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.

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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.

BikeWalkCV Survey Results

We at BikeWalkCV wanted to learn more about the specific issues, problems, and roads that were concerning Castro Valley residents, so we reached out to residents (in person, online, and through school email lists) and invited them to take our survey. We received 280 responses from January 2015 through March 2015. Many people in Castro Valley enjoy walking or riding a bicycle, but are limited by the lack of infrastructure — read on for the full results!

Question 1: What is your connection with Castro Valley?
The vast majority (84%) of the respondents to our survey live in Castro Valley. A significant number, 41%, indicated that they enjoy cycling in Castro Valley. The full chart of responses:

Responses to question 1.

Responses to question 1.

Question 2: How often do you and/or your family walk or bike in Castro Valley? [pick one]
A majority (58%) of respondents indicate that they walk or bike in Castro Valley at least three times a week. Increasing this percentage will result in significant health benefits for those who begin walking or cycling more frequently. The full chart of responses:

Responses from question 2.

Responses from question 2.

Question 3: What types of walking and bicycling trips do you and/or your family take in Castro Valley? [check all that apply]
Over two-thirds of respondents (68%) indicate that they walk or run for exercise, and 39% indicate that they bike for exercise. The percentage of respondents who indicate that they bike to shop, work, parks, or to visit friends is relatively low, considering that the scale of the flatlands of Castro Valley is well-suited to biking. The full chart of responses:

Responses to Question 3.

Responses to Question 3.

Question 4: Please rank, in order of importance, the biggest challenges in Castro Valley to people walking and bicycling more, with 1 being the least of our challenges and 9 being our most imposing challenge.
A striking 71% of respondents selected “sidewalks are missing” as either the most imposing or second most imposing challenge. This was followed by 55% of respondents selecting “bike lanes are missing” as one of their top two imposing challenges. The challenge, “Drivers are not aware of people walking and bicycling” was selected as one of the top two imposing challenges by 41% of the respondents. The full matrix of responses is below:

Question 4 responses

Question 4 responses

Question 5: What are your top three streets for improving walking in Castro Valley?
Since the survey asked respondents to prioritize the streets named, we assigned three points to every mention of a street as a first priority, two points to every mention of a street as a second priority, and one to every mention as a third priority. Somerset Avenue was the clear “winner”, followed by Redwood Road, Seven Hills Road, and Heyer Avenue. The full tally of popular responses is below. (Note that many people gave a more general response such as “sidewalks” or “near schools”; we tried to capture them in our analysis.)
q5table_walk

Question 6: What are your top three streets for improving bicycling in Castro Valley?
As before, since the survey asked respondents to prioritize the streets named, we assigned three points to top priorities, two points to second priorities, and one point to third priorities. We tried to capture general responses such as “more bike lanes” and “all roads near schools” in our analysis, as well. The top three streets mentioned were Somerset Avenue, Redwood Road, and Castro Valley Boulevard; Heyer Avenue was a distant fourth place. These streets form the backbone of any bicycle network in Castro Valley. The full tally of popular responses is below.
q5table_bike

Question 7: Please indicate your level of agreement with the following statements, with 1 being little agreement and 5 being strong agreement.
Probably the biggest surprise here is the number of responses from people who would like to use BART, but find themselves thwarted by the lack of bike parking, car parking, bus routes to BART, or low frequency of trains.
q7responses

Join us in a Parade!

The third annual Light Parade is on Saturday, November 15, at 5:30 p.m. along Castro Valley Blvd (between San Miguel and Redwood) — and we’ll be in it!  Want to join us? Get your walking shoes or bikes (and helmets) ready, deck yourself out with some glowsticks, and RSVP to us at bikewalkcv@gmail.com.

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