I encourage you to support the Sacramento Active Transportation Commission’s (SacATC) sending the Status of Walking/Biking committee report to city council. The report is on the agenda for SacATC on this Thursday, 6:00PM to about 8:00PM.
The report is the first attempt since the early days of the SacATC to actually address transportation policy. The SacATC has unfortunately become a rubber stamp for city grant applications, and has not delved into policy since the early days when an update of the city’s Bicycle Master Plan being completed, and the ATC was able to make some improvements to that. The commission was formed to advise council on policy (it is NOT advisory to staff, but to the council), but has not done so. Now is the time, and this status report should be supported because it finally starts to address policy.
The status report includes nine recommendations:
- Increase Funding for Active Transportation
- Expand Speed Management Program
- Develop a Citywide Safe Routes to School Program
- Finalize the Construction Detour Policy
- Develop an ATC Dashboard
- Create a Sacramento Quick-Build Bikeways Program
- Pilot an Electric Bike Library & Promote E-Bike Incentives
- Increase Bike Parking
- Re-establish Slow & Active Streets
I’m sure you can think of many other recommendations that might be made, but this is a great start. If the council pays attention to these recommendations, and takes action to create and fund programs, the status of walking and bicycling will have improved by next year, and more items can be added.
You an express your support in several ways:
Consult the agenda for more detail on making public comment. It used to be possible to submit email to the city clerk, but this option is no longer mentioned.
Update: The letter on the status of walking/biking was deferred to the next meeting, where a modified letter will be considered and hopefully passed. The Freeport and Northgate Transportation Plans were forwarded to council. I spoke in favor of Northgate and against Freeport, for reasons I will detail in the near future. The applications for planning grants were supported.
The Sacramento Active Transportation Commission (SacATC) is meeting online Thursday, January 18, 2023, 6:00PM to about 8:00PM, via Zoom. See http://sacramento.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=21 for agenda and eComment.
The three main topics are:
A read of the subcommittee report, formatted as a letter to the mayor since the commission is advisory to the council, is good and should be supported. I particularly like the emphasis on completing the construction detour policy, since city staff otherwise do not care about the safety of walkers and bicyclists in navigating construction projects that close or change sidewalks and bikeways. Two items missing are bike/scooter share, and Vision Zero. These two items may or may not fall under the purview of SacATC, however, the city is not making information available to the public on these efforts, so it seems to fall to SacATC to do so.
In general, the Northgate and Freeport plans are an immense improvement over existing conditions, so meet needs of the moment, but it is less clear they are going to meet the needs of the future, which will be much less private motor vehicle driving, and more walking, bicycling and transit. If time is available to look at the plans more closely, I’ll add posts.
The City of Sacramento Active Transportation Commission (SacATC) was established in 2018 as a replacement for the city/county Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC). This was good, as the county’s unwillingness to consider innovative solutions, even when they were in the city, meant that very little ever happened there. There was a lot of hope in the bicycling and walking advocacy community that SacATC would turn a new page and accelerate necessary changes in the city. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. The commission has been reactive, not proactive. A number of people have resigned from the commission when they discovered that not much of importance was happening there.
Nothing here is meant to demean the contributions of city staff to seeking grant funding for critical projects. The city is paying much more attention to active transportation than it used to, but I and many other advocates believe that it is still paying too little attention, and certainly too little funding.
So, I believe it is time for a reset.
- SacATC is advisory to the city council. It should therefore be communicating with council on a fairly regular basis. That does not mean that it does not collaborate with staff, but it does not take direction from them.
- The primary job of the commission should be to review and to create policy. Reviewing projects is a secondary focus. That means at least half of every meeting should be spent talking about policy, not about projects.
- SacATC should be setting its own agenda, not letting staff set it. If staff wants to bring something to the commission, they would contact the commission chair to request that it be on the agenda. The chair should solicit agenda ideas from commissioners at the end of each meeting, and again, in advance of the next meeting to meet whatever deadline the city sets for its agenda posting.
- The purview of SacATC should be all city activities, when they may affect active transportation, not just Public Works. This would include, for example, construction traffic control plan permitting, city utility work in the streets, waste collection (trash cans in bike lanes), repaving plans, law enforcement, and parking enforcement.
- SacATC supported sidewalks where they are part of complete streets projects, but has not addressed sidewalk infill, closing gaps in this critical transportation infrastructure. I believe this should be a major focus of the commission this year, developing policy to recommend to the council that makes consistent and rapid progress towards a continuous sidewalk network, properly designed ADA ramps at every corner, and frequent safe crossings.
The next meeting of SacATC is Thursday, February 18. The agenda and eComment link will be available a few days beforehand at http://sacramento.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=21.
The commission is established under city code: http://www.qcode.us/codes/sacramento/view.php?topic=2-2_100&showAll=1&frames=on.