Besides these lofty, eco-friendly goals, the city needs to develop a comprehensive Bicycle Plan to become eligible to receive state funds alloted by such agencies as the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, and the Bay Area Air Quality Management Distirct.
Okay, so Walnut Creek must become more bicycle friendly. The “how” is what the City Council will begin discussing at its meeting Tuesday night.
Background: Over the past 10 years, the city has spent about $2 million to ease bicycle transportation around town. These new facilities include building a “Class 1” bicycle- and pedestrian-only bridge along the Iron Horse Trail crossing Ygnacio Valley Road and installing 50 new bike racks in the downtown area.
But the city would like to do more to encourage more people to bike to work or to school or to use bikes to shop, go out to eat, take in a movie or show at the Lesher Center, and get themselves to our parks and open space areas.
The Draft Bicycle plan says that many roads are not currently bicycle friendly; connections to downtown, transit, and work centers are not clearly established; bike parking facilities are inadequate; and improvements should be made in bike safety programs. Also, the unincorporated pockets surrounded by the city (like my neighborhood) create gaps in bike routes.
The city has identified a long list of destinations for cyclists that includes 31 schools, 27 parks and open spaces, two BART stations, and eight commercial centers. The city would also like to improve the bike networks between us and neighboring cities.
One consideration: The 2000 Census shows that only 0.6 percent of Walnut Creek residents bike to work on a regular basis. That number is slightly higher than the national average and, of course, doesn’t include kids who ride their bikes to school or people who ride recreationally.
A disclosure: I don’t ride a bicycle and don’t foresee myself taking up cycling, but I have co-workers who bike to work and relatives who are serious recreational cyclists. For these people, I know cycling saves them money for commuting, and gives them a chance to exercise and enjoy the outdoors.
One major concern is bicycle safety for cyclists. However, it appears that the people most in need of bicycle safety education are the cyclists themselves. Of the 109 bicycle crashes in Walnut Creek from 2004 to 2008, the majority were caused by the cyclists, primarily by riding on the wrong side of the road. Remember, as the draft plan says, every person riding a bicycle upon a street or highway is subject to the all the duties applicable to a driver of a vehicle.
Hmm. I’ve seen a fair share of cyclists, especially those weekend groups riding in packs fail to stop at stop signs in my neighborhood …
Well, here are some of the specific ideas for making Walnut Creek more bicycle friendly, and you can read more in the draft plan:
--Require major development and redevelopment projects be reviewed by the Bicycle Advisory Committee to ensure that bicycle facilities can accommodate various users, including the provision of temporary facilities.
--Require appropriate bicycle-related improvements as a condition of design
review or subdivision approval.
--Require routine accommodations for all modes of travel when implementing city street-widening projects
-- Consider sidewalk widths greater than 10 feet whenever bicyclists are allowed or encouraged to use sidewalks on a designated bicycle facility.
--Where feasible, integrate new bikeways when designing new or modifying existing roadways.
--Support the development of a bikeway network that provides connections to bikeways in neighboring communities.