The bicycle advocate and member of Valley Spokesman, a local bicycle enthusiast group, will help oversee along with six others, a comprehensive plan for bicycle and pedestrian routes throughout the city.
It's an undertaking that was approved by the City Council in September and got under way recently. The city plans to fund the preparation of a master plan that will layout such issues as what bike lanes need improvements on city streets, how to efficiently connect segments of the Iron Horse Trail, address where new bike lanes are needed and offer suggestions on how to improve overall bicycle and pedestrian safety.
The money comes from a $111,000-grant from the Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority (ACTIA).
The group, called the Bicycled Pedestrian Advisory Committee, is made up of seven members: representatives from the Parks and Recreation Commission, Trails Ad Hoc Committee and Planning Commission and four at-large members.
At Monday's committee meeting, the group reviewed work proposals from three consultants interested in being hired to develop the plan. After scoring each consultant, the committee decided that Alta Planning and Design and Fehr & Peers will present their proposals at the next committee meeting Feb. 4.
One of the issues the members plan to tackle during the formation of the master plan is bicycle advocacy. Youth representative Melissa Ott rides her bike to school. One such problem she's encountered is waiting an inordinate amount of time at the Mohr Road-Santa Rita Road intersection to cross Santa Rita to get to school. She said she doesn't understand why there isn't a striped crosswalk but yet bikes are allowed to cross there.
City traffic engineer Mike Tassano, who is one of the city's staffers heading up the meetings, explained that despite logical thinking that striped crosswalks are safe, they aren't. In fact, he said they give pedestrians and bicyclists a false sense of security when actually, the city has recorded more accidents between vehicles and those crossing when a crosswalk is striped as opposed to when it's not. The city has tried working with the police department on pedestrian "sting" operations--where an officer pretends to be a pedestrian crossing the street--but stopped conducting them after officers had a few close encounters with cars.
One officer said she was done after her hand was on the hood of a car in one particularly close call, he said.
"It was unsafe for officers and it didn't change driver behavior, so now (police) focus efforts on educating students at schools about safety," Tassano said.
The group will also utilize the Community Trails Master Plan for guidance.