I live within the influence/taxation zone for the proposed Sacramento Streetcar, Sacramento Measure B, so I received a voter information pamphlet, and presumably will receive a ballot within a few days. Let me say right up front that I am voting yes. I support the streetcar for its economic and transportation benefits. However, I’d like to address some of the anti arguments.

YesOnB

No on Measure B

The pro side is well represented at http://gosacstreetcar.com, and the other websites linked from there. I have not found a website for the anti side, but their arguments are in the information packet and on the sign above.

Here are the anti arguments, from the pamphlet, with my comments in green:

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The River Cats recently announced that they were going to make parking free and have expanded parking space for the upcoming season (SacBee). And they are raising ticket prices. Free parking? There is no such thing as free parking. The car drivers are now receiving a subsidy to drive, at my expense. Have the River Cats […]

Several Sacramento area people have referenced the article “12 Strategies That Will Transform Your City’s Downtown” on the UrbanScale blog by John Karras. I’d like to look a little more closely at some of the strategies. If you have information or thoughts about any of these, please contribute.

#1 Turn one-way streets into two-way streets. Sacramento, and specifically downtown/midtown, has most of the one-way streets in the region. The city does have a policy to convert some of these streets, but the effort stalled, and no one seems to know why or be willing to admit why. Several streets have been resurfaced recently without being converted, though this would be the perfect time to do it. These include H, I, 9th, and 10th. There are some costs to conversion, turning signals around or installing new signals in some cases, the the reward in walkability and retail success is worth it. The post says “One-way streets are great if your only goal is to channel traffic through your downtown, but they are bad for pedestrian activity and retail opportunities.  Two-way streets create a more comfortable pedestrian environment and have been shown to increase property values.” J Street in Sacramento is a classic example of how one-way streets reduce retail business. All those thousands of cars streaming by the most dense retail street in the region, and only small bubbles of successful retail to show for it. I’m glad Karras has this one on the top, because it is one of my strongest desires, with many blog posts: Two-waying streets in SFNew bike lanes, diets and sharrows downtownstreet changesmore on conversion to two-way streets, and Choosing streets to walk.

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There is a bill before Congress to restore the parity between parking tax breaks and transit tax breaks. Most of the media, unions and environmental organizations are arguing to achieve parity in the tax subsidy, by raising the transit benefit to that of the parking benefit. Some have questioned whether it might not be better […]

Curb&GutterDiagramsRolled curbs slope up from the gutter pan to the sidewalk, whereas standard curbs have a more vertical face. Standard curbs are both old and modern, but there was a period of time in the 1950s through 1970s when rolled curbs were very popular, seen as a sign of the new suburbs. In the grid area of Sacramento, including the first ring suburbs, standard curbs are quite common. In the second ring suburbs and the sprawl suburbs, rolled curbs are quite common, not only being found in residential neighborhoods but even on arterial roads.

parking up on the sidewalk with rolled curb

parking up on the sidewalk with rolled curb

So, what’s the problem with rolled curbs? Drivers use rolled curbs to drive up on the edge of the sidewalk, constraining the sidewalk width, reducing walkability, and not infrequently causing blockage of the sidewalk for people in wheelchairs. ADA regulations require at least 36 inches of clear width. Combine the narrow 4-foot sidewalks that were popular in the suburbs with this driver behavior, and the car-influence zone is expanded to the complete width of the right of way, leaving no place for pedestrians. [Note: This photo is for illustration purposes only, not to give this driver a hard time. This is common practice, and I’ve seen many instances where much more of the sidewalk was blocked.]

A side affect of parking up on sidewalks is that it leaves more of the street width for moving motor vehicles, which then increases the speed at which people drive. By trying to get their vehicles out of the way of the “speeding drivers,” they are actually making it easier for drivers to speed.

What are the solutions?

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This is a follow-on to The I Street mess, and is another example of poor sharrow placement. Thank you, Elle, for reminding me to write about this. On I Street between 7th and 6th streets, there is a floating bike lane on the north side. A floating bike lane, also called a part-time bike lane, is […]

On Monday evening, I observed an altercation over a parking spot in front of my apartment on O Street in Sacramento. There are several restaurants on 16th Street that are popular and generate a desire for parking, and there is already a lot of local resident parking, so spots are hard to find at times. […]