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.
- 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?