Stockton Blvd draft available

The Stockton Blvd Corridor Study draft is now available for review. It and some display boards reflecting the report can be downloaded at https://www.cityofsacramento.org/Public-Works/Transportation/Planning-Projects/Stockton-Blvd-Corridor-Study. The city is asking for feedback through email rather than another round of workshops.

I have not reviewed the report, but if I have comments to share, I’ll post them on the blog. My take on the earlier ideas are here: Stockton Blvd Corridor Study and Stockton Blvd needs trees.

crosswalks, for now

I hope that you have found the series of posts on crosswalks (category: walkability) useful. I could write about them forever, but for now, that is all. Besides, I’m off to the wilds of southern Utah for spring break, out of Internet range, and no crosswalks except in the small towns.

If you have improvements that you’d like to see that I did not include, or if you have specific locations you’d like to see improved, please comment. Please don’t accept the word of traffic engineers that streets can’t be made safer, or that we can’t afford to make them safer (there are a range of solutions from inexpensive to very expensive), or worst of all, that we can’t slow traffic down. We can slow traffic, we should slow traffic, we must slow traffic. Speed kills.

Leading Pedestrian Interval (LPI) signals

Questions about using Leading Pedestrian Interval (LPI) signals at the community meeting on crosswalks reminded me that I had information on these in the city for some while, but hadn’t shared it. A LPI signal gives the pedestrian a 3-second (or more, but the Sacramento ones are all 3 seconds) head start, with the walk sign coming on before the light turns green, so that pedestrians will already be in the crosswalk and more visible before vehicles start to move. These address the common issue of both right-turning and left-turning vehicles failing to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk. They are one of the pedestrian safety countermeasures identified by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), with a crash reduction factor of 60%. If you search for ‘leading pedestrian interval’ on the Internet, you’ll see a great number of useful links. The NACTO page is especially worthwhile.

My purpose in sharing the specific locations is so you can go out and experience LPI for yourself. How does it work for you?

A LPI does slow traffic very slightly since there is an additional 3 seconds per direction during which most vehicles are not moving.

Lastly, this is not a solution that could have been used at the Freeport-Oregon intersection, which is not a signalized intersection. However, it is a solution for the signalized intersections along Freeport. Ryan Moore claimed that these can’t be used at low pedestrian locations, but the response to all such reactionary claims is: “You can’t judge the need for a bridge by the number of people swimming the river.” If crossings are not safe, then fewer people are walking than otherwise could be. The demand is there, but not the facility. LPIs are one solution.

Lead Pedestrian Interval (LPI) locations in City of Sacramento (as of 2015-08-28):

  • 9th Street and I Street
  • 9th Street and P Street
  • 10th Street and I Street
  • 10th Street and J Street
  • 15th Street and K Street
  • 29th Street and K Street
  • 30th Street and K Street
  • 9th Street and Q Street
  • 13th Street and I Street
  • 8th Street and P Street
  • 8th Street and Q Street

I Street into Old Sacramento

The City of Sacramento sponsored Envision Sacramento website seeks input from the public on a number of issues. One of the topics was “What are your ideas on improving the Old Sacramento connection from downtown Sacramento via I Street?” You can view the comments, just below the survey, but to comment yourself you must create an account.

I Street entrance to Old Sacramento, from Envision Sacramento
I Street entrance to Old Sacramento, from Envision Sacramento

The topic uses the photo at right to illustrate the question. What you can’t see in the photo is that behind the photographer and across 3rd Street (to the left), pedestrian access is on the south side, but to the west, it is on the north side.

Comments include a number about the aesthetics of this entrance to Old Sacramento, including the having a dark freeway under crossing as the main route into the one of the highlights of Sacramento, with poor signing for motor vehicle drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians. A surprising (to me) number of comments, though, were about the transportation aspects, that it is really not safe for bicyclists or pedestrians to use this entrance, even if they know it is there, and the paucity of other options. I think it is clear that the commenters agreed that the way in which Interstate 5 severed the connections between downtown and Old Sacramento is a major issue.

A gallery of photos shows some of the specific problems at this location.

Continue reading “I Street into Old Sacramento”

Choosing streets to walk

business on a two-way, two-lane street (Capitol at 18th)
business on a two-way, two-lane street (Capitol at 18th)

I walk a lot in midtown, going to and from various destinations such as the train station, nonprofits and agencies I work with, grocery stores, theatres, farmers markets, breweries, etc. I was thinking last night as I walked to and from Capital Stage about what streets I choose to walk on.

Almost all the time I choose to walk on two-way, two-lane streets. I rarely choose to walk on the multi-lane streets and the one-way streets, except for short distances as I zigzag to my destination. The two-way, two-lane streets are usually quieter, less traffic and traffic moving more slowly. I can relax more with the quiet, and I can look around more, paying more attention to everything around me and not just traffic.

Why is this significant?

Continue reading “Choosing streets to walk”

Sacramento’s Transportation Report Card

The lead article this week in the Sacramento News & Review is Sacramento’s report card. I can’t resist getting in on the fun.

R-St_Dragon-bike-rackThe article covers bicycle transportation in the “On two wheels” paragraph, and does it pretty well, giving a C grade. I’d add that art bike racks can be fun if they are also functional. The dragon at Shoki Ramen House and the bottle openers at New Helvetia Brewing are good examples. I think bicycling really works pretty well in the central city and some of east Sacramento, with people getting along in sharing the road most of the time. The further out you go, though, the worse things are, with belligerent drivers traveling at high speeds. I’d give central city a B and the far suburbs an D-. Does this average to a C?

Continue reading “Sacramento’s Transportation Report Card”

arena or not…

arena arial, from City of Sacramento
arena arial, from City of Sacramento

Whether the arena is built or not, I care little, and whether the Kings stay or not, I care not at all. But what I find interesting is that no one any longer talks about a public asset like this being located in the suburbs. When it was in the railyards, it was a downtown arena. As it is now proposed on the footprint of the mall, it is the downtown arena. It is the same in Seattle, where the arena location is not so central but is still part of downtown.

Sacramento has grown up! It realizes that downtown is the place for public assets. Downtown has a high density of public transit, walkable and bikeable areas, a grid street pattern, established businesses that can serve patrons of an events center, and yes, even freeways.

The ARCO/Power Balance/Sleep Train facility squats in the middle of acres of parking, a 12,000 parking space wasteland. It is far from light rail, is poorly served by bus (you can get there, but you can’t get home, for evening events, and not at all on Sunday, transit score 24, minimal), is in an un-walkable and un-bikeable area (all high speed arterial roads, walk score 48, car dependent), where almost no streets go through (the classic suburban street system of cul-de-sacs and streets that wind interminably). Why anyone ever thought an arena in Natomas was a good idea, I don’t know, but at least no one any longer thinks it is. And that is progress!

Downtown Plaza, the currently proposed location, has a walk score of 94, walker’s paradise, and a transit score of 67, good transit.

legislation update

There are several bills before the California Legislature that would affect bicycling, walking, and livability. For additional information, see Richard Masoner’s Cyclelicious blog (search for “legislation”) and the California Bicycle Coalition’s 2013 Legislative Agenda page.

AB-184: Statute of limitations: lengthens statue of limitation for hit and run, probably a good bill

AB-206: Vehicles: length limitations: buses: bicycle transportation devices (SacRT): amended to add an onerous process for approval, but probably still a good bill

AB-417: Environmental quality: California Environmental Quality Act: bicycle transportation plan: no changes so far, a good bill

AB-666: Automated traffic enforcement systems: violations: red light cameras, it restarts the program, but with civil rather than criminal penalties, supported by CaliforniaWALKS and California Bicycle Coalition; hearing in Assembly Judiciary 04/23/13

AB-738 Public entity liability: bicycles: no changes so far, still a bad bill; hearing in Assembly Judiciary 04/23/13

AB-840: Vehicles: driver’s licenses: application requirements: stripped of all bicycling knowledge language, now only requires that drivers license applicants acknowledge the dangers of distracted driving

AB-956: Vehicle accidents: fleeing: no changes so far

AB-1002: Vehicles: registration fee: sustainable communities strategies: changed to remove urgency language and detail use for sustainable communities; still a good bill; hearing in Assembly Transportation 04/22/13

AB-1179 Regional transportation plan: sustainable communities strategy: schoolsites: language slightly diluted, still a good bill

AB-1193 Bikeways: allows cities and counties to use industry standards rather than the requiring the use of the Highway Design Manual; language improved, a great bill; hearing in Assembly Local Government 04/24/13

AB-1194: Safe Routes to School Program; maintains SRTS program at state level, added non-infrasture, statewide coordinator, and TARC; better; hearing in Assembly Transportation 04/15/13, 1:30PM

AB-1290: Transportation planning: broadens representation on the California Transportation Commission and requires reports on progress of transportation agencies in reaching sustainable community goals; seems to be a good bill; hearing in Assembly Transportation 04/29/13

AB-1371: Vehicles: bicycles: passing distance: this bill originally had a different purpose, and was revised to be a three foot passing law, it looks to me to be good; hearing in Assembly Transportation 04/22/13

Please let me know if you are aware of any other bills. I’ve signed up for tracking on these particular bills, but may not be keeping up to date.

Bike Score

Bike Score for Minneapolis, with “heat map”

The next stage from the folks at Walk Score, Bike Score, is now available, for a select 10 cities. There aren’t any big surprises, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Madison are at the top.

Sacramento is not on the list of 10. If you’d like to see it there, you can go to the Bike Score page and tweet a vote for it. Please do!

Walk Score also recently released Transit Score, where Sacramento is listed, as 22 out of the 25 largest cities with accessible transit data, at a score of 32. Both the Bike Score and Transit Score are created at a city-wide level, unlike the address-specific Walk Score. So these rankings are just first steps, but nevertheless interesting and useful.

You may have seen articles in the media recently about the high correlation between walkability and housing prices, with walkable communities in high demand and unworkable suburbs in the doldrums. This is good news for all of us. Walk Score was in fact designed as a tool for helping people find real estate and apartments in places that fit their desired lifestyle. As the correlation between walkable, bikeable, transit-dense communities and livability becomes more clear, resources (societal and personal) will be shifted away from the suburbs to urban areas.

Walk Score

Walk Score offers an assessment of the walkability of any location. It is available in any browser at http://walkscore.org/, and is also available as a free app for the iPhone and Android, and in any browser at https://www.walkscore.com. Walk Score is based on the distance to the places people want to go, such as grocery stores, restaurants, coffee shops, bars, movie theaters, schools, parks, libraries, bookstores, fitness locations, drug stores, hardware stores, and clothing & music.

I live at O St and 16 St in mid-town Sacramento P and 12th in downtown Sacramento, which has a WalkScore of 85, very walkable, shown at right. The R St and 16th St corridors, which have higher scores, are easy walking distance. The Neighborhood section of the app offers Walk Score, Transit Score, and Bike Score, but for the entire neighborhood of downtown, not for specific address.

The browser interface offers more information, for both specific addresses and general areas such as Sacramento. The graphic below is only part of the web page. Note that the results from the app and the web site are not the same, and I don’t know why, but they are similar enough that it should not make a big difference.

The exact algorithm that weights these amenities is not public, but you can get an idea by selecting the Street Smarts Walk Score option. Having six grocery stores within 0.6 miles, eight restaurants within 0.2 miles, and eight coffee shops within 0.3 miles supports my score. One critical item not on the list is farmers’ markets, which I would weight very highly, though the seasonal nature of most farmers’ markets might be a challenge. The closest one to me is two blocks away, but it only runs May through September. It is only 1.4 miles to the year-round farmers’ market at 8th St and W St. Some performance theatres show up in the movie theaters category, but some of them do not, so I’d make that a separate category since plays are such an important part of my life.

Continue reading “Walk Score”