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!

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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!

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!

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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!

Crosswalk Improvements Coming to Castro Valley

At the September 2016 Castro Valley Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) meeting, in addition to learning about specific process improvements coming to the Castro Valley BPAC, we got a list of upcoming crosswalk improvements.

There are two different types of improvements coming. Some streets will get a bulb-out and a high visibility crosswalk: bulbouts shorten the crossing distance for pedestrians, while also providing them with a better and safer vantage point from which to see the oncoming traffic.

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The list of intersections getting bulb-outs and a high-visibility crosswalk are:

  • Redwood Road and Alma Avenue
  • Redwood Road and Buti Park Drive (also with flashing beacons)
  • Kent Street and Santa Ana Road (bulb-out only)
  • Lake Chabot Road and Carlton and Arcadian (also with flashing beacons)
  • Miramar and Crest Avenue

Several other intersections are getting flashing beacons and a high visibility crosswalk:

  • A Street and Ruby Street
  • Center Street (mid-block)
  • Center Street and Gem Avenue
  • Grove Way and Queen Street
  • Heyer Avenue and Alana Road
  • Lake Chabot Road and Lake Chabot Marina Entrance
  • Miramar Avenue and Saratoga Street

There are still more intersections in sore need of a better crosswalk — which ones would you like to see upgraded? Let us (BikeWalkCV@gmail.com) and Alameda County Public Works (paulk@acpwa.org) know what you need!

New Steps for Sidewalk Advocacy

We have spent the last two years advocating for sidewalks in Castro Valley, and while we’ve made some progress — most notably in the form of successful ATP grants — we haven’t seen any substantial new construction yet. Nor have we identified any sources of funding for sidewalks other than the Active Transportation Program.

Public Works received funding for design work on Stanton Avenue through the ATP process in 2015. However, at this point there has been no progress reported on the design, and no source of funding for the construction has been identified (other than another future round of ATP applications). Stanton Avenue is a key north-south corridor on the western edge of Castro Valley, and is also the backbone of Stanton Elementary’s catchment area.

Parents at Stanton Elementary are tired of walking through the mud and in the streets just to get to and from school every day. Paying for the second, much-needed crossing guard is also a strain on the budget of the Title I school’s parent association. (Alameda County pays for only one crossing guard.) At the Castro Valley MAC meeting on Monday, November 21, 2016, these parents — and the students, teachers, staff, and neighbors of Stanton Elementary — will be asking the MAC for help prioritizing these sidewalk projects. They will be asking for Public Works to pursue Measure BB funding, and to look for discretionary funds that could be spent on sidewalks.

While this agenda item is specifically about Stanton Avenue, it is also a chance for the community to show up and ask for more investment into sidewalks in Castro Valley. The Measure BB money is out there, and is being spent elsewhere in Alameda County. Public Works has discretionary funds, and there is no reason that they cannot be spent on sidewalks in Castro Valley. But we will only make progress if we show up in person at the MAC meeting and demand this investment.

Please join us at 6 p.m. on Monday, November 21, at the Castro Valley Library!

Better Biking to Lake Chabot!

We are delighted to see that the bike lanes on Lake Chabot Road, between Fairmont Drive and Seven Hills Road, have been painted! This has long been in the works — the Alameda County Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan created in 2012 calls for bike lanes on Lake Chabot Road [p. 56], and the Castro Valley Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) ranked bike lanes on Lake Chabot Road as a high priority among the bike lanes proposed in the master plan.

There is still plenty of work to be done — Lake Chabot Road still needs bike lanes that extend south to Castro Valley Boulevard, the Boulevard itself still needs a bike lane that spans Castro Valley, and there are many other key bicycling corridors in our community that need safer engineering — particularly around our schools. But implementing the bike and pedestrian master plan as other road improvements (e.g. repaving) are made is key progress.

These bike lanes will make it significantly safer for people of all ages to bike to Lake Chabot — while there is not a physical barrier between bikes and vehicular traffic, there is a buffer on either side of the bike lane for most of the distance. In addition, the bike lanes will be painted green, to increase their visibility. These changes are expected to be completed by August. Public Works is also looking at improving safety for pedestrians on the same stretch by installing flashing beacons at the crosswalks, both at the entrance to Lake Chabot Park and the intersection with Arcadian Drive (pending additional separate funding). Stay tuned for more updates and ways that you can help us help our community become a safer place for everyone.

Updates from the Castro Valley BPAC – Spring 2016

The Castro Valley Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) met on Wednesday, February 24, 2016, and covered the following topics:

  • Public comment: parking on “unimproved” sidewalks: The BPAC and other members of the public discussed the problem of cars parking in the pedestrian right-of-way, forcing pedestrians into the street. This is particularly a problem near Proctor Elementary, along Somerset Avenue, and along Anita Avenue. While some of those streets are getting sidewalks in the long term, the BPAC and Public Works discussed some temporary options, including asphalt curbs.
  • Bike to Work Day: The BPAC and Public Works looked at suggested items to give away at the “energizer stations” (such as at the Castro Valley BART station) on Bike to Work Day (May 12, 2016). Mini repair kits and small towelettes were among the suggested items.
  • Active Transportation Program Cycle 3 Funding Grants: Public Works is preparing to apply for grants in this cycle of the Active Transportation Program (ATP) for pedestrian and bike projects in Castro Valley. (In Cycle 2, Castro Valley was awarded grants for sidewalk projects in Castro Valley.) The BPAC reviewed the draft guidelines for this cycle and noted the changes from last year.
  • Updating the Alameda County Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan for Unincorporated Areas: The master plan will be updated this year, and the BPAC and Public Works need to set out the scope of work for this update. The BPAC was asked to look at other community plans for best practices, such as:
    • Data collection needed
    • Bike rack programs
    • Bike boulevards
    • Connectivity with neighboring communities
    • Number of community meetings

The BPAC next meets on Wednesday, April 20, at 6:30 p.m. in the Castro Valley Library. All are welcome to join as the BPAC begins working on developing the ATP grant proposals.

Bike Lanes for Redwood Road: A Road Diet

Redwood Road is a major corridor for everyone in Castro Valley — major destinations along a 2.5-mile stretch* of this road include a highway interchange, a BART station, two grocery stores, a high school, and an elementary school. There are bike lanes on Redwood Road between Castro Valley Boulevard and Grove Way, but venturing north of the boulevard on a bike is daunting.

As much of Redwood Road has two lanes of vehicular traffic in each direction, but no dedicated turning lane, it is an excellent candidate for a “road diet”. With a road diet, Redwood Road could be reconfigured to have one lane of vehicular traffic and one bike lane in each direction, plus a central turning lane. An example of this configuration is Grove Way, which has similar traffic volumes as Redwood Road. This could result in reduced traffic as more people make local trips by bicycle instead of by car, increased safety of cyclists on Redwood Road, and reduced back-ups from cars turning left during busy hours.

A road diet for Redwood Road, as envisioned by BikeWalkCV member Bruce Dughi at the Bike East Bay retreat.

A road diet for Redwood Road, as envisioned by BikeWalkCV member Bruce Dughi at the Bike East Bay retreat.

Some specific benefits of a road diet for Redwood Road:

Between Seven Hills Road and Mabel Avenue:
In low traffic conditions, all the traffic would easily fit into one moving lane. During high traffic conditions, the second moving lane is of little help anyway as wherever people want to turn left, they cause a back-up in the left moving lane. A driver often has the choice between getting stuck behind left-turning cars in the left lane, or potentially getting stuck behind a bike in the right lane. Having a left-turn lane in the middle and a bike lane to the right would solve both problems, and prevent the risks associated with the constant changing of lanes. (Thankfully, Alameda County Public Works Agency has begun conducting a feasibility study on a road diet on this section of Redwood Road; BikeWalkCV has requested they continue the study to at least Jamison Road and then to Castro Valley Blvd.)

The Intersection of Heyer Avenue and (Southbound) Redwood Road:
The new center lane could become a far longer left turn lane at the traffic light with Heyer. Currently, cars waiting to turn left often block the left moving lane because the left turn lane is far too short.

The Intersection of Seven Hills Road and (Northbound) Redwood Road:
Few cars driving north on Redwood are turning right at Seven Hills, and thus few use the right-hand lane when it turns into a turning lane. Everyone has to change lanes at some point prior to the intersection into the left moving lane. The right turn lanes could be easily removed, without any effect on car traffic, and the road diet continues!

Alameda County Public Works Agency is studying the feasibility of a road diet on Redwood between Seven Hills and Heyer — that’s a start, and our next step is to advocate for a road diet all the way to the boulevard!

* Note that the Active Transportation Program (ATP) guidelines consider distances less than 3 miles to be a reasonable biking distance.

Dorothea Beringer also contributed to this post.

Proposed AC Transit Service Changes in Castro Valley

AC Transit is proposing a substantial change in bus service in Castro Valley. AC Transit Line 32 and AC Transit Line 48 will be eliminated, and a new Line L10 will run through Castro Valley.

Route of the proposed Line L10

Route of the proposed Line L10

The frequency of this line will be every half-hour.

AC Transit has more information on their proposed AC Transit service changes in San Leandro and Hayward.

You can use this AC Transit survey to provide feedback on the proposed service changes in Castro Valley.