The City of Sacramento Active Transportation Commission (SacATC) was established in 2018 as a replacement for the city/county Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC). This was good, as the county’s unwillingness to consider innovative solutions, even when they were in the city, meant that very little ever happened there. There was a lot of hope in the bicycling and walking advocacy community that SacATC would turn a new page and accelerate necessary changes in the city. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. The commission has been reactive, not proactive. A number of people have resigned from the commission when they discovered that not much of importance was happening there.
Nothing here is meant to demean the contributions of city staff to seeking grant funding for critical projects. The city is paying much more attention to active transportation than it used to, but I and many other advocates believe that it is still paying too little attention, and certainly too little funding.
So, I believe it is time for a reset.
- SacATC is advisory to the city council. It should therefore be communicating with council on a fairly regular basis. That does not mean that it does not collaborate with staff, but it does not take direction from them.
- The primary job of the commission should be to review and to create policy. Reviewing projects is a secondary focus. That means at least half of every meeting should be spent talking about policy, not about projects.
- SacATC should be setting its own agenda, not letting staff set it. If staff wants to bring something to the commission, they would contact the commission chair to request that it be on the agenda. The chair should solicit agenda ideas from commissioners at the end of each meeting, and again, in advance of the next meeting to meet whatever deadline the city sets for its agenda posting.
- The purview of SacATC should be all city activities, when they may affect active transportation, not just Public Works. This would include, for example, construction traffic control plan permitting, city utility work in the streets, waste collection (trash cans in bike lanes), repaving plans, law enforcement, and parking enforcement.
- SacATC supported sidewalks where they are part of complete streets projects, but has not addressed sidewalk infill, closing gaps in this critical transportation infrastructure. I believe this should be a major focus of the commission this year, developing policy to recommend to the council that makes consistent and rapid progress towards a continuous sidewalk network, properly designed ADA ramps at every corner, and frequent safe crossings.
The next meeting of SacATC is Thursday, February 18. The agenda and eComment link will be available a few days beforehand at http://sacramento.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=21.
The commission is established under city code: http://www.qcode.us/codes/sacramento/view.php?topic=2-2_100&showAll=1&frames=on.