Author Archives: SABA

Bumpy ride to shared mobility

For once, it’s not just about bikes.

The latest disruptions in the shared mobility revolution hit the headlines this week, with Slate, Wired and other major news outlets reporting on the pushback against the largely unregulated deployment of shared electric scooters in San Francisco. The City Attorney there has issued a cease and desist order against Bird, LimeBike and Spin while the Board of Supervisors decides how to regulate them.

Photo by San Francisco City Attorney’s Office

For bike advocates, this story is familiar — bike share systems are controversial — and more complicated than it may seem. Scooter share could help people get out of their cars, and that would be good for people on bikes. But that hasn’t been the case so far with Uber and Lyft – they’re putting more cars on the street while luring customers away from public transit. It’s possible scooter share won’t attract drivers but instead attract people who don’t want to wait for the bus.

Photo by San Francisco City Attorney’s Office

The conflicts created for pedestrians when share scooters are parked and ridden on sidewalks (riding them on sidewalks is illegal in California) put pressure on cities to provide bike lanes and quieter streets where they can be legally ridden. That’s hardly a bad thing for people on bikes. We definitely need more bike lanes, especially protected bike lanes. And anyway, if bicycling continues to boom, they’ll be busier. How much does it matter if we share them with e-scooters too?

When that pressure comes from the business community and companies like Bird, LimeBike and Spin, that’s also a good thing. Providing for more and better transportation options should be everyone’s business, and not just what organizations like SABA talk about.

But should local government be expected to pay for the infrastructure where companies like Bird, LimeBike and Spin run their business and, presumably, make their fortunes? Airlines pay fees that help cover the cost of building and maintaining publicly owned airports. What should we be asking from Bird, LimeBike and their competitors – especially when they operate (or prefer to operate) without any regulation, including payment of permit fees? This was the crux of the debate over AirBnB a few years back.

Photo by San Francisco City Attorney’s Office

The endgame for companies like Bird, LimeBike and Spin –- or rather, for the venture capitalists who fund them — is autonomous vehicles. By deploying shared bikes and scooters, these companies are getting a feel for their customers, testing the user interface and learning how to navigate the regulatory landscape. So don’t be surprised if you see LimeBike turn away from bike share entirely (we’ve been hearing that rumor) while the business model continues to morph.

For those of us devoted to making transportation healthful and safe and creating human-scale cities, it may be a bumpy ride in the meantime.

Rails to trail in Rancho Cordova

In January the City of Rancho Cordova broke ground on the Mather Heritage Trail along the former rail line running between Folsom Blvd. and the former Mather Air Force Base (now Mather Airport).  When it opens this fall, the 1.25 miles of walking and biking path will serve as a new, car-free connection over US-50 in a community divided by the freeway.

For people on bikes, the ride on Mather Field Road currently requires merging across entrance and exit ramps to US-50 where traffic typically travels well over 50 MPH. There are no bike lanes and no marked crossings at the ramps, and also no sidewalks on the west side of the road — all significant deterrents to biking and walking.

Looking south on Mather Field Road near US-50 overcrossing

SABA had a role in finding the seed money for the trail. In 2009, a coalition of neighborhood and environmental groups that included SABA successfully sued Caltrans for failing to adequately assess environmental impacts of proposed HOV lanes on US-50. In addition to redesigning the HOV lane project, Caltrans agreed to provide $820,000 for the Mather Heritage Trail.

Looking north from Rockingham Drive

Residents who live next to trail projects like this one often worry about the potential impacts on safety, property values and privacy. With this project, however, neighbors welcomed the trail as a way to address what they saw as a safety hazard from unauthorized camping along the abandoned, fenced-off rail line. They recognized the value of bringing legitimate activity into the area as the way to make it safer for more people, a basic principle of what’s known as crime prevention through environmental design.

Multi-use trails are beneficial in many ways, especially for the health of trail users and the overall livability of surrounding neighborhoods. Those benefits extend to the entire community, including people who won’t or can’t use the trail, by reducing traffic, improving health and improving air quality. The Mather Heritage Trail leads north to the Mather-Mills light rail station, providing a direct, comfortable, car-free way to reach to public transit, another way that trails can help get people out of cars.

River trail will fill critical gap

The American River is one of the region’s most significant environmental and recreational assets. As early as 1915, the City of Sacramento envisioned a parkway along the river. Today the American River Parkway attracts nearly as many visitors per year as Yosemite National Park.

Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail | Photo by Tim Reese

For the neighborhoods west of Howe Ave., the American River is mostly accessible from the north side, via the paved Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail (AKA ARP bike trail). West of H Street, the only paved access is the Two Rivers Trail, which currently runs between Tiscornia Park and Hwy. 160 and between Sutter’s Landing Park and the Union Pacific Railroad bridge, a 0.7-mile segment that opened in January.

The City of Sacramento is currently designing the next phase, a 2.4-mile stretch from the Union Pacific RR bridge to H Street to open in 2019. The project involves paving the existing dirt maintenance road at the base of the levee that’s been open to the public for more than 50 years. The paved trail will be used for walking and biking as well as for levee maintenance vehicles, and will include decomposed granite shoulders for walking and running.

Existing maintenance road looking west from Glenn Hall Park | Photo by Mapio.net

View looking upstream | Illustration by City of Sacramento

When completed, the Two Rivers Trail will run continuously between Sac State and the Sacramento River, giving more access to the south side of the Parkway, and creating a second connection between the American River Parkway and the Sacramento River Parkway, and, eventually, the Great California Delta Trail and El Dorado Trail.

For bike commuters who travel between the American River Parkway and the Grid via Sac State, the trail would provide a continuous, calm, off-street alternative to routes through East Sacramento that all involve dealing with heavy traffic at 29th Street, 30th Street and Alhambra Blvd., and traffic heading to and from Capital City Freeway ramps at E, G, H, J, N, P, Q and T streets.

This alternative could even help get cars off the road. For every person currently riding a bike, there are five drivers who say they’re interested in riding for transportation, but not willing to share the road with motor vehicles. Creating conditions that attract these drivers can help reduce vehicle traffic and improve regional air quality.

Early this summer the City of Sacramento will issue its environmental analysis of the project for public comment.

The Nest moves ahead in West Sac

This month the Nest project along the Clarksburg Branch Line Trail in West Sacramento moved a lot closer to completion.

The West Sacramento City Council unanimously approved a license to allow Assemble Sacramento, the all-volunteer organization behind the project, to build the small park improvement for trail users just south of Lake Washington Blvd. SABA is the project’s fiscal sponsor, responsible for processing donations as well as bookkeeping and accounting.

The trail runs along the old Clarksburg Branch Line Railroad right-of-way between West Sacramento and Clarksburg. The first 1.25 miles of paved trail opened in 2014. The City of West Sacramento owns the entire right-of-way all the way to Clarksburg, and is currently seeking grant funding to pave more of it.

Clarksburg Branch Line Trail | Photo by West Sacramento Parks Department

The Nest will be a fenced enclosure with several small tables and fixed chairs, a shade structure, water fountain and landscaping. The name and design are meant to recall the habitat of water birds native to the area.

In addition to being the first park improvement along the trail, the project is unique because it will be a public amenity built by the City with funds raised privately by Assemble Sacramento.

A similar public-private approach was used to build privately funded playground improvements in the Bridgeway Island neighborhood in West Sacramento. The public-private model enables the City to use public funds for park improvements in underserved neighborhoods in the north part of West Sacramento.

We know from multi-use trails around the nation that improvements like this one will attract more people to use the trail, improving its value for recreation, transportation and the environment. And as we’ve seen elsewhere, bringing more activity to this location will make this section of the trail that much safer for everyone. The design of the Nest reflects the principles of crime prevention through environmental design, an approach to facility design that emphasizes visibility, accessibility and activity.

Bridgeway Island Park next to Bridgeway Island Elementary School.

In response to concerns about the location and design raised by parents of students at Our Lady of Grace School, located across the trail from the Nest site, Assemble Sacramento modified the design and also agreed to pay for relocating school playground equipment away from the trail and building a ball wall and planting trees to block views of the playground.

Our region has dozens of public parks located directly next to schools. At Bridgeway Island Elementary School in West Sacramento, a public park facility similar to the Nest is located along the west end of the school’s unfenced playing field. At Blue Oaks Park in Roseville, a branch of the Pleasant Grove Creek Trail runs through at a Nest-like gathering area next to the Blue Oaks Elementary School’s playground. In South Natomas, the Bannon Creek Parkway trail runs directly behind Bannon Creek and Jefferson elementary schools. In fact, most of the public parks in South Natomas are located directly next to schools.

Blue Oaks Park and Pleasant Grove Creek Trail next to Blue Oaks Elementary in Roseville

The Nest likely won’t be the only improvement for trail users in this area. Other groups have proposed installing a rose garden and a picnic area for horseback riders directly next to the Nest site. Equestrians are authorized to use the Clarksburg trail.

Two years ago the Center for Land-Based Learning opened the 3.3-acre Lake Washington Farm and farmstand about 200 yards north of the Nest location. River City High School and neighboring West Sacramento Recreation Center are both located about 400 yards down the trail from the Nest site.

Bike share continues to morph

The Sacramento region continues to move towards the launch of bike share operations, but the process has not been smooth or without surprises (hint: get ready for shared e-scooters).

We have a strong interest in the potential of bike share as a means for replacing car trips with bike trips: fewer car trips means cleaner air for everyone, while more bikes on the road improves safety for all roadway users. The rapidly evolving model for delivering bike share, including shared mobility devices other than bikes, is being felt in our region, as local governments work hard to keep up. Here’s the latest news.

Sacramento regulates

On Mar. 21, the Sacramento City Council approved an ordinance that sets standards for bike share businesses wanting to operate in Sacramento, with different impacts on different bike share providers.

Sacramento’s new ordinance requires bikes to be equipped with locks to allow locking to a bike rack, a requirement that would force operators like LimeBike and Spin, which only deploy self-locking bikes, to redesign their bikes in order to qualify for an operating permit.

Share bikes in Coronado. Photo by Eduardo Contrera/Union-Tribune

To prevent bike share bikes from displacing personally owned bikes from bike racks, bike share businesses must provide 1.5 public bike parking spaces (usable by anyone) for every bike they deploy. The ordinance also prohibits any bicyclist from leaving a bike where it prevents pedestrians from passing through (this applies to personally owned bikes as well as share bikes).

This provision is meant to head off the kinds of problems experienced in places like Washington, D.C, Seattle, Dallas and most recently Coronado, CA, where business and property owners increasingly see self-locking bike share bikes as a public nuisance.

The ordinance also covers shared electric scooters, the newest form of shared mobility technology, and similar shared devices. Providers of shared e-scooters would have to meet all the requirements for bike share businesses.

Sacramento will also require electric bike share bikes to be equipped for a maximum operating speed of 15 MPH. Sacramento is the first U.S. city to impose such a cap, although some European countries have capped e-bike operating speeds at 25 KPH or about 15.5 MPH. The City justifies the cap as a safety feature, however, there is little research to demonstrate the link between e-bike operating speeds  and safety.

This requirement will impact JUMP Bike, operator of the SACOG regional bike share system that will launch North America’s largest electric bike share fleet in Sacramento, West Sacramento and Davis this spring. At our request, the City agreed to revisit this provision in a year, once data is available about usage, speeds and crashes. We respect the City’s safety concerns and also want to ensure that City policies are based on data, evidence and best practices.

LimeBike bails on Rancho Cordova and Folsom

Last month the cities of Rancho Cordova and Folsom both issued permits to allow LimeBike to begin operating this spring. And then on Mar. 19, LimeBike announced that it was backing out, citing the impacts of Sacramento’s bike share ordinance.

LimeBike told the cities it had counted on operating in the urban center of Sacramento as the way to make its suburban operations in the east county succeed – which was news to both cities and stakeholders, as LimeBike hadn’t previously stated its intention to operate in Sacramento. Bike share systems typically succeed in denser, more urbanized neighborhoods that can generate enough ridership. We haven’t seen evidence from other cities that entirely suburban settings, like Rancho Cordova and Folsom, can support bike share operations.

West Sacramento gets e-scooters

The Lime-S e-scooter from LimeBike. Photo by Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman

Early this month, West Sacramento issued a permit to LimeBike to deploy 100 e-scooters in the riverfront area near City Hall and Raley Field. LimeBike currently operates its Lime-S e-scooters in San Francisco, San Jose and San Diego.

State law allows them to be ridden wherever bikes can operate, including bike lanes and off-street bike paths, but not on streets with speed limits over 25 MPH that don’t also bike lanes and never on sidewalks. Riders must be 16 or older, have a driver’s license and wear a helmet.

With very few e-scooters currently being operated in the region, it’s hard to predict the actual impact of LimeBike e-scooters on bicycle transportation, however, we’ll track the roll-out in West Sacramento to ensure that e-scooter users don’t impede trips by bike.

Sacramentans on bikes can probably expect to encounter a few Lime-S e-scooters ridden across the Tower Bridge into downtown Sacramento, even if LimeBike doesn’t have a permit to operate there. But if an e-scooter customer ends in Sacramento and leaves the scooter there, Sacramento has the authority to impound it.

City seeks input on investments, safety

Starting next week, the City of Sacramento will host four community workshops to present its draft plan for implementing the recently updated Bicycle Master Plan. The workshops will also include the City’s draft Vision Zero action plan for preventing severe and fatal traffic collisions.

Please make plans to attend one or more of the workshops:

Weds., Jan. 17, 5:30-7:00pm
South Natomas Library
2901 Truxel Rd. at Pebblestone Way

Weds., Jan. 24, 5:30-7:00pm
Pannell Community Center
2450 Meadowview Road at 24th Street

Mon., Jan. 29, 5:30-7:00pm
Oak Park Community Center
3425 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. at 8th Ave.

Weds., Jan. 31, 5:00-7:00pm
City Hall
915 I Street at 10th Street

The City completed the update of its Bicycle Master Plan in 2016. The draft implementation plan, completed as a separate project, sets priorities for meeting the Bicycle Master Plan goals of increasing the number of people on bikes, making bicycling safer, creating continuous, connected networks of bike routes, and ensuring that future improvements are made equitably throughout the city, including in historically underserved neighborhoods.

SABA successfully pushed the City to add these goals to the Bicycle Master Plan during the update.

Weighing factors such as cost and difficulty, as well as the historical pattern of under-investment in neighborhoods outside the Central City, the implementation plan assigns priorities to all of the projects currently proposed in the Bicycle Master Plan.

In 2016 the City of Sacramento added bike lanes to Freeport Blvd. in Land Park in response to a campaign launched by C.K. McClatchy Hr. High School students. Photo by Andrew Seng/Sac Bee

Meanwhile, the draft Vision Zero action plan contains the proposed steps the City will follow to achieve the goal of safety, based on data about the location and type of past traffic collisions. The City has set the ambitious goal of eliminating severe-injury and fatal collisions of all types by 2027.

The draft Vision Zero plan also directs the City to develop strategies for educating road users about risk factors, enforcing speed limits and laws against driving distracted and under the influence, and creating a culture among City agencies that makes traffic safety a top priority. SABA is part of a task force of community groups and agencies asked to contribute to the content of the City’s plan.

Together, the two plans will determine what kinds of improvements will be made on which streets, and sets spending priorities based on safety. The two plans could result in residents of historically underserved neighborhoods, especially in South Sacramento and North Sacramento, seeing increased City investments to improve roadway safety.

Feedback received from residents at the upcoming workshops will help the City finalize the draft plans, which will be presented to the City Council for adoption later this spring.

Effective advocacy is only possible with your support. To make a tax-deductible, year-end gift to SABA right now, please click here.

Hearing on stop-as-yield bill postponed

 

UPDATE: As of 5:42 PM Friday, 1/5/18, we heard from the office of AB 1103 author Assemblymember Jay Obernolte that the bill won’t be heard on Monday, due to continued opposition among the majority of Assembly Transportation Committe members. Rather than have the bill defeated, the author pulled the bill from the hearing and will be considering possible next steps.

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On Monday afternoon, Jan. 8, the bill to enact an Idaho-style stop-as-yield law for bicyclists will receive its first hearing before the Assembly Transportation Committee.

SABA supports Assembly Bill 1103 and has urged a yes vote by the committee. A yes vote sends the bill to an Assembly budget committee for a second hearing. Click here to read the full text of the bill.

As originally written, the bill would have allowed people on bikes statewide to treat stop signs like yield signs. Idaho enacted the first such law in 1983 (Idaho’s law also allows people on bikes to treat red lights like stop signs, not a provision in this bill). Last year Delaware enacted a stop-as-yield law similar to AB 1103.

In response to last-minute opposition before its first committee hearing last spring, the bill’s co-authors, Assemblymember Jay Obernolte of Big Bear Lake and Phil Ting of San Francisco, revised the bill to authorize individual California cities to implement stop-as-yield programs on a pilot basis for 5 years. The pilot program would include data collection and public education.

We strongly support this revision as the most appropriate way to evaluate the actual benefits and risks of this way of approaching stop signs.

The concept of authorizing the stop-as-yield is solid and appropriate, as it would legalize a common travel behavior. It also appropriately reinforces the importance of yielding as a safe behavior, and puts the responsibility on bicyclists to decide when to yield – bicyclists who ignored stop signs and failed to yield would face the same citations and fines as drivers who fail to yield.

This bill needs your help! Here are three ways you can express your support:

1) Contact the office of Assemblymember Jim Frazier, chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee, by email or by phone (916-319-2011). Keep your message very brief, especially if you call:

“Hi, my name is __________ . I live in ________ and I ride a bike. I’m calling to express my support for AB 1103 and to urge the committee to approve the bill.”

And if you live in Assemblymember Frazier’s district, please say so. Not sure if you do? Start here.

Why so brief? Frazier’s staff is keeping a tally of how many people support and oppose the bill and they’ll share this information with the rest of the committee at Monday’s hearing. The entire committee already has a detailed analysis of what the bill does and the arguments for it and against it. They’ve also seen letters from organizations like SABA that explain why the bill is beneficial and should be enacted. What they need to hear by Monday is that individual voters support the bill.

2) Yolo County Assemblymember Cecelia Aguiar-Curry is a member of the Assembly Transportation Committee. If you live in her district, consider contacting her office by email or phone (916-319-2004) to deliver a similar message. (Not sure if you live in her district? Start here.)

3) Consider attending Monday’s hearing starting at 2:30 PM in Room 4202 at the State Capitol in downtown Sacramento. The agenda is very full and the hearing room is small and fills quickly — arrive extra early to go through security and find a seat. You’ll have a chance to briefly state your name and support for the bill for the record. AB 1103’s author is organizing representatives of groups to deliver more detailed testimony at the hearing.

To learn more about how stop-as-yield works, check out this cool video from Oregon.

SABA’s year in review

SABA works in three main areas — advocacy, technical assistance and community engagement — to help create the conditions that enable more people to confidently choose a bike as safe, convenient everyday transportation. Here are the highlights from 2017:

Advocacy

Vision Zero Sacramento

What we did: As part of the Vision Zero Task Force, we’ve been working with public agency, nonprofit and community partners to develop an action plan for reaching the City of Sacramento’s goal of eliminating all severe injury and fatal traffic collisions by 2027.

Why it matters: A data-driven plan will direct funding toward improvements to safeguard people on bikes in the most dangerous locations, many of which are concentrated in traditionally underserved neighborhoods. For example, most of the fatal bike collisions in Sacramento County have occurred south of US-50 and west of Power Inn Road, on major streets like Stockton Blvd., 47th Ave., Fruitridge Road and Mack Road.

What’s next: The draft action plan will be released early next year for public review. We’ll be involved in helping solicit community and neighborhood input.

Transportation funding

What we did: Late last year Sacramento County’s Measure B transportation sales tax measure narrowly failed to win passage, in part because SABA and allied groups didn’t have a seat at the table to help shape a measure we could all support. Since then we’ve been working with our strategic allies to ensure that the next transportation sales tax measure reflects our ideas and values.

Why it matters: Our region cannot achieve its air quality goals without providing safe, convenient alternatives to driving, including travel by bike. And without additional funding, we won’t see the kind of roadway improvements that will enable more people to choose a bike for everyday travel. Environmental, neighborhood and community groups have a decisive role to play so long as we work together.

What’s next: Allied groups continue to meet to discuss our role in influencing the content of the next transportation sales tax measure.

Project review

What we did: We submitted detailed comments to public agencies reviewing environmental documents, construction permit applications and planning documents for major development and public works projects with potential benefits and impacts on people who travel by bike, including the Central City Specific Plan (formerly known as Downtown Specific Plan), the Capitol City Freeway Improvement Project, and the West Jackson Highway Master Plan. We also routinely meet with developers in the early stages of projects, with the goal of educating developers and helping improve projects that are still being designed.

What it matters: The application review and approval process is the opportunity for public input that pushes public agencies to exercise their authority to modify projects where needed. Meeting with developers presents the opportunity to share projects in their early stages, often in ways that developers find helpful.

What’s next: We’ll continue to participate in public commenting on projects and also meet with developers. Watch for additional advocacy activities from SABA, such as public awareness campaigns, to mobilize public support for significant needs related to some of these projects.

Bike share

What we did: We’re part of an advisory committee that developing policies and strategies for ensuring that the Sacramento region’s bike share system, launching next spring in parts of Sacramento, West Sacramento and Davis, is accessible to everyone. We also represented the interests of people on bikes in three cities interested in introducing Chinese-style dockless bike share systems.

Why it matters: Bike share programs enable people to replace car trips with bike trips, which helps reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality. Meeting these goals requires local policies about bike share operators to ensure that people can rely on bike share as a long-term transportation solution.

What’s next: We’ll continue to advocate for bike share as a legitimate transportation solution. We’re especially interested in strategies for making bike share succeed in less-dense suburban areas and with traditionally underserved populations.

Photo by Tony Bizjak/Sacramento Bee

Protected bike lanes

What we did: We led rides and encouraged people to try out the protected bike lane on P Street that was demonstrated for three days in during early October. We also met with City of Rancho Cordova transportation planners to provide input on the Routier Road-Rod Beaudry Drive protected bike lane project currently in the design phase.

Why it matters: Protected bike lanes are a crucial tool for making streets accessible to would-be cyclists who don’t want to share the street with vehicle traffic. The City of Sacramento’s preview helps build public support for the City’s Sacramento Downtown Bikeways Project, which will install 20+ blocks of bikeway improvements, including a protected bike lane on P Street, in the Grid next spring. This was also the first time the City has demonstrated this kind of facility on a short-term basis. We support more experiments like these. The scope and suburban setting of Rancho Cordova’s project makes it the region’s most ambitious.

What’s next: We’ll continue to educate the community about the benefits of protected bike lanes.

Off-pavement bicycling pilot program

What we did: We helped organize community support for Sacramento County’s pilot program to allow bikes on unpaved maintenance roads in the Woodlake and Cal Expo areas of the American River Parkway. The program opened this fall.

Why it matters: The pilot program help determine whether off-road bicycling can be accommodated in the lower American River Parkway, like it is around Lake Natoma near Folsom. Introducing more active uses in this part of the parkway helps the paved American River Bike trail feel safer and less isolated for more people.

What’s next: We’ll continue to monitor the success of the program over the next three years, when future expansion could be a possibility.

Technical assistance

Biking in the Power Inn area

What we did: We partnered with WALKSacramento to evaluate needs and opportunities to improve conditions for biking and walking in the Power Inn area for the local business association.

What it matters: As advocates, we look at the world from the perspective to people on bikes. That knowledge can be valuable to organizations like the Power Inn Alliance whose members want the benefits of more transportation options, including travel by bike.

What’s next: We continue to support Power Inn Alliance in advocating for improvements for travel by bike.

Safe routes to school in West Sacramento

What we did: Once again we partnered with WALKSacramento on a contract with the City of West Sacramento to encourage biking and walking to 7 elementary schools through evaluation, education and street improvements.

Why it matters: Helping make it easier for kids to bike and walk to and from school creates healthy habits, reduces traffic congestion around schools and improves air quality.

What’s next: During 2018 we’ll deliver bike education, organize ‘bike trains’ and help residents identify the best bike routes through their neighborhoods.

Community engagement

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

Bike repair program

What we did: SABA mechanics repaired more than 750 bikes at 25 Bike Doc bike repair clinics at schools, community events and apartment complexes, a program of the North Natomas Transportation Management Association.

Why it matters: There’s just one bike shop that serves the 100,000 residents of Natomas. Without easy access to repairs, people can’t ride their bikes, which leaves some people stranded and forces others to drive more than they want to.

What’s next: We continue to work with the North Natomas TMA. Meanwhile, we have grant funding to introduce bike repair clinics in South Sacramento.

Encouraging bicycling in Rancho Cordova

What we did: With funding from Rancho Cordova’s Measure H Community Enhancement Fund, we introduced Bike Valet services at community events in Rancho Cordova, and also led social bike rides and held several bike maintenance classes.

Why it matters: We’re helping build a community of Rancho Cordova residents who support bicycling and can organize to advocate for needed roadway improvements.

What’s next: We’ll continue to provide these services through 2018.

Photo by City of Sacramento

Open streets

What we did: We were part of a committee that organized Sunday Street on Broadway, when Sacramento temporarily closed Broadway and adjacent streets to cars so people could bike, walk, skate, play and have fun. We partnered with a group of young urban planning professionals to fabricate a temporary protected bike lane as one of the activities at the event.

Why it matters: Events like these offer a way to ‘reclaim’ our streets as places for people and not just for cars. When people can experience their neighborhoods this new way, even temporarily, they become more engaged in decisions about how their neighborhood streets operate and how they can be improved. For SABA, Sunday Street on Broadway presented an opportunity to meet and talk to people interested in helping advocate for installation of protected bike lanes.

What’s next: This was the first in a pilot project to organize similar events in each City Council district. Future events have not been announced, however, we’re encouraging the City to host more of these transformative events and we want to help make them successful. We’ve also heard from other cities in the region that want to host these kinds of events.

Bike Valet

What we did: During 2017 we parked more than 10,000 bikes at nearly 300 community events in Sacramento, West Sacramento, Rancho Cordova and Elk Grove.

Why it matters: When people have a fast, easy way to park their bike for free at a community event, they’re more likely to ride a bike than drive a car. That keeps driving-related pollution out of the air (and your lungs) and helps reduce traffic congestion. Our regular clients include the Sacramento Republic FC, Midtown Farmers Market, Friday Night Concert in the Park, SactoMoFo, The Barn and the Cordova Community Council.

What’s next: During 2018 we hope to resume providing Bike Valet services for selected Golden 1 Center events.

Effective advocacy is only possible with your support. Please make a tax-deductible, year-end gift to SABA right now by clicking here.

Bridge closes for 5 months without detour for bikes

Bridge repair project closes only Natomas-Downtown bike route

On Tuesday, January 2, Sacramento County will close the Jibboom Street Bridge leading into Discovery Park for 5 months of repairs ending in late May, the first major upgrade to the 86-year-old bridge in nearly 50 years.

In addition to creating a more secure route for bike traffic, the project temporarily severs the only legal, direct route for people traveling by bike or on foot between downtown Sacramento and Natomas, home to 20% of the city’s population.

The project shows just how fragile our transportation network really is: there are no nearby alternate routes for pedestrians and bicyclists. (The few drivers who even notice the closure can drive a few hundred yards to reach I-5).

The inadequate number of bridges over the American River affects everyone. Drivers have to travel out of their way to reach one, adding to traffic and air pollution, and the added distance discourages travel by bike, which keeps people in their cars. When our transportation network can be so easily broken, we simply can’t reach air quality goals that envision more people being able to travel by bike.

Sacramento County is not providing a detour for bike traffic but recommends alternate routes that add at least 4 to 14 miles to a one-way trip. The nearest alternate route is the Sacramento Northern Bikeway bridge (AKA the Blue Diamond Bridge or the Pipe Bridge) about 2 miles upstream from Discovery Park. Beyond that, the next nearest crossings are at the H Street and Guy West bridges near Sac State, about 7 miles upstream.

Bike traffic is allowed on Highway 160, which lacks bike lanes and has 60+ MPH traffic. It’s highly dangerous for people on bikes, especially at night, and during rainy or foggy weather, and not recommended.

When flooding closes the American River Parkway, Caltrans authorizes bike traffic on the I-5 bridge over Discovery Park between the Garden Highway and Richards Blvd. exits, however, that detour is extremely hazardous and also not recommended. And it won’t be opened for the Jibboom Street Bridge project (that is, until the Parkway floods).

Northbound I-5 over the Sacramento River

The impacts of the closure don’t simply affect recreational and athletic cyclists who ride in the Parkway. It complicates the commute for those who ride between Natomas and Downtown Sacramento. During a bike traffic count we conducted at the bridge for two hours on a weekday evening in May 2012, we counted 297 cyclists crossing the bridge, nearly as many who cross the Guy West Bridge during the same period. It’s a busy bridge!

And for low-income people who live north of the river and bike or walk to reach essential services on the south side, the closure creates a barrier that’s nearly impossible to overcome.

Proposed bicycle-pedestrian route on I-5

In 2013 the City of Sacramento completed the American River Crossing Alternatives Study [PDF], which recommends three locations for “all-weather” bicycle and pedestrian crossings: a new Regional Transit bridge to carry Light Rail to Natomas from the Richards Blvd. area, new bridges to replace the existing Highway 160 bridges, which are reaching the end of their useful lives, and a new cantilevered bicycle-pedestrian crossing on the west side of the I-5 bridge.

We’re asking the City of Sacramento to take the study off the shelf and expedite planning for one or more of the proposed crossings. Given the complexity and expense of building this kind of infrastructure, this planning has to get started immediately.

In the interim, we’re working with Caltrans to determine whether the I-5 bridge can ever be made safe enough for detoured bike traffic. Current conditions are simply too unsafe for people on bikes.

The City of Sacramento is already working on two new bridges over the Sacramento River between downtown and West Sacramento. The replacement for the I Street Bridge will move bikes off the I Street railroad bridge and a new Broadway Bridge will provide an additional crossing. The American River presents the same kind of obstacle to travel and deserves the same kind of attention.

This kind of advocacy is only possible with your support. Please make a tax-deductible, year-end gift to SABA right now by clicking here.

Gas tax hike to fund road repairs

Tomorrow the state tax on gasoline will go up by 12 cents, the first increase in 23 years.

Over the next 10 years, the tax increase, along with increases in other fuel-related taxes and fees, will generate $54 billion for transportation improvements statewide–mainly road repairs but also $100 million more a year exclusively for biking and walking projects.

Sacramento County will collect $289.6 million, including $112.6 million within the city of Sacramento, as the result of Senate Bill 1, the state law that contained the gas tax increase. The 6-county Sacramento Area Council of Governments Region (Sacramento, Sutte, Yolo and Yuba counties and parts of El Dorado and Placer counties) will receive $919 million due to SB 1.

Here’s how SB 1 allocates the additional funding statewide:

• $100 million per year exclusively for biking and walking projects.
• $3 billion per year–the majority of the funding–will go to repairing state- and locally-owned roads, which provides a key opportunity to build safer, complete streets that accommodate travel by bike, transit and walking.
• $750 million per year will support improving service and expanding public transit. More public transit helps reduce traffic congestion, which creates safer streets for biking and walking.
• $250 million per year is for a new program aimed at increasing transportation choices in highly traveled, congested corridors.
• $25 million per year for planning grants to support smart growth and development of better projects in the future.

In the Sacramento region, the increased revenues will be used for these projects to improve conditions for bicycling:

• bike lane and pedestrian route improvements on McGowan Parkway in Olivehurst ($1.25M)
• the Electric Greenway bike path in Citrus Heights ($5.8M)
• a segment of the El Dorado Trail near Missouri Flat Road in El Dorado County ($3.4M)
• complete streets improvements along Folsom Blvd. in unincorporated Sacramento County ($4.18M)
• Phase II of the Two Rivers Trail along the south side of the American River near downtown Sacramento ($3.33M)

A survey conducted this spring by Calbike shortly after the passage of SB 1 showed that most Californians favor investing in these kinds of improvements.

Even with the new revenues, the region’s unfunded need–the value of needed transportation improvements that don’t yet have funding–is still $2 billion over the next 10 years.

In Sacramento, gas tax revenues account for about 10% of the city’s transportation budget. Other funding sources, such as a countywide transportation sales tax, will be needed to pay for upgrading transit equipment and building costly biking and walking infrastructure such as overcrossings and bridges.

Click here to learn more about SB 1.