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Posts Tagged ‘san luis obispo bike path’

ShowImageBy Eric Meyer (with Dan Rivoire) spring 2015

Eight years of careful planning — and a bit of luck — paid off last year in a big way for bicyclists in San Luis Obispo. We amended our transportation plan (known as the “Circulation Element”) in three very innovative ways.

First, we revised our transportation mode objectives, dramatically increasing the bike and pedestrian trip goals.

The new mode split goal:

50 percent motor vehicles
12 percent transit
20 percent bicycles
18 percent walking, car pools, and other forms

This is one of the most pedestrian- and bike-centric modal split objectives in the United States.

Second, we changed our roadway analysis from Level of Service (LOS)to Multi-Modal Level of Service (MMLOS).

San Luis Obispo rejected Level of Service — an outdated standard that measures transportation projects only on the basis of automobile delay — in favor of Multi-Modal Level of Service. MMLOS puts all modes on a level playing field so that the needs of one mode may only trump the needs of another in a manner designated by the modal hierarchy given to that location.

With this MMLOS objective in mind, we re-prioritized the modal hierarchy of all of our streets. Some high-traffic arterials are automobile-focused, then transit, then bikes, then peds. Other streets have different hierarchies. Residential neighborhood streets are prioritized for pedestrians first. Major arterials are prioritized for transit first. It is a complex “complete streets” effort that will balance the needs of all modes in the city over time as streets are rebuilt or modified.

Third (and most important!): We created a policy that allocates general fund transportation spending by mode to match the mode share percentage goals desired.

If you remember only one thing from this article, this is it.

This policy mandates that our city must allocate general fund transportation spending at the same ratio as the mode share goal desired. Meaning 20 percent of funding needs to go to bicycling.

This is a huge shift from business as usual in America.

These changes didn’t happen all at once. They happened over the course of about eight years under the guidance of many minds at Bike SLO County and with the help of many hundreds of citizens. If we citizens had tried to make this all happen at once during a Circulation Element update, we would have failed.

It happened because we focused on the smallest relevant plans first. Our first opportunity for meaningful policy change came when the City Planning Commission was approving the Climate Action Plan, with the aim of reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. One of the suggested strategies in this plan was to decrease single occupancy vehicle trips. One way to do that is to encourage an increase in the mode share of alternative modes such as biking and walking. I was on the city planning commission at that time and pitched the idea of pushing the bike mode share goal to 20 percent, thinking that we might get 15 percent as a compromise. But in a surprise vote, the balance of the planning commission agreed to the new 20 percent bike mode share goal.  The City Council later approved the new Climate Action Plan.

But other older city plans, like the Bicycle Master Plan and the city Circulation Element, still had the old 10 percent bike goal. (Note that the current bike mode share is only about 6 percent.) So a year or two later, when the Bicycle Master Plan came up for review, it was modified to match the new 20% from the Climate Action Plan. Since city staff were able to explain that they were merely updating the bike plan to match the more recent climate action plan, it went through without a hitch.

A few years later, the city’s transportation and land use plan, known as LUCE (for “Land Use Element and Circulation Element”) came up for updating. Because I was a current City Planning Commissioner I was appointed as chairman of the citizen task force dedicated to overseeing the update. The task force debated where to go with the modal split percentage goals in this new Circulation Element.  But the simple fact that the Planning Commission and City Council had already approved the 20% figure in the Climate Action and Bicycle Master plans led to the task force agreeing 20% bike mode share should also be the goal in this new Circulation Element.

In addition to this new modal split objective, the new MMLOS policy, and the requirement to allocate transportation funding in the same ratio as the desired modal split were all incorporated into the new Circulation Element Update.

This 20 percent mode bike mode share goal would never have been approved in the LUCE had it not already been part of the two smaller plans.

This is a key point and may be a pathway that others can follow to create similar changes in other jurisdictions.

Meanwhile, Dan Rivoire (Executive Director of Bike SLO County) was elected to City Council shortly after the City Planning Commission approved the LUCE update, so when it came before the council, his was the deciding vote that approved it and he is now in a position to help shepherd the new prioritization of funding.

Together these new policies create one of the strongest funding mechanisms for bicycle infrastructure in the nation. We hope that other cities might be able to learn from our efforts.

None of this would have been possible without the efforts of hundreds of members of the public and the tireless efforts of many Bike SLO County Advocates who showed up at City Planning and City Council meetings to voice their concerns and desires. It is the public that creates the demand and the advocate’s job is simply to help the public and the city find the way forward.

And our efforts have been recognized!  Last month the City of San Luis Obispo was awarded gold status by the League of American Bicyclists.  This ranking puts SLO amongst the top 30 cities nationwide for bicycling. Thank you SLO bike advocates!

 

 

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montereybikebridge

I have a crazy bike bridge idea…. one that I pitched to some Cal Poly architecture students (and also some planning students) a few years ago.    I have recently suggested it to the City of SLO.

THE BACKSTORY:  SLO has been planning and building a long class one (off street) bike path that is known as the Railroad Safety Trail for many years now.   It extends from Orcutt road in the south up to the Railroad station… and from Cal Poly in the north down to the 101 freeway along California Blvd.    The section that is missing is between the 101 freeway and the Railroad station.  The City has been attempting to negotiate with the Railroad for an easement… but the Railroad has basically just said NO.

So the City of SLO public works dept has been working on various solutions that would make a safe connecting route for bikes across this middle section of town to each of the already completed sections of the RR safety trail.  So far it looks pretty good… except that a portion of the route will be on Pepper st… which includes a relatively steep section between Monterey street and Mill St.  Too steep for kids and anyone on a single speed or cruiser type bike.

The idea… is to span the small valley of Monterey st with a 1000 foot long bike bridge… which spans from Higuera st.  all the way up to Mill St…. most of which is actually just the roof of two skinny buildings built on half of what is now the east side of Pepper street.  Only a short section of this 1000 foot length would be an actual bike bridge…directly over Monterey st… the rest would be built on the roof of commercial space combined with maybe a small apartment or two… whatever.  It is a tad difficult to grasp at first… you have to imagine two buildings… one on either side of Monterey st… built on half the width of Pepper street… the roofs of which are at the level of the green line in the photo above… and then the bike path on top of those roofs.  The remainder of Pepper becomes an alley of sorts.  It is really low traffic usage now.  The new bridge would turn the steep hill… into a manageable 4% grade.  The new buildings would not block any views that the current railroad track already blocks.

The City would have to either partner up, sell or lease the land to a developer that would then build the buildings and the bike path. There would be an easement for the bike path across the buildings… and some sort of long term maintenance agreement.  It would be a tricky negotiation… but in the end it would eliminate the steep section of this portion of the RR safety trail across town.

From the south end of this bridge…  the path would continue as per the existing bicycle master plan which I don’t have space enough to go into here as it is fairly complicated… but it is already a plan and it will work.  Same goes for the northerly connection… but that section is quicker to describe.  Basically to the north.. Pepper continues as a bicycle blvd for two blocks… where there would be a new bike bridge over the RR tracks and the path then continues over to the south corner of the Highway Patrol building property on California… and then northerly between that Highway Patrol building and the RR tracks but on Highway Patrol Property.  From the Highway patrol property… the path becomes a “protected two way bike lane actually built on the west side of California blvd.   This section is protected by a barrier from the automobile traffic… and it continues across the existing wide automobile bridge over the 101 and connects with the existing RR safety trail just beyond the 101.

Interesting, yes… is it feasible… I dunno… but it would sure be fun to explore.

 

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UPDATE>>> 6-12-2013  The City Council has quadrupled their budget for bike infrastructure… just last night.  So this will raise the numbers in this post  from 50k to 200k.  Awesome stuff.       THANK YOU CITY COUNCIL!  Send them a thank you by clicking at the link at the bottom of this post!

images-1

After a long and vocal public discussion San Luis Obispo’s 7 major city goals were finalized a few months ago.  Amongst these 7 major goals was one titled “Bikes and Pedestrian Paths” .

Having decided these major city goals the City is next supposed to build it’s two year budget in order to implement those goals.   SLO is discussing this two year budget this week… so here is something to be aware of:

SLO City Council’s General Fund Budget for:  SEE UPDATE AT TOP OF THIS POST

building new bicycle infrastructure for the public: $50,000 (25k per year)  see update at top of this post

purchasing new automobiles for staff:                     $4,000,000

In a nutshell…. Your City Council has decided to spend just 1 penny on new public bike infrastructure… for every dollar they spend on buying new cars for city staff.

Nowhere in the public meetings was “new cars for everyone” brought up.  Yet somehow new cars as a budget expense is almost 100 times larger than any funds directed toward bicycle infrastructure.  (this same budget allocates the same money for lawnmowers as it does new bicycle improvements… it also allocates the same amount just to hire a company to count traffic… SLO spends more of it’s general fund dollars on firehoses than it does on bicycle infrastructure… SLO spends more on drain repairs at City Hall than it does on bike paths)

When you look at it… the budget does include a few large ticket bicycle expenditures that make it look like the city is spending lots on bikes… but in reality, when you dig into the details… 100% of the funds for these larger improvements come from entities other than our city.  For instance:

Railroad Safety bicycle trail -Taft to Pepper      

0 dollars from our General Fund,

$1,759,000 TIF  funds (state transportation improvement funds) and “future” grants as yet undetermined

Bob Jones Trail Connection at LOVR

0 dollars from General Fund

600,000 from a State Highway Grant

Bob Jones Trail Octagon Barn Connection

0 dollars from General fund

165k from federal and state grants SLO is just now applying for

The only actual general fund dollars for bike infrastructure is a “misc bicycle improvements fund”  of 25k per year (see update at top of post)… which mostly goes to painting “sharrows” onto streets.  SLO will never realize it’s bike plan if our council continues to push bikes to the bottom of the list.

Here’s a link to the city council’s email addresses

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The latest draft of the Bike plan update is available … REMEMBER… this is still just a draft… not approved yet by the city council… it will need your support in the future:

http://www.slocity.org/publicworks/documents/bikeplan/2012/btpdraftproject.pdf

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Every so often the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLOCOG)looks at the unmet transit needs across the county.  There is a comment section online where you can list what transit needs you feel are important.  This includes Bicycle improvements you would like to see in the COUNTY.  Regional trails are obviously big on my mind so I posted my comments on the the SLOCOG site.

Anyone’s comments are welcome… So I encourage you all to post your thoughts on unmet cycling needs (or any transit related needs) at:      http://www.slocog.org/Join/Unmet_Needs.php

Please mention the ANZA trail… and any other improvements you are interested in… such as a trail from SLO to Morro Bay, SLO to Los Osos etc.Remember… this is for the COUNTY… and unincorporated cities…  not so much for inside the incorporated city limits.

SLOCOG will be meeting in early 2013… so get your comments in now.

 

BTW…Thank You! to my friend Dallam Oliver-Lee for these links!

More info at:  http://library.slocog.org/PDFs/Agency_Mtgs_Agendas/TTAC_CTAC/2012/September%202012%20TTAC%20CTAC%20Agendas/D-3%202013-2014%20Unmet%20Transit%20Needs%20Schedule,%20%20Methodology,%20Definitions,%20and%20Criteria.pdf

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UPDATE… My wife and I ended up buying one of these parcels on our own… and placing an easement for the Anza trail over it… which we gave to the SLO county Land Conservancy.   We then resold the parcel with the easement over it at our cost to a neighboring landowner late in 2012.  So the following post is sort of a non issue.  Feel free to ignore it as no money from the county needed to be spent… we got the trail right of way effectively for free.

Today the San Luis Obispo County supervisors voted 4-1 (Supervisor Mechum opposed) to allocate funds for appraisals, title searches, phase 1 environmental assessments, and other data related to the possibility of purchasing the bike path parcels in Edna along the Juan Batista de Anza Trail route.  This is great news.  HOWEVER… they also stated that they would only pay a minority share of the cost of these parcels rather than the full amount as recommended by the Parks Commission.  So this means that parties interested in seeing this bike path come to fruition… like me… will need to fundraise to the tune of approx 225k. (a bit more than half of the property cost.)  They have the right to do this… times are tough at the county… so I understand… but I don’t have to be happy about it.

So we have our work to do… and the various advocacy groups are proceeding now with the options available for obtaining the funds we didn’t know we were going to have to raise until today.  We have approx 4 months to do it so it will be a real push.

I guess I should try and remember… this is California… soon the state will be telling drivers that if they want roads without potholes… then get some asphalt and a shovel and go fix them yourself.

We somehow seem to have plenty of state funds around for more prisons though…  end of rant.

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Note… this meeting has been cancelled and moved to August 21July 24th is the date that the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors will be discussing the bike path property purchase along the “de Anza Trail” corridor between San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach.  I don’t know the exact agenda yet… so cannot give a time.   If you cannot attend please at least fill out a comment card in support of purchasing properties that will lead to the trail at: http://www.slocounty.ca.gov/Page8417.aspx

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