H St bicycle fixes

H Street is commonly used by bicyclists leaving Sacramento Valley Station, and others as well. It has decent bicycle facilities except for some gaps.

H Street has a bike lane on the south side from 5th Street to 16th St, except one block, 7th Street to 8th Street. There is absolutely no reason for this gap. This is the section between the Sacramento County Administration Building on the south and a decked parking garage on the north. The parking seems to be there for the convenience of people working in the building, as there does not seem to be turnover of the parking spots. There is ample parking in the garage. This parking should be removed and a bike lane painted IMMEDIATELY. No excuses. A common quote in the bicyclist community is “sharrows are bullshit”, and this is the case here, where the city has preferenced motor vehicle drivers over bicyclist safety.

H St parking and sharrows from 7th St to 8th St
H St parking and sharrows from 7th St to 8th St

There is a bike lane on the north side between 7th Street and 13th Street. Bike lanes on the left side of one-way streets are much less used than right side bike lanes, but are useful.

H Street might also be used inbound to SVS if it were converted to a two-way street. When the city completes the installation of a separated bikeway on I Street westbound between 21st Street and 12th Street, inbound access to SVS will be improved, but the project stops well short of the station, leaving the seven blocks to 5th Street with only a bike lane, with hazardous parking in the part-time bike lane in the block of 7th Street to 6th Street at the county jail. So having H Street as an inbound would still be very useful. Eventually F Street can also provide for inbound, but only when the station access point is opened and if bike facilities are installed on F Street. Every street with significant traffic volume should have bicycle facilities.

There are four curb extensions (bulb-outs) on the south side of the street, at 9th St southeast corner, 10th Street southwest and southeast corners, and 14th Street southwest corner. Curb extensions are of clear benefit for walkers, reducing crossing distance and improving visibility. However, unless removed, they would prevent the installation of a parking protected separated bikeway on the south side of H Street. There are not curb extensions on the north side. If these four curb extensions remain, then every corner should receive this treatment, initially with paint and post extensions, then with concrete extensions.

If H Street were converted from one-way to two-way, the section between 8th Street and 16th Street would be easy. Signalized intersections at 8th, 9th, 10th, 12th, 15th, and 16th would need to be changed, but otherwise there would be no significant cost or work. The street would be restripesd, but on the same pattern.

The challenge is between 5th Street and 8th Street, where H Street carries light rail tracks. From 7th Street to 8th Street, the westbound track from 8th Street is on the north side of the street. From 6th Street to 7th Street, the eastbound track to 7th Street splits off. The angle of the tracks here would present a safety hazard for bicyclists, so some sort of special accommodation for crossing the tracks would be needed, perhaps a painted bike lane that crosses the tracks at a higher angle. From 5th Street to 6th Street, there is again a single track on the north side. It might be possible to fit in an inbound (westbound) bike lane in these three blocks. See the Streetmix diagram below, however, the measurements are from Google Maps, not from on-the-ground measurements, so may be inaccurate.

However, as a transit supporter, I must point out that light rail should be double-tracked from 7th Street to 5th Street, and if this were done, there would not be space for a a bike lane on the north. This alignment will be used in the future for light rail through SVS and continuing to the River District (rather than on 7th Street), so a single-track segment is not appropriate. The city, who is responsible for SVS, has offered in the Sacramento Valley Station Master Plan, the following diagram, but this is within SVS west of 5th Street. So far as is known, SacRT does not have a design for light rail between 5th Street and 8th Street.

H St at 7th St possible cross-section
H St at 7th St possible cross-section

There are two completely unnecessary signalized intersections in this stretch, at 11th Street and at 14th Street. Neither of these cross-streets has enough traffic to justify a traffic signal. These should be removed, whether or not the street becomes two-way, and if it does, the equipment can be used to reduce the cost of the conversion by being used at other intersections.

There was a proposal to move light rail from K Street to H Street, between 12th Street and 8th Street, part of the streetcar project, removing light rail from K Street to that it could better be used for streetcar. However, this proposal is dead, so far as is known, since the streetcar now has a completely different and much reduced alignment.

Summary: H Street can be made immediately safer for bicyclists by removing parking 7th to 8th Streets. Safety and access to Sacramento Valley Station can be improved with other actions.

Sac kill those sharrows on H St

The block of H Street between 7th Street and 8th Street in downtown Sacramento has shadows instead of a bike lane. There is a bike lane in the preceding block, and in the block past, but not this block. Why? Because on-street parking has been preserved on this block in preference to bicycle facilities. The right lane lane is marked with a sharrow. Not a properly placed sharrow, but one in the door zone of the parking lane. When shadows are used, they should be placed in the center of the travel lane. But rare is the situation in which they should be used at all. Research indicates that sharrows are less safe than no markings are all, less safe than marked bike lanes.

So why is this parking here at all? No reason whatsoever. On the north side of this block is a County of Sacramento parking garage. There is even a pedestrian bridge between the parking garage and the Sacramento County administrative building on the south side of H Street, as seen in the photo.

I am certain that all of these cars belong to county employees or contractors. They should be parking in the garage, and this parking should be removed so that at least a marked bike lane can be placed in this block. Of course H Street should have a separated bikeway from 6th Street, Sacramento Valley Station, to 16th Street, where it becomes two-way. But a Continous painted bike lane is at least a first step.

There are a number of locations in the central city where bike lanes are dropped for a block in favor of parking and travel lanes. Every single one of these should be fixed either by the removal of parking or a general purpose lane.

Caveat: I post about issues in the central city because I live here, and see the problems every time I am out walking or bicycling. However, I strongly believe that the city should be focused on solving issues in lower income, disinvested neighborhoods, of which there are ample throughout the city. The central city has received more than its share of bike facilities.