Pleasanton now has a new set of strategies to guide future improvements to the city’s bike and pedestrian network.
The City Council unanimously Tuesday adopted the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan update, a 274-page document that culminates nearly 18 months of work among city staff, consultant Fehr & Peers Transportation Consultants, the Pedestrian, Bicycle and Trails Committee and local residents.
“It’s been a very transparent process. It’s been a good government process, and this is a great document,” Vice Mayor Jerry Pentin said toward the end of the nearly hour-long discussion in the council chamber Tuesday night.
“This I think actually gives us a place to go and make the accomplishments we want,” added Pentin, a self-proclaimed “bicycle guy.” “Moving forward, I think we really have things that we can all look at, we can all talk about and we can all weigh in as each of these (projects) come forward.”
First adopted in 2010, the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan calls for updates every five years to keep the city competitive for funding opportunities and to make sure the city is meeting the needs of the community, according to city traffic engineer Mike Tassano.
Key components of this first update include reducing gaps in the city's bicycle networks, improving comfort levels for cyclists and pedestrians, and a new priority-ranking system. It also incorporates two new goals: creating a low-stress bicycle network for all ages and abilities and completing corridors in the near-term network.
The city's bike network was broken down into 16 corridors, each with its own list of projects or studies, and then ranked based on criteria of safety, connectivity, demand, feasibility and safe route to school.
The top-priority corridor is West Las Positas Boulevard, followed by Santa Rita Road at No. 2 -- major east-west and north-south routes, respectively.
Rounding out the top six, in order, are the interstates 580 and 680 overpasses, Foothill Road, Stanley Boulevard and Bernal Avenue. Tassano said his goal is to complete as many projects within the top six corridors as possible in the next five years.
City staff recommends that 80% of available funding go toward projects in the top-ranked corridors while the remaining 20% be available to key individual projects in other areas.
The updated plan suggests strategies for bicycle and pedestrian improvements the city could explore, but individual projects would return to the City Council for approval once designed and vetted by the public, Tassano said.
The council and city staff attempted to allay concerns from some residents who contacted them thinking the plan update adoption meant certain projects were already being approved, such as possibly converting driving lanes on West Las Positas Boulevard into enhanced bike lanes.
“I just really want to confirm … for example West Las Positas, there’s no engineering plan already done,” Councilwoman Kathy Narum said. “(Staff’s) going to look at it and then it’s going to go through a public process so that people in particular that use West Las Positas will get a chance to weigh in and we won’t have the surprises.”
For bicycle improvements overall, the plan update suggests new strategies including protected bike lanes, buffered intersections, bicycle boulevards and bicycle boxes, sometimes in conjunction with two-staged left turns at major intersections.
New recommendations for pedestrian facilities include a pedestrian hybrid beacon -- similar to pavement flashing crosswalks but with a red signal requiring drivers to stop -- and reducing or eliminating so-called "slip lanes" for right-turning vehicles at some major intersections to reduce speeds and enhance safety.
More than two-dozen cycling enthusiasts attended the meeting at the Pleasanton Civic Center, and the council heard comments from 10 residents, all of whom spoke highly of the master plan update, praising it as comprehensive and forward-thinking.
“This Bike-Ped Master Plan is progressive, it will improve safety, sustainability and livability in Pleasanton, and it really does lay out an impressive vision for an all ages and all abilities network,” said Susie Hufstader, of Bike East Bay.
“Today’s Pleasanton was built for cars, with little thought to other types of transportation,” resident Sharon Piekarski said.
“I believe that if we make our streets safer for bicycles and pedestrians, then more people will choose to leave their cars behind when traveling to school, to work and on errands, which will in addition to reducing pollutants also relieve traffic congestion and parking issues,” she added in support of the plan update.
Other than suggesting some additional short-term fixes or urging the council to find funding for more bike projects, the lone criticism came from BART representative Rachel Factor.
She said the transit agency was impressed by the plan but “slightly disappointed” it didn’t prioritize better bicycle improvements on Stoneridge Mall Road to connect to the West Dublin-Pleasanton BART station.
Pentin retorted by questioning whether BART officials were looking to improve bike-access problems on its property at the eastern Dublin-Pleasanton station. Factor said efforts there are in line for Measure RR funds.
To get the ball rolling on the city's new efforts, staff recommends allocating $900,000 for West Las Positas Boulevard work and $200,000 for various other bike projects as part of the latest capital improvement program, set to be adopted by the council later this month.
Tassano acknowledged the city will need to seek out grants and other funding sources, internally and externally, to complete its bike and pedestrian improvement goals. The master plan identifies nearly $70 million in projects — the vast majority being bike projects.
“This (plan) opens the door for us to go out and get grant funding,” Councilman Arne Olson said. “Unfortunately, money is the object here, and we need more of it. I think grants are a way to go after that and hopefully speed up some of this implementation.”
And moving forward with strategies and goals outlined in the master plan update will help achieve the overarching goal of increasing cyclists and pedestrians around town, according to supporters.
“I had to drive my car today … and I passed a cyclist while I was leaving work, and 45 minutes later the cyclist passed me,” Pleasanton resident David Fisch said, drawing chuckles from council members and the audience.
“(Cycling) is a viable form of transportation, and what we’re doing here to support that I think is wonderful,” he added.