SACOG honors SABA for arena work

SACOG salutes awardWhat an incredible honor to be recognized by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments with a SACOG Salutes award for our part in the collaborative effort to prevent ‘carmageddon’ during the opening of Golden 1 Center!

We are one of seven recipients of a special regional collaboration award, which also went to the City of Sacramento, Downtown Sacramento Partnership, Sacramento Regional Transit, Roseville Transit, Yolo County Transportation District (Yolobus) and the Sacramento Kings.

The group that received the award represents the complexity of creating a vibrant public place that integrates fully into the fabric of the community. The Golden 1 Center is located in a part of the Sacramento downtown grid where travel by bike is significantly challenging, due to one-way streets, intense traffic heading to and from I-5, streets with light rail tracks, multiblock building complexes (including the Golden 1 Center) that complicate crosstown travel, and most important, minimal bike infrastructure such as bike lanes and well-designed public bike parking.

sacogsalutesaward_2016We participated in the intensive Golden 1 Center planning process on behalf of people on bikes and while our efforts produced only modest results, we loudly made the case for the benefits of planning for bicycle transportation — not just by Kings fans and Golden 1 Center ticketholders, but by Golden 1 Center employees, other downtown workers, residents and visitors traveling past the arena.

We currently have a contract with the Golden 1 Center to provide Bike Valet services for Golden 1 Center events, which has further clarified the needs and challenges of traveling by bike in this part of the city, not least because the Golden 1 Center was built without a place for high-volume bike parking. We continue to work with the Kings and the City of Sacramento to solve this challenge.

Congratulations to all the SACOG Salutes award recipients and many thanks to SACOG!

2016 Accomplishments

SABA works in three main areas — advocacy, community engagement and technical assistance — to help create the conditions that enable more people to confidently choose a bike as safe, convenient everyday transportation. Here are highlights from our work this year:


Sacramento Bicycle Master Plan update

Bicycle Master Plan workshop in North Natomas
Bicycle Master Plan workshop in North Natomas

What we did: We participated on a technical advisory committee that provided input on goals and priorities for this minor update of Sacramento’s master plan.

Why it matters: A robust citywide plan is the key to realizing all the benefits of increased bicycle ridership, including cleaner air, less traffic congestion, safer streets, more robust retail activity in bike-friendly neighborhoods, and better access to opportunity.

Although this was not the major update Sacramento needs and deserves, the update includes important new features, including an analysis of neighborhood investments, to highlight the need for greater equity; guidelines for matching the appropriate bike infrastructure to each type of street; and stated goals for increasing ridership, improving safety, creating continuous connected bikeway networks, and ensuring that bike infrastructure investments are made equitably throughout the city.

What’s next in 2017: For budget reasons, the updated plan does not contain implementation measures. We’ll continue working with the City of Sacramento to find resources to implement the plan as well as begin conceptual planning on a major update within the next 4-5 years.

Vision Zero

Joseph Martinez was killed near this spot on 47th Ave. in South Sacramento on Sept. 22, 2015
Joseph Martinez was killed on his bike near this spot on 47th Ave. in South Sacramento on Sept. 22, 2015

What we did: We’re part of a community task force convened to advise the City of Sacramento Public Works Department on its action plan for implementing a Vision Zero program to eliminate serious and fatal traffic collisions.

Why it matters: A thoughtful, data-driven action plan will direct resources toward safety improvements and other strategies for safeguarding people on bikes. Sacramento has 5 times the rate of bicyclist fatalities as comparable cities with better bike infrastructure. Nearly all of those fatal collisions occur on major arterial streets like 47th Ave., due to the combination of heavy traffic, fast vehicle speeds and inadequate accommodation for bikes (e.g., poor bike lanes or no bike lanes).

What’s next in 2017: By next summer the City of Sacramento will begin community outreach to review a draft action plan. We plan to be an active partner in ensuring that neighborhood-level concerns are reflected in the plan.

Building Healthy Communities initiative

What we did: We continued to receive grant funding from The California Endowment to help improve health, safety and economic opportunity in the Building Health Communities area of South Sacramento. Among several projects, we partnered with WALKSacramento, another BHC grantee, to assess conditions for biking and walking along several major streets in South Sacramento.

Why is matters: The 10-year BHC initiative is intended to address fundamental health, safety and economic needs in the BHC area, while helping build the long-term capacity of neighborhood-focused organizations. We know that residents in lower-income neighborhoods are likelier to use a bike as everyday transportation, yet the BHC area has fewer bike routes and bike lanes, and significant physical obstacles such as large arterial streets and freeway overcrossings that make it more challenging to ride a bike.

What’s next in 2017: We plan to increase community engagement activities by recruiting and employing BHC-based bike mechanics and bike safety instructors to deliver free bike repairs and safety skills training to BHC residents.

Railyards bikeway network

Aerial view of the Railyards and the historic Southern Pacific RR shops looking south toward downtown Sacramento.

What we did: We reviewed plans and actively advised the Railyards development team on street improvements to make bicycling convenient, safe and comfortable within, to and from the Railyards. One of our main advocacy activities is to review development projects and provide recommendations and comments to improve conditions for bicycling.

Why it matters: The Railyards Specific Plan will govern development in the Railyards for the next 20-30 years, and most of the smaller streets haven’t yet been built. We worked to ensure that the plan provided for bike access from the beginning, especially to identify low-stress, family-friendly bike routes between the Sacramento River and the Sacramento Republic FC stadium site and between the historic Central Shops and the regional park planned for the north side of the development.

What’s next in 2017: With the amended Railyards Specific Plan now approved by the City of Sacramento, we’ll work with major Railyards property owners, including Kaiser Permanente and the Sacramento Republic FC, to ensure that their development projects align with the Specific Plan’s objectives.

Sidewalk riding ordinance

Sidewalk bicycling in Midtown Sacramento on a popular stretch of J Street without bike lanes.
Sidewalk bicycling in Midtown Sacramento on a popular stretch of J Street without bike lanes.

What we did: We helped ensure that proposed amendments to the Sacramento city ordinance regulating bicycles on sidewalks did not limit access for people traveling by bike in neighborhoods with unsafe streets.

Why it matters: Bicycling on sidewalks is unsafe and unfair to pedestrians. It mainly happens on streets that can’t be safely or conveniently used by bike. But enacting laws that punish sidewalk riding without making the streets safer forces people on bikes to choose between what’s legal and what’s safe — that’s unfair too.

Throughout the two-year-long public debate about amendments to Sacramento’s ordinance, we made sure City staff, elected officials, residents and the media understood why investing in bike lanes and other infrastructure improvements is the most effective way to encourage safe bicycling and protect pedestrians. To read about the rules for sharing the road, including rules about sidewalk riding, go here.

What’s next in 2017: We’ll monitor the City’s progress as it continues to implement the amended ordinance. Watch for the City to identify the first streets where sidewalk riding will be prohibited, most likely in the downtown Grid.

American River Parkway off-pavement bicycling pilot program

Off-pavement bicycling advocate Bob Horowitz interviewed about the pilot program
Off-pavement bicycling advocate Bob Horowitz interviewed about the pilot program.

What we did: We actively participated in and advocated for implementation of Sacramento County’s plan to allow bicycling on unpaved service roads in the Woodlake and Cal Expo areas of the American River Parkway, as authorized under the American River Parkway Plan.

Why it matters: The 3-year pilot program will enable more people to enjoy the American River Parkway by bike, increasing legitimate uses in a part of the parkway where recreational and transportation bicycling is heavily impacted by illegal camping, trash and wildfires. Sacramento County Parks receives $1M a year in Measure A sales tax revenues to maintain the Jedediah Smith biking and walking path, yet the unsafe conditions along the first 6 miles of path from Discovery Park means this annual investment isn’t producing all the benefits it could. Increased activity through off-pavement bicycling will make the Jedediah Smith path feel safer and more accessible.

What’s next in 2017: We’ll continue to participate as a stakeholder as Sacramento County Park launches the pilot program. We expect off-pavement trails to be open by the summer.

Rancho Cordova cycle track project

A physically separated bike lane on Routier Road would improve protection for people on bikes.
A physically separated bike lane on Routier Road would improve safety for people on bikes.

What we did: We provided public and behind-the-scenes support for the City of Rancho Cordova’s plan to install two miles of cycle tracks (AKA separated bikeways or protected bike lanes) along Routier Road and Rod Beaudry Drive between Old Placerville Road and the American River Parkway.

Why it matters: This project is likely to be the first cycle track project completed in our region outside of Davis. Similar projects in other communities have significantly increased bicycle ridership and improved bicyclist safety. We see this project as a model for the rest of the region.

What’s next in 2017: The City of Rancho Cordova has received federal funding to plan and engineer the project. We’ll remain involved as a community stakeholder to ensure that the project meets its objectives.

Community engagement

Bike Valet

Bike Valet at Food Truck Mania in Tahoe Park. We're parking City Councilmember Eric Guerra's bike!
Bike Valet at Food Truck Mania in Tahoe Park. That’s City Councilmember Eric Guerra and his bike.

What we did: We parked some 15,000 bikes at nearly 300 individual community events that took place from Davis to Ione and North Natomas to Elk Grove.

Why it matters: Bike Valet turns community events into bikeable destinations. We provide people on bikes with reliable parking where otherwise none might be available, while event organizers who hire us recognize the value of supporting their customers and clients who travel by bike.

What’s next in 2017: We’ll use Bike Valet events to raise SABA’s profile and help generate public support for our advocacy priorities.

Bike Doc

Bike Doc mechanic Glenn Small explains repairs to a Bike Doc customer.
Bike Doc mechanic Glenn Small explains repairs to a Bike Doc customer.

What we did: Through a contract with the North Natomas Transportation Management Association, we employed the bike mechanics who performed free diagnostics and simple repairs on 687 bikes at 23 Bike Doc events organized at schools, parks and residential complexes.

Why it matters: The 100,000 residents of the Natomas area (South and North) are served by just one bike shop. Without ready access to basic repairs, people can’t ride safely or can’t ride at all.

What’s next in 2017: We’ll expand our bike mechanic services to other parts of the region that also have little or no access to bike shop services.

Townie Rides

What we did: We partnered with City Bicycle Works to host regular social rides to Bike Dog Brewing in West Sacramento and other local craft breweries.

Why it matters: Social rides build community among people who want to explore the community with likeminded others. These rides offer a friendly introduction to SABA, for those who don’t already know us. And we love having the opportunity to partner with and promote local small businesses.

What’s next in 2017: More Townie Rides each month! We’ll also look for opportunities to organize other kinds of social rides around different themes.

Technical assistance

Power Inn Alliance active transportation study

Heavy, fast traffic makes Power Inn Road challenging for people walking and biking for transportation.
Heavy, fast traffic makes Power Inn Road challenging for people walking and biking for transportation.

What we did: We’re contracting with the Power Inn Alliance to partner with WALKSacramento to assess needs and opportunities for travel by bicycling, walking and public transit within the Power Inn Alliance boundaries, mainly between US 50 and Florin Road.

What it matters: Employers in this primarily industrial neighborhood employ many low-wage workers who must travel by bike, walking or public transit. However, heavy truck and rail traffic and large busy streets like Power Inn, Franklin, Florin and Florin-Perkins create obstacles to safe travel, limiting employment and economic development opportunities.

What’s next in 2017: We’ll evaluate existing plans, survey employers, workers and residents, and assess the physical environment to identify and prioritize needs and opportunities that Power Inn Alliance can champion with public agencies. This nonprofit-private-public partnership could be a model for similar projects elsewhere in the region.

Assemble Sacramento

Assemble Sacramento site
The project site is the location of a passenger station when the Clarksburg Branch Line was an active rail line.

What we did: We receive donations and handle bookkeeping on behalf of this project to develop a privately funded, publicly constructed rest area along the Clarksburg Branch Line Trail in West Sacramento.

Why it matters: Our role in the project is limited, however, we see this kind of nonprofit-private-public partnership as an innovative way to make infrastructure improvements in our region, including future Assemble Sacramento projects.

What’s next in 2017: We’ll continue to serve on Assemble Sacramento’s steering committee, manage the accounting, and help promote efforts to raises funds for the proposed trail improvement.

SABA supports Measure B

Measure B on the Nov. 8 ballot can help fix Sacramento County’s most hazardous streets for people on bikes. SABA supports Measure B and urges a YES vote.

Margaret Bengs
Margaret Bengs

On Nov. 2, 2015, bicyclist Margaret Bengs was fatally injured on Fair Oaks Blvd. in Carmichael, where she was hit in the center turn lane by a driver turning from Kenneth Ave. There is no traffic signal or stop sign for Fair Oaks Blvd. traffic at Kenneth Ave. and no bike lanes on Fair Oaks Blvd. If Fair Oaks Blvd. had these improvements, Margaret Bengs would probably still be alive.

Major streets like Fair Oaks Blvd. are where most of the fatal bicycle collisions occur in Sacramento County. In the past 18 months, 13 other bicyclists have died in collisions on Auburn Blvd., East Natoma Street in Folsom, Edison Ave., El Camino Ave. (3 fatal collisions), Elkhorn Blvd. in Rio Linda (2 fatal collisions), Folsom Blvd., Howe Ave., Marconi Ave., Stockton Blvd. and 47th Ave.

Fair Oaks Blvd. at Kenneth Ave.
Margaret Bengs was hit and fatally injured in the center turn lane on Fair Oaks Blvd. at Kenneth Ave.
Joseph Martinez was killed near this spot on 47th Ave. in South Sacramento on Sept. 22, 2015
Joseph Martinez was hit and killed on the right side of 47th Ave. in South Sacramento on Sept. 22, 2015.
In Nov. 2012, Molly Arndt was killed by a hit-and-run driver on Stockton Blvd. who left a 100-foot skid mark before hitting her.
On Nov. 11, 2012, Molly Arndt was killed on Stockton Blvd. by a speeding hit-and-run driver who left a 100-foot-long skid mark before hitting her.

All these streets share similar characteristics: 2 to 3 traffic lanes in each direction, speed limits of 35 MPH or faster, and distances up to a mile or more between intersections with signals or stop signs, all conditions that encourage drivers to speed. In collisions where the vehicle speed reaches 40 MPH, about nine out of 10 bicyclists die.

Improving major streets to safeguard people on bikes requires funding, yet there is less state and federal funding available even as competition among public agencies continues to increase.

Measure B would add a half-cent to the countywide sales tax for the next 30 years, generating $120M a year in revenues controlled by Sacramento County and the cities of Citrus Heights, Elk Grove, Folsom, Galt, Isleton, Rancho Cordova and Sacramento, with 70% of the revenues reserved for road improvements and 30% for specified public transit improvements. Measure B contains an expenditure plan that specifies projects and categories of improvements on which revenues can be spent within each jurisdiction.

Passage of Measure B would help create safer conditions for people on bikes in three ways:

A road diet and new bike lanes on Freeport Blvd. in Land Park were installed as part of a City of Sacramento repaving project.
A road diet and new bike lanes on Freeport Blvd. in Land Park were installed as part of a City of Sacramento repaving project.

First, local jurisdictions would be required to spend 75% of revenues on repaving and road rehabilitation projects for the first five years, the requirement known as “Fix it First.” Repaving a street requires repainting the pavement markings, and many of the improvements needed for making bicycling safer – adding bike lanes and marked crossings and reducing the number and width of traffic lanes (“road diets”) – mainly involve pavement markings. For example, on streets where bike lanes are planned, the City of Sacramento routinely installs them when the street is repaved. Repaving a significant number of streets over the next 5 years will create the opportunity to dramatically accelerate the installation of bike infrastructure.

Bike lane striping being added on 65th St. near Folsom Blvd. after repaving
Bike lane striping being added on 65th St. near Folsom Blvd. after repaving.

Second, Measure B specifies that revenues will be spent on projects that implement local bicycle master plans. The bicycle master plans for the city and county of Sacramento and city of Rancho Cordova include protected bike lane projects that improve safety but are more expensive to install than conventional bike lanes. Measure B revenues can serve as matching funds that local jurisdictions need when seeking state and federal grants to pay for these kinds of projects.

Third, Measure B specifies 18 arterial streets in unincorporated Sacramento County where funding will be used for so-called “complete streets” improvements, including bike lanes, pedestrian crossings and public transit facilities that help slow traffic speeds, improve visibility and accommodate all modes of travel. Fair Oaks Blvd., Auburn Blvd., El Camino Ave., Elkhorn Blvd., Howe Ave., Marconi Ave. and 47th Ave., streets where 10 bicyclists have died in collisions over the past 18 months, are among the streets named in the Measure B expenditure plan.

When our roads are safer and more comfortable for bicycling, more people can confidently choose a bike for everyday travel, including the many people who continue to drive because they don’t feel safe riding under current road conditions. In fact, would-be bicyclists outnumber current bicyclists by 5 to one. Creating conditions sufficiently safe to attract those would-be bicyclists could have a significant, long-term benefit for regional traffic congestion and air quality.

But realizing these benefits will require more than just increased funding. Making the most of Measure B will also require the adoption and implementation of comprehensive best practices policies for street design, bicycling, public transit and roadway safety; the commitment of public agencies to engage and listen to residents; and the political will to commit resources and correct inequities that produced unequal transportation investments across neighborhoods (often at the expense of the least advantaged residents).

Not all of the local jurisdictions have robust plans and policies or sufficient political will to commit to them. If Sacramento County voters approve Measure B, SABA and allies that advocate for neighborhoods, equity, public transit and the environment will have to work hard to ensure that Measure B expenditures are cost-effective and directed where they’re needed most. Sacramento’s new Vision Zero program is an example of a policy that can help ensure that Measure B revenues produce genuine safety benefits for bicyclists, pedestrians and transit riders.

Everyone in our region benefits when more people can use a bike as safe, convenient everyday transportation. But without adequate funding, roadway conditions will continue to deteriorate, endangering those who currently ride while deterring those who will only ride once our roads are safer.

Our region can’t afford to miss this opportunity to make essential improvements to our roads. Vote YES on Measure B on Nov. 8.


Yes on Measure B website
Measure B fact sheet (Sacramento Transportation Authority)
Measure B expenditure plan (Sacramento Transportation Authority)

Bike-friendly report card

In awarding Sacramento the silver Bicycle Friendly Community designation, the League of American Bicyclists provided this report card.

LAB Report Card for Sac - Spring 2016

Freeport bike lane project begins

Northbound bike traffic just north of C.K. McClatchy High School
Looking south at northbound bike traffic near C.K. McClatchy High School

For many years the trip along Freeport Blvd. for students riding bikes to and from C.K McClatchy High School and Sacramento City College involved the choice between riding with fast-moving cars, trucks and buses or riding in the gutter to avoid those hazards — there aren’t bike lanes along Freeport Blvd. between 4th Ave. and Sac City College.

Freeport Blvd project mapThis month, Freeport Blvd. is finally being reconfigured to accommodate bike traffic. Work began in late May and continues into mid-August, when the fall session at C.K. McClatchy High School begins. The Sacramento City Council approved the project nearly four years ago. McClatchy students began pressuring the City of Sacramento to make these improvements a decade ago.

The project involves resealing and restriping this mile stetch of Freeport Blvd. to collapse four travel lanes for cars into three lanes – one in each direction and a center turn lane – and add bike lanes on both sides. Several crosswalks will be also added and two bus stops will be modified. The project will significantly improve convenience and safety for people traveling along and across this section of Freeport Blvd. Businesses reachable by an easy bike ride or walk will also benefit from the improvements.

Looking north near C.K. McClatchy High School

The biggest element of the project is replacement of rolled curbs with vertical curbs along the west side of Freeport from Vallejo St. to Park Road, opposite Sac City College. Vertical curbs have a narrower gutter pan that accommodates bike lanes.

Looking south at the driveway to C.K. McClatchy High School

The street has already been temporarily restriped to create space for work crews along the west side. This explains why bike lanes have not yet been added – they’ll be installed after the curb phase is completed around the first week of August and the street is resealed and restriped.


New arena bike parking survey

The City of Sacramento and the Sacramento Kings are developing a plan to provide parking for up to 500 bikes at events at the Golden 1 Center in downtown Sacramento. We’ve prepared a short survey to help us recommend possible locations for staffed, secure bike parking. Please take a moment to share your thoughts.



The Squeaky Wheel – April 2016

Better bicycling on the American River Parkway
Sacramento embraces Vision Zero
New hires
Supporting SABA
Bike shorts

Better bicycling on the American River Parkway

Pilot 1Sacramento County Parks is implementing a 3-year pilot program to allow off-pavement bicycling in the Woodlake and Cal Expo areas of the American River Parkway. The pilot program is contained in the American River Parkway Plan, which governs parkway operations west of Hazel Ave. (California State Parks administers the parkway east of Hazel.)

In February the American River Parkway Advisory Committee hosted a public hearing to solicit comments on the proposed implementation plan. Revisions to that proposed plan are now being circulated for public comment through April 20.

Chris Shultz on ARP
Chris Shultz

Meanwhile, SABA board member Chris Shultz has been appointed to a seat on the American River Parkway Advisory Committee. Chris is an all-around rider – road cycling, bike commuting, family riding, cyclocross and mountain biking – and he knows the parkway. He was formerly chief of staff to then-Assemblymember (now California Insurance Commissioner) Dave Jones, who carried the 2008 legislation that created the American River Parkway Plan.

Sacramento embraces Vision Zero

Hit & run - North SacFour people on bikes have died in traffic collisions in our region in the past six months. The Sacramento City Council recently directed City staff to implement a Vision Zero policy to prevent traffic deaths. We’re partnering with WALKSacramento to develop a model Vision Zero policy for the South Sacramento neighborhoods where most of the city’s fatal bike and pedestrian collisions occur. Read more here.

New hires

We’re pleased to introduce new members of SABA’s team: Bike Valet Manager Aaron Curtin, Volunteer & Community Engagement Manager Erin Healy, and Bike Doc Manager Michael Claudio.

Aaron lives in Davis, where he owns Apex Cycles & Service. His duties at SABA involve managing our most visible program, including a team of nine Bike Valet Leads. Last year Bike Valet staff and volunteers parked 15,000 bikes at 167 events.

Erin recently retired as Operations and Program Chief for the California Conservation Corps, where she began her career as a corpsman. At SABA Erin manages volunteer recruitment, orientation and recognition, and community engagement activities such as trail clean-ups and bike theft prevention.

Michael is a cycling coach and personal trainer with a background in healthcare administration. He manages the team of mechanics who work for the North Natomas Transportation Management Association’s Bike Doc program.

We’ve also recently hired Bike Valet Lead Pilar Medina and Bike Doc mechanics Glenn Small, Chris Stastny, Dennis King, Rich Hendricks and Andreas Castellanos.

Aaron Curtin
Aaron Curtin
Michael Claudio
Michael Claudio
Erin Healy
Erin Healy

Supporting SABA

BDOG2016_LogoNoTag_245x200pxWe depend on support from individuals like you so we can advocate for better conditions for bicycling in our region. Right now we’re involved with several fundraising campaigns that will help support our work.

The Big Day of Giving is an annual 24-hour online fundraising challenge on Tues., May 3. SABA is one of nearly 600 local nonprofit organizations taking part. You’ll start hearing more about how to participate in the coming weeks.

Mel Melvin
Mel Melvin

SABA board members Mel Melvin and Ryan Sharpe are taking part in Climate Ride California from Fortuna to San Francisco, May 22-26. Like the rides organized to benefit disease research, this ride benefits organizations like SABA that work on behalf of clean air and environmental stewardship. Read about how to support (or join) Mel and Ryan.

This month the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op is conducting a vote to select recipients of its bag token program and SABA is a nominee. If you shop at the Co-op and use your own bag, you receive a token you can direct to one of several nonprofits. The Co-op gives 5 cents per token to each recipient, typically $200-300 a month. Cast your vote for SABA by Apr. 22! (You don’t have to be a Co-op shopper to vote).

SNFC logo

Bike shorts

El Dorado TrailSupporters of a plan to accommodate bikes on the El Dorado Trail, a former Southern Pacific Railroad line between Folsom and Placerville, are circulating a petition to the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors about the local economic benefits of allowing bikes on the entire trail.

Registration is now open for May is Bike Month. When you register, you’re eligible for prize drawings (socks!) and online badges.

GreatScottWebVersionKick off May is Bike Month on Sunday, May 1 with the Great Scott! Bike and Walk Event on 30 miles of car-free roads on the east side of Sacramento County, including Scott Road south of US 50.

Also on May 1, North Natomas Transportation Management Association hosts the Know Your Spine Trail Ride. Explore the newly completed off-street path that connects Airport Road near San Juan Road and I-80 with Elkhorn Blvd.

Vision Zero

Freeport Blvd. near CK McClatchy High School
Freeport Blvd. near CK McClatchy High School

A growing number of cities in the U.S. and in Europe – including Sacramento – have embraced Vision Zero, an approach to planning safety improvements conceived in Sweden in the late 1990s that sets the goal of preventing severe injuries and deaths caused by traffic collisions. It takes a systems approach that recognizes that public agencies, transportation providers and road users are equally responsible for safety, and that road must be designed to protect against human error.

Last summer the Sacramento City Council voted to direct the Public Works Department staff to develop a Vision Zero plan for Sacramento. This fall, the Public Works staff invited SABA and other stakeholders, including representatives from other City of Sacramento departments, to be part of a task force to help develop Sacramento’s Vision Zero action plan.

SABA is a member of the City of Sacramento's Vision Zero task force, which is committed to reducing severe and fatal traffic collisions to zero.

During late winter and early spring 2017, the task force will review citywide collision data, including details about the factors contributing to collisions that caused severe injuries and deaths. Based on the data, the task force will develop a draft action plan with possible interventions related to engineering (e.g., street and intersection design), education and enforcement. Later next year the City of Sacramento will review the possible interventions with neighborhood and community groups as the last step in developing a final action plan.

By involving residents and neighborhood groups from the start, the City benefits from the knowledge of people who use these streets every day and also generates a higher degree of community buy-in. Infrastructure projects developed with substantial guidance from residents improves the City of Sacramento’s competitiveness for state and federal funding that give priority to projects with strong community support.

Stockton Blvd. at Fruitridge Rd.
Northbound Stockton Blvd. at Fruitridge Rd. in South Sacramento

Meanwhile, SABA has been tracking fatal bike collisions in our region. Since May 2015, 13 people on bikes have died in traffic collisions within Sacramento County, including 4 within Sacramento city limits. Twelve of the collisions occurred on main arterial streets with long distances between intersections controlled by traffic signals or stop signs, and speed limits at or over 35 MPH, both conditions that enable drivers to speed. (In collisions where the vehicle is traveling 40 MPH, nine out of ten bicyclists die.)

Based on what we’ve learned about these collisions, vehicle speed, road designs that don’t adequately accommodate bike traffic, and close proximity between vehicles and bikes are likely factors in why those collisions occurred.

Residents question Bait Bike plan

South Sac Bait Bike meeting
Councilmember Larry Carr opens the meeting

Could the Bait Bike program already in place in downtown Sacramento be a way to prevent bike theft in South Sacramento?

Or is it an effort by the Sacramento Police Department to entrap at-risk youth in a part of the city where many residents — many of them low-income people of color — feel ignored by the City of Sacramento and highly mistrustful of law enforcement?

These were some of the questions aired at a community meeting hosted on Feb. 29 in South Sacramento by Councilmembers Larry Carr and Rick Jennings in response to plans to implement a Bait Bike program along Mack Road near Hwy 99. More than 50 residents attended the meeting, which attracted local TV news crews.

bait-bikeThe Sacramento Police Department works with neighborhood businesses associations to use Bait Bikes — bikes locked in public places and “baited” with special technology that allows them to be tracked if stolen — to capture bike thieves.

Sac PD deployed Bait Bikes 168 times in several downtown Sacramento neighborhoods in 2015 and captured 60 thieves, 59 of them repeat offenders. Most of those arrested were white males ages 30-49. So far no juveniles have been arrested for stealing a Bait Bike. Councilmembers Carr and Jennings both emphasized the importance of getting repeat offenders off the street.

The discussion at the meeting focused not on the benefits of preventing bike theft — there was general agreement about the need to prevent theft of all kinds — but how and why the Bait Bike program was chosen as a priority.

Many residents, including young people, expressed concern about impacts on at-risk youth. Several residents were concerned that juveniles who might be arrested for stealing a Bait Bike could end up in prison. District Attorney representatives explained that youth offenders would face diversion programs, not jail, and also explained why the Bait Bikes program doesn’t constitute illegal entrapment (here’s why: it’s not a form of coercion).

Some residents at the meeting asked why the $1,000 spent on each Bait Bike — a value that makes the theft a felony, not just a misdemeanor — couldn’t be used for programs and services that benefit youth. One resident questioned whether arresting repeat offenders was actually effective, as nearly all Bait Bike offenders have long arrest records for prior thefts.

Several residents criticized the Sac PD for preparing to implement the program without having talked to residents or asked what they needed or wanted. Afterwards, the pastor of the church that hosted the meeting pointed out that Mack Road doesn’t even have bike lanes.

We have our own questions:

– What do we actually know about bike theft in South Sacramento? We already know that very few South Sac destinations have bike racks, which forces people to lock up in places that make their bikes much more vulnerable to theft.

– Are Bait Bikes the best way to prevent bike theft in a neighborhood that has virtually no bike shops and few other places to buy a U-lock?

– What can the Sac PD tell us about whether Bait Bike offenders are being convicted and jailed? Do we know if the rate of bike theft is dropping because of this program?

– Is arresting bike thieves the most valuable way to serve residents in a part of the city with the highest number of serious and fatal bike collisions?

We see an opportunity for the City of Sacramento to look more comprehensively at how it accommodates and serves South Sac residents who travel by bike, and we’re already partnering with neighborhood representatives to see what’s possible.


Off-road biking on the Parkway

Pilot 1
Reviewing maps with County Parks staff

After years of debate, off-road bicycling could finally be allowed on the American River Parkway near Woodlake and Cal Expo under a 3-year pilot program to be implemented by Sacramento County Parks.

The program would create new recreational bicycling opportunities for residents of North Sacramento, Arden Arcade and nearby neighborhoods.

By bringing more activity into this part of the Parkway, the program could also help discourage the illegal activities that make the area feel dangerous to many recreational and commuter bicyclists and other visitors.

Off-road bicycling would be allowed between Del Paso Blvd. to Ethan Way on the north side of the American River. Off-road riding would be limited to existing unpaved fire roads and maintenance roads in that area, and continue to be prohibited on existing equestrian trails. No new trails would be built as part of the program.

Off-road bicycling is allowed along Lake Natoma.
Off-road bicycling is allowed along Lake Natoma. Photo by FATRAC

The pilot will allow Sacramento County Parks to measure impacts as the way determine whether off-road bicycling could be allowed in other areas of the Parkway. Off-road bicycling is already allowed upstream from Hazel Ave., where the Parkway is managed by California State Parks.

A citizen advisory group developed the pilot program in 2008 as part of the American River Parkway Plan, which covers management of the Parkway between Discovery Park and Hazel Ave. Sacramento County and the cities of Sacramento and Rancho Cordova adopted the plan in 2008. Local advocate Bob Horowitz deserves huge credit and thanks for spearheading this project since then.

Pilot 2
American River Parkway Advisory Committee workshop. Photo by Brian Asch

On Feb. 19, 2016, Sacramento County’s American River Parkway Advisory Committee hosted the first of several public workshops to gather feedback and ideas for the implementation plan. Dozens of local advocates for off-road bicycling reviewed maps and commented on staff recommendations for managing trails during wet weather, protecting sensitive habitat, and minimizing potential conflicts with other Parkway users.

Sacramento County Parks staff estimates that costs for the program will be minimal and have very little impact on Parkway operations, as ranger patrols, restrooms, trash collection and signage are already provided or budgeted for that area.

After concluding public workshops, County Parks staff will make recommendations for implementing the pilot program to the American River Parkway Advisory Committee (SABA has a seat on this committee), which will vote on the implementation plan. The Sacramento County Parks & Recreation Commission and Board of Supervisors will also be asked to approve the plan.