Raise your hand for bike infrastructure!

The Castro Valley community has spent the last 18 months working closely with the Alameda County Public Works Agency (PWA) on updating the local bike & pedestrian plan (full name “Alameda County Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan for Unincorporated Areas”). This plan is a wish list for infrastructure improvements to improve safety and accessibility for people to walk and bike in Castro Valley – and the rest of unincorporated Alameda County – and is a key guiding factor in decision-making for the County.

The old master plan was created in 2012, and gathered input at only one community meeting in Castro Valley. This plan reflects the then-lack of interest in making our community a thriving, walkable, bikable place to live. Six years later, we’ve awakened to wanting a more active, thriving, environmentally friendly place to live that is not 100% dependent on driving. We have the opportunity to make a plan that holds the vision for what we’d like to see, limited only by funding.

*Bike photo 1

Over the last 18 months, PWA has facilitated or presented at no less than 30 community meetings, 11 of which were held in Castro Valley, as well as offered an online tool, to gather input from the community on what it wants to see as far as improvements for walking and cycling infrastructure. We helped promote the online tools and open houses in Castro Valley. Dozens of people attended the meetings, and the online tool received input from hundreds of residents about where they want to safely bike and walk in Castro Valley.

This process was due to result in an updated plan by June 30th. This process was interrupted on March 19th when PWA presented the draft updated plan to the MAC. At that meeting, the MAC responded saying that infrastructure for cars was far more important than infrastructure for bikes, that they were sure this is what Castro Valley wants, and asked that bike infrastructure improvements be stricken from the updated plan.

What the MAC hasn’t heard enough yet:

  • Our community values safe walking AND cycling
  • Our kids want to ride to school – except it isn’t safe
  • We want to ride to the village and the new marketplace – except it isn’t safe
  • Despite the fancy new shared parking, the answer to getting more people to downtown isn’t in more cars – it’s on foot and on bikes
  • We want to ride a bike to BART for our commutes (since we can’t fit any more cars into the parking lot) – but it isn’t safe
  • More people biking downtown is good for business – it’s been proven!

How can we help inform the MAC? Next Monday, May 21st, at 6pm at the CV Library, PWA will return to the MAC to try to better explain the purpose of the updated plan – that it’s a wish list, and no infrastructure changes will be made without community meetings for each project, and that the source of the update – the wish list – is our community. And we need YOU to come to the meeting and let the MAC know that you support bike infrastructure improvements. Please come to the meeting, bring your kids, your neighbors, your friends. Help us educate the MAC on what the community wants – safer cycling infrastructure that is good for everyone in our community. Thank you.

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Pedestrian Safety Along Stanton Avenue

We have several updates regarding pedestrian safety along Stanton Avenue and other key corridors in Castro Valley — both short-term solutions and long-term plans for pedestrians.

At the December 18, 2017 MAC meeting, the Alameda County Public Works Agency (PWA) gave a presentation on upcoming work on Stanton Avenue. The good news:

  • In early Winter 2018, PWA will paint white lines on Stanton Avenue in places where there is no proper curb delineating the road from the pedestrian right-of-way.
  • The pilot program was announced on the front page of the Castro Valley Forum on January 31, 2018. PWA also intends to provide information to households on or near Stanton Avenue.
  • Alameda County Code Enforcement is currently addressing encroachments (overgrowth removal, pole and sign repositioning, etc.)
  • Design work for sidewalks along Stanton Avenue has already begun (using money from the successful ATP grant), and construction work is slated to begin in Summer 2019. This is an accelerated schedule; Alameda County has received an influx of money due to SB 1.
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Diagram of parking/walking delineation lines from PWA presentation at 12/11/2017 Castro Valley MAC Meeting

The bad news:

  • The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department has been consulted on this by PWA, but has not unambiguously committed to enforcing parking violations along these areas. These incidents are left up to the officer’s discretion; however, the white lines will decrease the ambiguity about where the road ends and where the pedestrian right-of-way begins.
  • As of December 2017, there was no timeline for when this pilot will be evaluated for success before rolling out onto other critical streets.
  • As of December 2017, there was no timeline presented for sidewalk construction on other roads in Castro Valley which have received ATP funding for design (such as Anita Avenue and Somerset Avenue).

A final takeaway: I am cautiously optimistic that the Safe Routes to School program and the Bike/Pedestrian Master Plan Update are working in concert with each other. The Safe Routes to School program has identified safety concerns near the schools that can be quickly fixed (e.g. crosswalks), while the Bike/Pedestrian Master Plan Update is focusing on larger scale infrastructure and network issues. We will keep you posted as any Safe Routes to Schools updates come to fruition.

What’s next? The Alameda County Public Works Agency Annual report was slated for the January 2018 MAC meeting, but was pushed back to March 2018 due to the full agenda. Stay tuned to our BikeWalkCV Facebook page for updates!

Want to Walk on Stanton Avenue?

Stanton Avenue is one of the many streets in Castro Valley plagued by lack of sidewalks. In spots lacking true sidewalks, parked cars and overgrown landscaping often block the pedestrian right-of-way. On Monday, December 18th, at 6pm at the MAC meeting at the CV Library, the public will have a rare opportunity to share concerns and hold public agencies accountable.

Stanton 2

Community Complaints

In Fall 2016, parents from Stanton Elementary (myself included) approached the Castro Valley MAC about the safety concern that this presented near the school. The MAC formed a subcommittee to collaborate with the multiple Alameda County agencies responsible for maintaining the pedestrian right of way — Code Enforcement (in the Community Development Agency) handles encroachment from overgrowth, the Sheriff’s Department handles parking enforcement, and Public Works is responsible for the engineering of roads and sidewalks.

MAC and Public Agencies

The MAC launched a pilot project in August 2017 to tackle the walkability of Stanton Avenue, and Code Enforcement’s report back to the MAC at the 11/20/2017 meeting was underwhelming.

  1. At the start of the pilot, the MAC crafted a letter to homeowners in the Stanton School area notifying them that they needed to keep the walkway clear.
  2. Several MAC members and Code Enforcement did a “field trip” to Stanton and carefully reviewed about 15 properties along a block of Stanton Avenue.
  3. Code Enforcement made a determination on the various issues, from overgrown vegetation to sign posts to parked cars.
    1. For vegetation issues, Code Enforcement notified property owners giving them a deadline to correct the issues.
    2. For sign posts, Code Enforcement asked Public Works to move the signs.
    3. For parked cars, Code Enforcement notified the Sheriff, who responded with the typical reply that they would not ticket unless they could be provided with a clear property line
  4. Code Enforcement stressed several times that they wanted to partner with other agencies (Public Works, Sheriff, MAC, etc.) to rectify this long-standing problem.
  5. The MAC announced that Public Works would be attending the next MAC General Purpose meeting on Monday, December 18, 2017 and that one of the short-term solutions the MAC is pushing for is white lines to separate the walkway from parking. White lines give the Sheriff a means to enforce parking rules.

What Can We Do?

The MAC meeting on Monday, December 18, 2017 (6 p.m. at the Castro Valley Library) is an all-too-rare opportunity for Public Works to answer to us. Where is the pedestrian infrastructure? Why should kids have to walk in the street to get to school? How can those with wheelchairs or strollers get anywhere?

Pedestrians, parents, and other advocates have complained to the MAC (and to Supervisor Miley) for years about the lack of sidewalks in Castro Valley. (Parents from Proctor Elementary complained to the MAC about similar issues in 2015.) This is the biggest push we’ve seen from the MAC to address these issues — and showing up to the 12/18/2017 MAC meeting to make sure Public Works hears us is the next step. On Stanton and a few other streets in CV, we may see sidewalks by 2023 (decades more before we see them on so many other streets) – but we can’t keep waiting! Short term solutions like white lines to protect our walking space can take weeks, not decades. We need your faces and your voices to tell Public Works that we need real solutions to preserving a safe pedestrian right-of-way today!

Eden Area BPAC?

On October 25th, Alameda County Supervisors Nate Miley and Wilma Chan entertained the idea of asking the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to form an official commission that would advise the Alameda County Board of Supervisors on matters of bicycle and pedestrian safety in the unincorporated Eden Area (Castro Valley, Cherryland, Ashland, San Lorenzo, Fairview).

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This would be an “upgrade” of the current Castro Valley Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee in several ways:

  1. The official commission would report to the Board of Supervisors, not the Director of Public Works
  2. The commission would be given the opportunity to review and provide feedback on all Public Works’ designs for infrastructure changes that affect bike/ped safety and comfort, rather than a cursory review that does not affect design outcomes, as is currently, occasionally provided
  3. Commission members would be appointed by the Supervisors rather than chosen by Public Works

For the reasons above, the official commission would have more “teeth” to positively impact safety improvements in Castro Valley and all of the unincorporated Eden Area.

Stay tuned for the date of the next Alameda County Unincorporated Services Committee meeting in early 2018 where this topic will be discussed again, and hopefully approved for presentation to the entire Board of Supervisors.

 

Bike/Ped Plan Needs Your Valuable Input

We are looking for a few minutes of your time to provide your valuable input — your wish list for pedestrian & cyclist safety — using a cool design tool. Public works wants to know what you are concerned about and what you’d like to see in Castro Valley, and/or anywhere in unincorporated Alameda County, for walking and biking safety. Please click on this link now to give your input.

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Every tiny entry you make will be considered in updating the Alameda County Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan for Unincorporated Areas by mid-2018. If your suggestions/concerns are in the plan, we’ll have a better chance of making the needed changes happen.

Thanks for your time in helping us make Castro Valley and our neighboring unincorporated Alameda County areas safer for all of us.

New Paved Pathway Below Canyon Middle School

A big thank you to Alameda County Public Works Agency (PWA) for installing a new paved pathway along Heyer Avenue at the base of Canyon Middle School, just in time for the school year to begin! Now students have a safe path from where the sidewalk ends on Heyer Avenue to the Cull Canyon intersection.

We appreciate the improvements and hope to keep them coming!

Let your voice be heard about what you want to see improved, by coming to the Bike/Ped plan Open House on Thursday, 8/24 at the CV Library, or by emailing Paul Keener, Sr. Planner at PWA at paulk@acpwa.org.

Video Evidence for Cycling Safety

Another way people riding bikes can help protect themselves and other ridersfrom inattentive and reckless drivers, as well as gather important data to help win grants for infrastructure, is to record video evidence of egregious near-miss incidents they encounter.

The Cyclist Video Evidence folks have created a place to do just that, as well as to track repeat offenders and map trouble spots in every community. This helps law enforcement target problem areas. In addition, we’ll be able to use this data for our next round of sidewalk grants to supplement years-old, collision-only data.

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If you are looking for an easy-to-use, inexpensive, rear-facing camera, the Fly 6 is a great choice. And right now, Eden Bicycles of Castro Valley in The Village is discounting them to support the community effort.

Help keep yourself safe, help keep your community safe, help local law enforcement, and help Alameda County traffic planners. That’s a win X 4! I can tell you from personal experience that it feels safer just knowing that now I have eyes behind me – and a recording of everything I see. Ride safe out there!

New Bike/Pedestrian Plans Need New Input

Advocating for more sidewalks and bike lanes in Castro Valley has often felt like a long slog. One of the walls we keep hitting is the current Alameda County Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan for Unincorporated Areas, which was last updated in 2012. However, next week, you have the opportunity to help us all see another spot of light at the end of the tunnel!

The current bike plan for Castro Valley mostly calls for sharrows, even on busy roads and major corridors.

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Map of Castro Valley from the 2012 bike/pedestrian master plan; note that the red dotted lines merely indicate sharrows.

Since 2012 there’s been an explosion in creative designs around the country for bike lanes and pedestrian pathways, as well as a steady increase in demand in Castro Valley for safer infrastructure for walking and biking. And now we have a chance to set a vision for the future of our community. Alameda County Public Works is updating the bike/pedestrian master plan, and we need input from the community to create a vision for a safer, walkable, bikeable Castro Valley.

There will be several community open houses in the next few months; the first two are in Dublin on Wednesday, August 23, and at the Castro Valley Library in Castro Valley on Thursday, August 24, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Bring yourself! Bring your kids! Bring your neighbors! And most importantly, bring your opinions. Looking forward to seeing many of you there!

8_14_2017_Community Meeting Flyer_4-1

Safe Routes to School Wants Your Input!

As part of the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programming in unincorporated Alameda County, the County has contracted a consultant to do an audit of the current bicycle and pedestrian issues around each school. There is an interactive map of Alameda County on which you can register your feedback about safety needs of each school — ranging from sidewalks and crossing guards to bicycle corridors to general safety concerns. The consultant needs this feedback by July 15, 2017, in order to begin analysis and planning for the upcoming school year.

If you’ve never used a GIS interactive map before, we can walk you through it.

First, go to the interactive map.

Second, after closing the welcome message, select the school you want to center on the map. Once you start typing in the box in the lower left-hand corner it will start suggesting schools:

SR2S_choose_school

Once you select a school it will zoom into that part of the map. Now it’s time to start leaving feedback! There are two ways to leave feedback:

  1. At a point, which is a good way to identify a dangerous intersection, a spot needing a crossing guard or crosswalk, or some other general concern.
  2. Along a line, which is the best way to identify a length of road that needs a sidewalk or bike lane.

We’ll start with dropping a pin. Click once on the type of pin you want to use to indicate a problem:
SR2S_choose_type_of_pin
Then, click on the point on the map where you want to drop the pin and make a comment. Once you click on the point, a box will pop up with the option for you to leave a comment. Leave a comment in the box, select the relevant school, and click “close” to submit the comment.
SR2S_make_comment

Next, let’s mark a road where we might need some sidewalks. Click once on the type of line you want to draw:
SR2S_start_drawing_line
Then click once at your starting point along the map. If the route has a bend or a turn in it, click once at each corner or turn, double-clicking only at the end of the route.
SRTS_mult_pts_line

And that’s it! Please mark every safety concern that you encounter near a Castro Valley school (and, in fact near any other school in unincorporated Alameda County) — the more feedback, the better. Let us know in the comments if you have any trouble with the site!

Join the Fun on Bike to Work & School Day, Thursday, May 11th

Join family, friends, neighbors and co-workers in riding your bike, scooter or skateboard to work or school this Thursday, May 11th! It’s the biggest rolling day of the year across the nation, when hundreds of thousands jump on their bikes or other people-powered vehicles for their daily commute.

CVHS Bike to School & Work Day 18

In Castro Valley, you’ll have three options to pick up your free canvas commuter bag filled with cycling related items and treats at “Energizer Stations” between 7am and 9am in the following three locations:

  • In front of Castro Valley High School, under the marquee on Redwood Rd. at Heyer Ave.
  • In front of Creekside Middle School on Center St. at Omega Ave.
  • In front of the Castro Valley BART station

At CVHS, we’ll also have lots of goodies and a bike mechanic offering free repairs provided by BikeWalkCV’s proud sponsor, Eden Bicycles of Castro Valley.

There are more Energizer Stations across the Bay Area, including in these East Bay Locations, if you’d like to find one closer to your destinations that day. There are also several Bike Happy Hours, including one in San Leandro by our friends at Bike Walk San Leandro.

Enjoy your day and ride safe out there!