SacCity ADA ramps and Central City Mobility

I now know why all the of initial ADA ramp projects were on 21st Street. That is the first street being repaved as part of the Central City Mobility Project. 21st has been identified in the project for separated bikeways. Since there is a bus route on 21st (SacRT Route 62), I assume that the bus stops will be on the right hand side northbound, and the bikeway on the left hand side. The design shown on the project webpage shows a parking-protected separated bikeway on the left, along with a buffer zone (to protect against car doors opening). This seems to be the standard that the city has adopted, and side so far the city is placing separated bikeways only on roadways that also have bus service, presumably this design will be used in every case.

Another diagram indicates that there will be vertical delineators (K-71) in the buffers, but there are no details about the frequency. There’s are the delineators that are run over and destroyed by vehicle drivers on a regular basis, and these will suffer the same fate. The larger diameter delineators (NOT bollards, the city is incorrect in calling vertical plastic a bollard; bollards are made of metal or concrete, not plastic) that are now installed on part of J Street are not specified here. Though these don’t provide any more actual physical protection, they seem to raise doubts among drivers and get run over less often.

diagram of separated bikeway

There were several curb islands along 21st Street on the left hand side. All but one have been removed. The remaining one at 21st Street and Capitol Ave may just be an oversight, but if not, it is in the middle of what is expected to be the separated bikeway.

21st St at Capitol Ave SW corner curb islands

The fourteen blocks of 21st Street from W Street to H Street has been stripped down about two inches, for repaving. The restriping after paving will include the separated bikeway.

The project webpage has a diagram for the transition of a separated bikeway on the left side of 19th Street southbound to the right side of 19th Street south of W Street, which is a two-way street. However, it does not have a diagram for the transition of this 21st Street separated bikeway at the north end, where 21st Street becomes a two-way street at I Street. This is already a hazardous intersection due to the double left-turn lane from 21st Street to I Street westbound.

Separated bikeways are only as safe as their intersection treatments, and the transition from and to separated bikeways to regular bike lanes are critically important. I hope that the city has a good design for 21St Street and H Street, otherwise bicyclists will be placed in more danger than existing conditions. The solution is of course bicycle signal faces that allow bicyclists to move when other traffic is held, but the city has been reluctant to use these.

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fixed bike/scooter corral

A bike/scooter corral was installed on R Street in a parking space, next to the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op. Though for a while drivers respected the set-aside, marked for bikes and scooters, drivers came to use the space as regular parking, with a car parked there almost all day long, preventing the intended use as a bike and scooter parking area. I reported this illegal parking to the city a number of times, but to my knowledge, no one was ever ticketed. It should be noted that parking is not short on the streets around the co-op, and there is a parking garage adjacent to the co-op, which I have never seen full. So drivers were using the spot for personal convenience.

The city recently installed vertical delineators (flex posts) in the spot and repainted the while line that signifies are bike parking area. So far it is working, I’ve not seen anyone run over the posts in order to park there.

The majority of the bike/scooter corrals in the city have been placed on wide sidewalks, where they don’t interfere with walking. The in-street corrals are mostly being respected; this is the only one I am aware of that was routinely violated.

These corrals are designed to solve two issues: 1) provide parking where traditional bike racks are not present or insufficient; and 2) to keep scooters (mostly rental scooters from the scooter-share companies) from filling up the regular bike racks and preventing their use by the public.

photo: R St micromobility corral with posts

update on SacCity ADA ramps

Note: I discovered that I have often used ‘detectible’, but should have been using ‘dectectable’ for detectable warning strips.

This is an update to the update on work being done on corner ADA ramps in the Sacramento central city, apparently as part of the Central City Mobility Project.

So far as I have seen, curb extensions are not part of this project.

There are now a number of locations where the concrete ramp is being cut so that the detectable warning strip can be installed, but the curbs are not being touched. See below for an example.

Q-St & 16th-St, SW corner, ADA ramp construction
Q-St & 16th-St, SW corner, ADA ramp construction

One of the corners I have been monitoring, 21st St and O St northeast corner, is complete, but with temporary patches that make the ramps useable, though ironically still blocked by folding barricades and caution tape, which absolutely does not meet ADA guidelines for contruction signing and safety. This seems to be the pattern with the city, trying to make things better, but not paying attenteion to the details. I don’t know when the asphalt will be restored and the corner opened. Maybe the contractor is waiting until all the corners are ready before patching, though that would be stupid.

21st-St & O-St, NE corner, completed corner with ADA ramps
21st-St & O-St, NE corner, completed corner with ADA ramps

I am still not able to make sense of the asphalt cuts that are being done on the corners where the curb will be or has been modified. I’m guess that there was a standard cut design, implemented everywhere, no matter what the actual project.

Walking around the central city, it appear that most of the corners which did not have ADA-compliant ramps will have them when the project is done, but some may not. I don’t know what the criteria is for which corners are being done, and which are being done at a higher level of replacing the curbs and widening the ramps. Many of the existing ramps are narrow, with edging curbs, which was apparently the design at the time they were placed, but the new corners are a different design, with a sloping area between the two ramps, similar to the diagram below, from the 2020 Department of Utilities Standard Specifications: Transportation drawings, not from the 2009 Department of Public Works Street Design Standards, which contain no ADA diagrams. I think the detectable warning strip width is at least 60 inches on the new installations, which is an improvement. The 48 inch width does not allow two people to stand on the strip. Corners with new curb extensions seem to have 72 inch strips.

SacCity T-76 Curb Ramp Dual Combination Planter diagram

separated bikeways and bus routes

The City of Sacramento started a design with protected bikeways on streets with significant bus traffic on P Street and Q Street in downtown Sacramento. I live on P Street, so see use of the bikeway on a daily basis. It works OK. P and Q are not heavily biked streets, and the separated bikeways are not heavily used, but they are OK. And actually, P Street doesn’t work well for buses. Since much of the bus traffic is commuter buses, a lot of them over a short period of time, there is often a stack-up of buses blocking traffic and interfering with each other at a stop opposite me on P Street at 13th Street.

Note: I’m using the term separated bikeway here because it is the term in state law, and therefore planning and engineering documents. Most people call these protected bike lanes, or sometimes cycletracks, though the term cycletrack is more commonly used for two-way bike facilities. Use whatever term you’d like!

On Q Street eastbound, the separated bikeway transitions to a bike lane at 14th Street. Since there are bike lanes on both sides of Q Street to the east, a bicyclist a decide where to transition to the right side of the street. This works OK.

On P Street westbound, however, it is a completely different story. The separated bikeway ends at 9th Street. To the west there are no bicycle facilities of any sort. It is a three lane traffic sewer (what I can three or more lane roadways, the purpose of which is solely to flush traffic in and out of downtown). With the construction going on all through downtown, P Street is and has been reduced to two lanes is several places, and with state workers mostly working from home, there is much less traffic in downtown. Nevertheless, the design is fatally flawed. I use the term ‘fatally’ on purpose – it is a design likely to result in bicyclist fatalities.

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streets are for people!

Part of an ongoing series of posts to support better streets in the City of Sacramento during their 2023 update of Street Design Standards. New standards must be innovative, safe, and equitable, and it will take strong citizen involvement and advocacy to make them so.

The streets we have are largely for cars and car parking. In this, I include trucks and delivery vehicles. Streets are only incidentally for walkers, bicyclists, economic vitality, and urban life. We know that our urban environment must change, to meet the challenge of climate change, but also to create a place where people thrive.

SPUR, a San Francisco Bay Area education and advocacy organization, has done as good a job as I’ve found so far with the words to describe where we are going and how to get there. Their Transportation page includes:

Our Goal: Make walking, biking, taking transit and carpooling the default options for getting around

SPUR’s Five-Year Priorities:

  • Improve the region’s transit network, and the institutions that run it, so that all people have fast, reliable access to their city and region.
  • Make it faster, easier, more dignified and less expensive to get around without a car.
  • Leverage transportation investments to build great neighborhoods and connect people to opportunity.

As a point of comparison, the City of Sacramento, Department of Public Works, Transportation Division says:

The Transportation Division’s primary focus is maintaining and enhancing traffic operations, traffic safety and multimodal mobility for our citizens and customers.

Wake me up from my nap!

I have started working on transportation principles for Sacramento. I admit that the points and wording below are not yet succinct and powerful, but I’m offering them now so that you have an idea where I’m going. I will work on improving them, and post the improvements again at the end of the series.

Street Design Principles

  • Street design will ensure the safety of all street users; Vision Zero rejects any street design that allows fatalities or severe injuries for any street user
  • Street design will encourage walking, bicycling, and transit use, and will discourage unnecessary motor vehicle use
  • Street design will rank safety, livability and economic vitality above vehicle throughput or speed; congestion relief will not be a goal in street design
  • Street design will actively support the city’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) through reduction of vehicle miles traveled (VMT)
  • Streets can and will be redesigned to better serve current and future need; past design which may have met past need need not be retained
  • Interim solutions to safety or capacity issues will be identified for immediate implementation whenever permanent solutions are not yet budgeted; design diagrams for these interim solutions will be provided along with the permanent solution diagrams

My posts and city design standards should use these definitions:

  • ‘Walking’ and ‘walkers’ includes mobility devices; the term pedestrian will not be used except in reference to laws or designs which use that term
  • ‘Bicycling’ or ‘bicyclists’ includes any devices permitted by state law or city code to use bike facilities
  • ‘Street’ includes all roadways which are not freeways or expressways, even if they do not currently meet standards for safe, equitable, or effective streets

Your suggestions on words and ideas are welcome! Comment below, or email me.

does SacCity care about blocking crosswalks?

In the city’s 311 website and app, the following 10 options are listed under Parking: Enforcement Request:

  • Blocking Alley
  • Blocking Driveway
  • Commercial Vehicle in Residential Zone
  • Parked Beyond Posted Time
  • Parked in Disabled Space Without Placard
  • Parked On Unpaved Surface
  • Parked without Permit
  • Red Zone
  • White Zone
  • Other

Blocking a crosswalk is not listed. Is this a mere oversight? I doubt it. I have reported dozens of vehicles parked blocking crosswalks, and not a single one has resulted in a citation. Apparently the city does not consider this a citable violation. One time I actually waited at the crosswalk where a vehicle was parked in violation. The parking officer drove up, noticed the vehicle blocking the crosswalk, and drove away. The 311 request was marked closed with the note that the vehicle was no longer there. But of course it was, and the parking officer knew that it was.

California Vehicle Code (CVC) Division 11: Rules of the Road, Chapter 5: Pedestrians’ Rights and Duties, paragraph 21970 states:

(a) No person may stop a vehicle unnecessarily in a manner that causes the vehicle to block a marked or unmarked crosswalk or sidewalk.

In addition, paragraph 22500 states:

A person shall not stop, park, or leave standing any vehicle whether attended or unattended, except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic or in compliance with the directions of a peace officer or official traffic control device, in any of the following places:

(b) On a crosswalk, except that a bus engaged as a common carrier or a taxicab may stop in an unmarked crosswalk to load or unload passengers when authorized by the legislative body of a city pursuant to an ordinance.

The city should do two things: 1) add ‘Blocking Crosswalk’ to the 311 website and app; and 2) actually enforce this CVC.

This is yet another example of the city’s bias toward motor vehicle drivers and against people walking. Please join me in emailing the city’s Parking Services at, and requesting that the city add this violation to the 311 website and app, and that violations be cited when reported or observed.

If you would like some copy and paste text:

I request that the City of Sacramento Parking Services:

  1. Add ‘Blocking Crosswalk’ to the list of parking violations in the 311 website and app. This is a violation of CVC 21970 and CVC 22500.
  2. Issue citations to vehicles blocking crosswalks, in order to protect the safety of walkers using crosswalk.

SacCity street design standards

I had recently posted on the design for alley sidewalk crossings, based on a document from the City of Sacramento website. I shortly thereafter discovered that there are at least two sets of standards. The Department of Utilities, on the Development Standards page, has a Standard Specifications document which includes some text about streets, and the Transportation appendix of standard drawings which contains the diagram referenced. If you look at the text document, you will notice that it does not link itself to the Department of Utilities. Who wrote it, who would you contact about it? Who knows. Why the Department of Utilities has its own designs, separate from Department of Public Works, which has assigned responsibility for transportation, isn’t clear at all. On the positive side, though, this document was updated November 2020.

The Department of Public Works has its own Section 15 – Street Design Standards, part of the Design and Procedures Manual, linked on the Public Works Publications page. This is the document I discovered after using the Department of Utilities document. On the negative side, this document was last updated in June of 2009. Fourteen years ago. Again, there is no attribution to department in the body of the document. I only know/think this is a Public Works document because it is linked from a PW page.

There have been immense changes in street design best practices in that time. Most of the diagrams are overviews of arterial and collector roadways, very little about other streets. Bike lanes of any sort? Nada. ADA ramp details? Nada. Protected intersections? Nada. Curb extensions (bulb-outs)? Nada. Traffic calming infrastructure? Nada. The text of the document does contain references to a few of these issues, but without corresponding diagrams, there really is no guidance at all.

In searching for design diagrams, it appears there are additional designs scattered across the city website, some of them having to do with subdivisions, which seem to be treated separately from other street design. Let me say that this is not at all clear. The city website contains many documents without attribution to the department which created it. The city search engine is one of the poorest I’ve ever seen, and when it finds a document, it is almost impossible to tell where it came from or on which webpage one might find it.

At the SacATC (City of Sacramento Active Transportation Commission) meeting on 2023-03-16, staff presented an Introduction to Current Active Transportation Efforts. Under Projects, item 6 is ‘Street Design Standards Update: website expected in Fall 2023’. I spoke at the meeting about the weakness and antiquity of the current standards, and about the confusion over which set of standards is being talked about. City code, in Title 17 Planning and Development Code also has references to street design, but no linkage to the corresponding street design documents or diagrams. I don’t think staff realized how big a mess this is. It is not just the Public Works document that needs to be updated, but all city references to street design pulled together and properly referenced and linked.

A post in the near future will provide my ideas about what a street design manual ought to look like.

cover page of Section 15 - Street Design Standards, of the Public Works Design and Procedures Manual

sidewalks across alleys

Note: Please see post on City of Sacramento Street Design Standards. It turns out that there are at least two different sets of design standards.

The City of Sacramento has Standard Specifications and Drawings that require certain designs for the public right-of-way. There were last revised April 2020, and are available on the Utilities: Development Standards page. It is not clear why these are part of Utilities rather than Public Works or Community Development, but they are. Though I haven’t done an element by element comparison, they seem to be a considerable improvement over the previous standards, which seem to be June 2009.

There are designs which are not being followed, and others that should be eliminated. Today, I’ll address sidewalks crossing alleys. Alleys are only common in the central city, but they do exist other places throughout the city.

The city design standard is below (pdf of entire page). The detail is hard to see, but the alleyway, sidewalk, and alley driveway are all concrete, none are asphalt. The T-11 Standard Alley Entrance Detail page says “Portland Cement Concrete (PCC) is the city standard pavement for alleys.”

SacCity Specification detail alley entrance

Of course there are many alleyways that are asphalt, and some that are unpaved gravel. I don’t know when the city standards changed to require pavement, or when to require concrete, but those are the current standards. That means that if an alley, or a sidewalk, or the alley driveway is changed, it must meet current standards. Below is a photo of Neighbors Alley at 17th Street, which was just redone within the last two months. It clearly does not meet city standards. Both the driveway and the sidewalk are asphalt, not concrete. Though I noticed this work being done, I failed to notice who was doing it. City? Private? Private utility? Not sure.

photo of Neighbors Alley at 17th Street
Neighbors Alley at 17th Street
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SacCity red light cameras and crashes

A follow on to red-light-running bullies. I’ve created a map that shows the eleven right light camera (automated enforcement) locations under the City of Sacramento’s Red Light Running Program. The city has 907 signalized intersections. These locations are (listed alphabetically by the intersection entry in the Traffic Signals GIS layer):

  • 16th Street & W Street X
  • 21st Street  & Broadway X
  • 5th Street & I Street X
  • Alhambra Boulevard & J Street
  • Arden Way & Challenge Way X
  • Arden & Exposition Boulevard & Ethan Way X
  • El Camino Avenue & Evergreen Street X
  • Fair Oaks Boulevard & Howe Avenue X
  • Folsom Boulevard & Howe Avenue/Power Inn Road X
  • Mack Road & Center Parkway X
  • Mack Road & La Mancha Way/Valley Hi Drive X

The map (pdf) shows each location, with the red signal icon, and a heat map of the crash severity for crashes occurring at intersections. Yellow means high collision severity, with severity being a weighting of the individual types [1 – Fatal; 2 – Injury (Severe); 3 – Injury (Other Visible); 4 – Injury (Complaint of Pain)]. But it does show the pattern, and you can clearly see the intersections along arterial roadways, where most crashes occur. The crashes are not necessarily red light running crashes. There is a PCF Violation category (VIOLCAT) 12 – Traffic Signals and Signs, and another Intersection (INTERSECT_), but that would not distinguish red light running from stop sign running. It might take looking at individual incident reports, but that is beyond my capacity.

There are certainly high crash severity locations in the city that are beyond the map coverage area, and there are plenty of locations without cameras.

It would be interesting to know if these red light camera locations have a lower rate of red light running crashes that comparable intersections without cameras, but that will require quite a bit more thinking an analysis.

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SacCity should remove crossing at alleys prohibition

City of Sacramento code prohibits pedestrians from crossing streets at alleys.

10.20.030 Crossing at alleys.
     No pedestrian shall cross a through street at an intersection with an alley except within a marked crosswalk. (Prior code § 25.03.052)

While this code has always been an attempt to prioritize motor vehicle drivers over people walking, it is becoming increasing problematic as housing and businesses are now located along alleyways in the central city. ADUs and lot split housing are often accessed through alleys and not from the street. This code makes it so that anyone living or doing business in an alley must go out of the way to cross the street, and it prohibits people who just want to walk alleys to avoid busy streets.

The code should be excised.