).

And where there are sidewalks? They are often in poor condition. I live in the central city, where sidewalks get repaired, or at least patched. But I also walk in other neighborhoods populated by lower income people of color. There, the sidewalks are not in good condition. Many are too narrow for people to walk side-by-side, and certainly too narrow for people with mobility devices to pass. Curb ramps are scarce. Root heaves go unrepaired. People park blocking sidewalks, and the city does not enforce that. Most city parking enforcement is focused on the central city, where there is metered parking and therefore easy-to-write tickets. The outlying areas, where sidewalks are much more frequently blocked by illegal parking, not so much.

The city has started to pay more attention to low income neighborhoods and people of color. There have been projects completed, and awarded but not constructed, that start to address the past inequities. But it is too little, and too slow. The city is still focused on maintaining the speed and flow of motor vehicles, and not on the people who live here.

The city is also making progress on allowing a greater density of homes, both infill in the central city and incremental densification of single family house neighborhoods. But they are also encouraging and supporting greenfield developments at the periphery, which exacerbates all of these problems.

You might think I’m picking on the City of Sacramento. No. All of this is true of every other city and unincorporated place in the region. But the city is where I live, and where I experience this every day.

I am a white, male, older, middle class person. I am not the person against who these harms were directed, other than being a walker, bicyclist, and transit user.

Why is this history important? If we don’t recognize the racist and classist nature of our existing transportation system, we can’t undo the damage done in the past, and make sure that it never happens again in the future. I think the recognition of this should part of every discussion on transportation, of every engineering and planning action. In the same way that an acknowledgement of native lands helps us remember the harms of the past, the need to address these, and the people still living here, an acknowledgement of the racist and classist transportation system can help us to a better system.

These concerns fall under the category of equity, but I’ve not used that word here. Equity has largely become a checkbox for transportation agencies, and when it is taken seriously only says “we’ll do better in the future”, it does not recognize the damage to be reversed.

Our existing transportation system is profoundly racist and classist. We must acknowledge this in each and every transportation decision, so that we may work to undo the harms of the past and ensure that no harms are perpetrated in the future.

Dan Allison, Getting Around Sacramento
broken sidewalk on Sutterville Rd

Since I’d like this to be part of every discussion and decision, I welcome your input on how to make this statement more succinct and powerful.

Sac Transportation Priorities Plan update

Angela Heering provided some progress information and links on the City of Sacramento Transportation Priorities Plan. So here is an update to my previous Sac Transportation Priorities Plan post.

Start with the city’s Transportation Priorities Plan (TPP) webpage, if you haven’t been there before. A video brings an update from Jennifer Donlon Wyant on the completed Phase 1, and a the Phase 1 Community Engagement Summary report gives the details. Update: I hadn’t noticed the TPP Project Prioritization Recommendations.

There will be a presentation to city council on March 15, both on the results on Phase 1 and the plan for Phase 2. An earlier presentation to the ‘community consultants is here. The presentation to council will probably differ.

The presentation clarifies one of the questions that came up during the Big Ideas city council workshop.

How is the TPP different from the Transportation & Climate Big Ideas?
The TPP is a policy document that will prioritize all City Transportation investments in projects based on community values. It does not define new projects.
The Big ideas are a set of defined projects designed to think about mobility as a network and a network to encourage walking, bicycling and transit use. The Big Ideas will be prioritized with all other projects in the TPP.

I’m excited about this process. The city has never had public criteria for how projects are selected. It has been based in the past on the personal preference of the Public Works department, and sometimes, city council members. Making good investments in transportation requires criteria and performance measures for projects!

housing grants and transportation

The Strategic Growth Council has awarded $808M in grants for affordable housing in the sixth round of the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program.

Streetsblog Cal covered one of the two in the Sacramento region:

“In Yuba City in Northern California, Richland Village, also awarded $30 million, will build 176 units in a net-zero-energy project that includes electric vehicle charging, as well as a transit center hub nearby with an electric bus charging system. It will also add sidewalks, bike lanes, new crosswalks, traffic calming measures, and pedestrian-level lighting. The award will also help fund workforce development programs, multi-lingual legal counseling services, and transit passes for residents.”

The other project is On Broadway Apartments in Sacramento at Broadway and 19th St, with 138 units of income restricted housing. This is two blocks from the Broadway light rail station and along SacRT bus route 51. I could not find any articles that are not firewalled, but here are two you may want to read: https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article242715176.html and https://www.bizjournals.com/sacramento/news/2020/05/14/broadway-proposal-would-add-150-affordable-apartme.html.

Sac Transportation & Climate Workshop

The first City of Sacramento Transportation & Climate Workshop was held last night as part of the regular city council meeting. The first news, which was not at all clear before, is that this is the first of several workshops, which will develop the plan further. The next workshop has not been scheduled, but may be in March.

screen capture from city presentation

Some highlights:

  • No one spoke against the seven big idea projects.
  • People liked the enhanced bus lane on Stockton for SacRT route 51, but it didn’t receive much notice in the discussion.
  • Nailah Pope-Harden of Climate Plan and a local activist, said bold is the minimum, and said all projects should be about reconnecting communities. Many other speakers referred back to Nailah’s challenge.
  • The opening slide of the city presentation showed SacRT bus route 30 on J Street, pulled out of traffic and blocking the bike lane. Irony probably unintentional, but it does illustrate one of the ways in which the city does not support transit or bicycling. The bus should not be pulling out of traffic, but stopping at a bus boarding island with the separated bikeway running behind it.
  • Sam Zimbabwe of Seattle DOT presented on the ways in which the city has shifted mode share to transit with projects and priorities. One of his slides showed the huge increase in the number of intersections at which they have programmed leading pedestrian intervals (LPIs) to enhance pedestrian safety.
  • Jeff Tumlin of San Francisco MTA said they have realized that waiting for a few big projects is an ineffective approach, and are now doing many small projects, often with temporary measures that can be improved when made permanent. He said that sales taxes don’t have to be regressive, if the benefits are directed to the right places and projects, and that well-designed congestion pricing is not regressive. He also suggested that city staff should be challenged to a higher level of productivity and innovation, and let go if they choose not to meet that. He also spoke about SFMTA’s approach, with partners, of working on transportation and housing as a unified goal, not siloed.
  • Darrell Steinberg mentioned several times the idea of the city doing a transportation ballot measure so that it could set its own priorities for investment rather than compromising with the county (SacTA) over projects which don’t meet the needs of the city.
  • City staff said transportation is now 56% of carbon emissions in the city, which is higher than numbers reported before.
  • Ryan Moore poo-poo’d the idea of lowering speed limits, saying the MUTCD prevents that, without mentioning the state law which allows reductions in specific circumstances. Others pushed back on this.
  • Rick Jennings spoke enthusiastically about getting more kids on bikes and his own experience of bicycling with kids.
  • Jeff Harris spoke about EVs, despite the setup of the workshop being about other transportation ideas, not EVs.
  • Mai Vang pointed out that the ideas are too District 4 (central city) focused, believes that there should be more focus on low-income and outlying areas. She said we need better access to light rail stations, not just bicycling access to downtown.
  • Civic Thread spoke (all their employees!) about the need for a city-wide Safe Routes to School program to address the recent parent death at school dismissal at Hearst Elementary, as well as safety needs at every school. They also highlighted equity and community access.
  • Henry Li and Jeff Harris pointed to micro-transit (SmaRT Ride) as being a great success, but SacRT has still not provided information to the community to judge that.
  • Henry Li spoke mostly about funding, and did not address the Stockton/Route 51 project. He again highlighted light rail to the airport, despite the transit advocacy community’s request that all light rail extensions including ARC/Citrus Heights/Roseville considered before selecting the next project.

The message from the invited speakers and the community was clear: we need to make big changes in a hurry, and city funding and commitment will be necessary for that to happen. How will the city respond?

What are your highlights from the workshop?

screen capture of Seattle DOT slide on speed limits and LPIs