bikeway blockages

There are active utility projects on 9th Street and 10th Street that have closed parts of the separated bikeways on those streets. Upon noticing this, I thought, no big deal, a few days of work and things will be back. But the closures have been continuing for three weeks now, with no end in sight. It is interesting that the utility work on J Street is moving fairly quickly, but on 9th and 10th, not so much. I am not sure what utilities are being worked on, and whether these are city-led projects with contractors working on city-owned utilities, or whether they are private utilities such as PG&E or communications.

When there is an extended closure of a separated bikeway, more than two days, an accommodation for bicyclists should be provided. I am aware that some bicyclists are willing to ride in the traffic lanes, but the entire point of a separated bikeway is that it needs to work for all bicyclists, including people who are not comfortable riding in traffic. To allow construction to close a bikeway, without any alternative, is a failure on the part of the city. The city is again expressing its favoritism for motor vehicle drivers over bicyclists.

10th Street

10th St at K St bikeway closure
10th St bikeway construction plate

For 10th Street, general purpose lanes should be reduced from two to one, making the other lane a temporary bikeway. Or, remove parking from the left (west) side of the street so as to allow two general purpose lanes and one temporary bikeway.

9th Street, H Street to J Street

9th St at H St bikeway/bike lane closure
9th St at I St bikeway/bike lane

The bike facility on 9th St is not technically a bikeway until it crosses J St, but since it is intended to provide a similar safe route of travel, I’m including it here. Utility work has closed off the bike lane between H St and J St. No alternative has been provided. The solution is to remove one general purpose travel lane and create a bikeway, or remove parking on the right (west) side of the street in order to maintain two general purpose lanes and one bikeway.

9th Street, K Street to L Street

9th St at K St, no signing for bikeway closure
9th St construction materials stored in the bikeway (just south of previous photo)

9th St at Kayak Alley, walkway/bikeway gone

The reconstruction of Capitol Park Hotel, on the east side of 9th Street between Kayak Alley and L Street, has been going on for months. Every time I go by, something has changed about how the roadway is being handled. Today, the safe bikeway and walkway that was there is now gone. Construction has pushed the fence up against what were formerly the barriers that separated the bikeway/walkway from traffic. Today there was a crane filling the space, which may be necessary, but that doesn’t change the clear message that the entire area is now construction zone with stored construction materials.

The section between K St and Kayak Alley is now being used to store construction materials and worker vehicles. The closure of the separated bikeway is not signed in any way; there have been signs here in the past, but they are gone. If you rode the bikeway without realizing it was closed, you would crash into construction materials.

I am not sure whether there is enough space left in the roadway to provide both a separated bikeway and a travel lane. If so, it should be modified for that. If not, the travel lane should be closed until the construction footprint shrinks again to allow the original walkway/bikeway.

It should be noted that the city did not initially provide the walkway/bikeway on 9th Street, and it was only installed after considerably public outcry.

These locations are a fraction of the ones throughout the city where the city has decided that motor vehicle traffic must be accommodated, but walkers and bicyclists do not. The construction guidelines code that the public requested the city develop and implement have been back-burnered because the city has decided to use staff to apply for grants rather than solving current problems on the roadways. I get more frustrated by the city by the day. I don’t really think they care at all. The car-dominated city, which was created by city planners and engineers, is just fine with them.

J Street needs construction bypass

The future development, possibly to be called Anthem Cathedral Square, at J Street & 11th Street is currently a hole in the ground. The old buildings have been razed, and debris hauled away, but new construction has not started, so it will be some while before J Street on the north side of the site (south side of the street) returns to normal.

A channelized bypass should be created to carry the sidewalk for walkers and the bike lane for bicyclists past this construction site, between 10th St and 11th St, by removing a general purpose travel lane from J Street. The aerial below (before removal of the buildings) shows a sidewalk, a parking lane, a bicycle lane, three general purpose travel lanes, and a parking lane. The channelized bypass would include a shared pathway for walkers and bicyclists, in place of the right hand general purpose lane. The bypass can be created with use of orange construction barrier, as was done on 9th Street. This bypass would remain in place until construction is complete.

While the razing and cleanup was going on, there was decent signing, but it has disappeared or been moved to the side. The first set is the former signage at J St & 1oth St, and then today without an signage. There should be a sign here, the MUTCD R9-11; a barrier is not appropriate at this location since the closure is ahead and there are businesses open.

J St at 10th St se, signage
J St at 10th St se, no signage

At the sidewalk closure point, there is an acceptable barrier but no signage. At this point, it looks like there could be a bypass, but it is fenced off. The appropriate sign here is MUTCD R9-9.

J St past 10th St, sidewalk barrier

At J St & 11th St southeast corner, there was a barrier and signage, but the barrier has been moved to the side and the signage is gone. There should be a barrier and sign here to indicate that the crosswalk is closed. The third photo is an example of a correct barrier and signage.

11th St at J St se, signage
11th St at J St se, no signage
crosswalk closure barrier
correct barrier and signage

At J St & 11th St northwest corner, there should be a barrier and signing to indicate the crosswalk is closed, but neither is present.

J St & 11th St nw, no barrier or signage

This construction zone failure is one among many in Sacramento. The city is not creating traffic control plans that accommodate walkers and bicyclists, and the construction companies are not appropriately placing signs and barriers. This is a violation of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). Responsibility for encroachment permits (when the construction project goes into the public right of way, which includes sidewalks), and traffic control plans to mitigate the situation, rests with the City of Sacramento Department of Public Works.

I have created a new category, construction zone, which will make is easier to find other posts on the construction zone topic. Photos of many construction zone locations are on Flicker in Sac construction-zone album.

9th St blocked by construction

Thank you, Ali Doerr Westbrook, for flagging the latest violation of walker and bicyclist accommodation on a construction project in Sacramento.

The east side of 9th St between L St and the alley is blocked by a construction project. Both the sidewalk and bike lane are blocked. There is no advance signing at 9th and K for southbound walkers and bicyclists, as required by ADA. There is no signing on the construction fencing, as required by ADA. Construction fencing is not an acceptable detectable warning, as required by ADA. Note that this construction project, the conversion of Capitol Park Hotel into supportive housing, is a city project, so not only is the city responsible for a traffic plan that accommodates walkers and bicyclists, but field checking that the plan is being followed, and enforcing it when it is not.

9th St at K St, no advance warning of closure ahead for walkers or bicyclists

This blockage would in itself be bad, but it is made worse by the blockage of the sidewalk on the west side of 9th St, between K and the alley. This private project is also not properly signed and barricaded. Between these two projects, there is NO walker access on 9th St between K St and L St. None. None. None. Of course one could cross at the alley between one side and the other, but then the city conveniently has a walker-hostile code that crossing streets at alleys is illegal. Got the bases covered, Sacramento!

Though the most egregious, this incident is just the latest in a series of offences in the central city. I have posted on some of these here (tag: construction zone), and on Twitter. I’ve also reported a large number of them to the city’s 311 app. Of these 311 reports, about half are closed without anything being done. Making the same report multiple times increases the likelihood, but doesn’t guarantee it.

The worst of the violations are on city projects. The renewal of Memorial Auditorium had issues. Though now finished, it resulted in the permanent closure of the sidewalk on the south side of I Street. The next worse offense is the ongoing city project called 3C, the convention center and community auditorium construction project. Though some of the issues have been resolved here, several remain, particularly on the 15th St side. And this Capitol Park Hotel project is also a city project. There have been other city project problems, but I don’t have time today to go back through my records and photos to identify all of them.

In response to the concerns from myself and many others, the city had said that it would come up with a construction accommodation policy. After a year, nothing has happened. The city, at least the part of the city responsible for construction zone traffic plans, just does not care. Walkers and bicyclists are routinely ignored or actively discriminated against, in favor of motor vehicle drivers. The city is in violation of its ADA consent decree in allowing these issues to occur and to continue.

walking…

A brief aside before I get to the solutions for construction zones.

I’ve been out walking
I don’t do that much talking these days
These days
These days I seem to think a lot
About the things that I forgot to do, for you
And all the times I had the chance to

Jackson Browne, “I’ve Been Out Walking” or “These Days” 1967/1973

I’ve realized in the last few days that I could spend a week, and fill up a week with blog posts, about construction zone problems in just the central city, and could probably spend a month on it in the entire city. Prior to the shelter-in-place, I was mostly bike riding for time reasons, but now that I have more time, I’ve been walking a lot more, and I see a lot of construction activity that I failed to notice on bike. When I’m bicycling, I just go around the construction zone, taking the lane, because that is what I mostly do anyway, and don’t think about it that much. However, most people aren’t willing to take the lane in traffic, and therefore are stopped cold by these construction zones that do not carry the bike lane through. My posts will continue to be mostly about issues for walkers because I see walkers as being more vulnerable users of the public right-of-way, as compared to bicyclists, and collision statistics back that up, however, I recognize that there are plenty of issues for bicyclists as well.