Designated bike lanes to be extended throughout Pleasanton

Council approves plan to develop master plan for bicycle safety that will provide funds for project

The Pleasanton City Council voted this week to update the city’s bicycle master plan to provide funding and strategies for making streets and pathways safer for cycling.

The action came after the death last June of cyclist Gail Turner, 72, who died after being struck by a vehicle as she crossed Stanley Boulevard at its intersection with Valley and Bernal avenues.

Members of several bicycle organizations addressed the council a few weeks later asking that designated bikeways in Pleasanton be improved and extended, with one speaker calling the city one of the most dangerous in the Bay Area.

These groups and other cyclists were back last Tuesday as the council considered bicycle safety at a special meeting.

Michael Tassano, the city’s traffic engineer, said there were 32 miles of designated bike lanes on major streets in Pleasanton in 2006, and that there are more than 70 miles of bike lanes today.

“That’s more than double the number 10 years ago,” Tassano told the council.

Still, he agreed with cyclists that more needs to be done, pointing out that the width of traffic lanes at the newly-paved section of Bernal Avenue leading towards downtown from I-680 have been narrowed to accommodate bike lanes.

He said the extensive list of improvements completed in recent years led to the city receiving the League of American Bicyclist Bronze award.

However, the Pedestrian & Bicycle Master Plan adopted in 2010 lacks a focus regarding which projects and improvement the city should pursue in order to create a usable network of safe sidewalks and bike lanes, Tassano said.

A report signed by Gerry Beaudin, director of community development; Tina Olson, director of finance, and Nelson Fialho, city manager, provided to the City Council at its special meeting, states that “gaps exist along the bicycle network on nearly every corridor, resulting in continued obstacles when trying to ‘get from there to here.’”

According to the report, the master plan should be updated every five years. The update approved by the council will be handled by steering committee which will now shift the focus to complete the network of lanes, sidewalks and pathways. Its new goals will be to:

• Create a “low stress” bicycle and pedestrian network that may be enjoyed by all users and abilities.

• Focus on completing corridors.

Tassano said that in terms of priorities, his research shows West Las Positas Boulevard as needing attention first to provide both better safety for bicyclists and more clearly marked and extended designated lanes. At the council’s insistence, however, the busy and least protected intersection at Valley/Bernal/Stanley, where Ms. Turner was killed, should come first.

Tassano showed graphics of proposed changes at that intersection that will include abolishing the designated right-turn lane on eastbound Stanley for traffic turning onto Bernal Avenue and forcing southbound traffic on Valley Avenue to maneuver around an extended concrete curb to make right turns onto westbound Stanley.

Green-painted bike lanes would allow cyclists to ride in a new right-hand bike lane on Valley to the intersection, with a green lane marked across Stanley, and then again across Bernal to ride in an eastward direction.

Of the estimated 175 mostly cyclists in the chamber, 25 addressed the council, including a number of elementary and middle school students who read from written remarks urging the council to make city streets safer.

Steve McGinnis of the 262-member Pleasanton Peddlers organization called on the council to adopt a plan for improving bicycle safety and implement it quickly.

“There have been 35 bike-vehicle collisions at the intersection of Valley Avenue and Santa Rita Road,” he said. “We need protected bike lanes there.”

In voting to move forward on a pedestrian and bicycle master plan, which would open the door to various funds to help add new, extended and wider bike lanes and sidewalks, Councilman Arne Olson said he was distressed to see 2021 as the earliest date for completing these projects.

“This needs to be pushed up,” Olson said. “We need to see what to do and get it done.”

He suggested using money given to the city by developers to fund these improvements so some of them could get started immediately.

Work will start Monday and again on Oct. 24 at the next meetings of the Pedestrian, Bicycle and Trails committee, with the City Council planning to review that effort at another public workshop in November.

Mayor Jerry Thorne, in closing the two-hour public meeting on Sept. 13 to loud applause, said he hopes to that the council will have an updated master plan ready for adoption in December.

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41 people like this
Posted by clare
a resident of Oak Hill
on Sep 16, 2016 at 10:06 am

I am tired of cyclists who demand bike lanes and special treatment, but ignore the rules of the road. I have twice in the last week, been behind cyclists who ride and two and three abreast, positioning themselves like a car, in the middle of the road (not the bike lane provided) who went against traffic signals and ignored stop signs, if they deemed it was safe to go. They can't have it both ways; if they're going to take the place of a car on the road, the least they can do is obey the traffic signals and be held accountable.

8 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown
on Sep 16, 2016 at 11:13 am

Bravo Clare -- agree 1000%.

14 people like this
Posted by Eric
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Sep 16, 2016 at 11:59 am

I get your drift Clare and I would agree. Thing is, all of the kids need a safer place to ride as well as people that need to commute or just plain exercise. Don't let a few tools in tights dissuade you from wanting all of us to be safer. We have a beautiful city that's perfect for biking, it's pollution free, healthy travel but it's dangerous with the way people in general drive around here. We have enough asphalt in town where some can be given those on bikes. No matter what is done there will still be the weekend warrior, lycra covered, Tour de France wannabes on their ten thousand dollar shiny bikes thinking that the world revolves around them and to heck with everyone else.

27 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Valley View Elementary School
on Sep 16, 2016 at 12:20 pm

This is wonderful news. Our children especially need much safer roads. All kids should be able to ride to school using protected bike lanes where possible. This is what our Pleasanton Middle School and High school students and their parents have been asking for and the Council and City have listened. The Stanley Bernal junction and a few others like it are extremely dangerous and need modifying to prevent further accidents or deaths. Making the roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists actually makes them safer for all road users and that has been statistically proven in cities worldwide.

28 people like this
Posted by JPH
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 16, 2016 at 12:35 pm

We really don't need the motorist v cyclist debate - it really adds little to the fact that we absolutely need safer roads. Stand next to a speed detector on many roads and watch how many motorists are over the speed limit or wait next to any junction and just count the number of drivers on their phones or texting. Pedestrians should not be regarded as a hindrance to motorists who consistently drive in front of or behind them whilst they are in the crosswalk! Kids need to feel safe walking or riding to school. Everyone pays taxes for the road infrastructure and should feel safe getting around the city - whether it be by car, by bike or by foot. Great job Pleasanton City Council !

13 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton cyclist
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Sep 16, 2016 at 1:01 pm

Apparently the mayor also said if the streets were made safer for cyclists it would encourage him to get a bike!

22 people like this
Posted by LAS
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Sep 16, 2016 at 1:03 pm

I attended the council meeting on Tuesday night and was impressed at the great turnout, the work done by the traffic engineering team in consultation with the community and the response from our city leaders.

As a parent of school age children I can see the huge benefits safer cycling lanes would have for all residents of Pleasanton if more children were able to cycle to school and to after school activities. For a start there would be fewer cars dropping off and picking up at our very crowded schools, leading to less back ups and slow downs on Bernal Ave and throughout the city at these times.

As a first step I particularly hope that cross walk signaling will be altered ( as has been done already on Hopyard) so that when a pedestrian or cyclists hits the button to cross the road, it does not show green for cars wishing to drive across that route simultaneously. I believe that step alone would hugely increase safety.

24 people like this
Posted by Steve McGinnis
a resident of Sycamore Heights
on Sep 16, 2016 at 1:55 pm

The motorist vs. cyclist debate is a tangent that diverts consideration of the very real issues that Pleasanton faces. Most of the bike-auto accidents in our town involve children going to or from school. Often they are in the wrong, but would be less likely to get injured with protected bike lanes and a little education.

Do cyclist run stoplights and signs? Sure they do, and in the same percentages as motorists. I suspect that if all of us who eased through a stop sign were to stay out of this discussion forum, none of us would be here.

More cogent to the debate is that for each bike on the road, motorists will have fewer other cars in traffic, greater availability of parking, less damage to roadways that are expensive to repair and shorter lines to wait for gas. I think the benefits to community health from more exercise and reduced pollution is evident to all. And, with protected designated bike lanes, everyone, motorist and cyclist alike, will have a better understanding of how they should interact.

21 people like this
Posted by Bettina Baumgart
a resident of Downtown
on Sep 16, 2016 at 2:28 pm

Thanks for the good coverage of the meeting, Jeb Bing.

Making our city safer for cycling is all about the entire community. Have you ever noticed the horrendous traffic when school starts in the mornings?

That's why we need protected bike lanes that let our kids bike to school. Research has shown that biking or walking to school does not only relieve traffic congestion, but also contributes to the overall health of kids. They are even learning better in school when they get a chance to move a bit before they have to sit down.

And for the rest of us, that use bikes as alternative transportation to go grocery shopping, to go to the dentist, to meet up with friends, we also need protected bike lanes so we can feel more comfortable and not always use the side walks, as I often have to do.

13 people like this
Posted by Dp
a resident of Danbury Park
on Sep 16, 2016 at 3:01 pm

Most if not all cyclists are motorists too. When we drive, we want safer roads, when we ride bikes we want safe roads, and when we walk we want safe roads. We need safe roads for all of us, motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

Being a cyclist makes me more conscious of driving a car. I'm much more patient than when I was younger. I look out for cyclists or pedestrians on the roads or side walks. Driving, biking and walking on public roads are our privilege. At the end of the day, we all want to be back at home safe.

5 people like this
Posted by PBiker
a resident of Foothill High School
on Sep 16, 2016 at 3:36 pm

The article does not mention closing the gap in the Iron Horse Trail along Valley. Was this discussed at the meeting?

9 people like this
Posted by Karl Aitken
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Sep 16, 2016 at 4:02 pm

I think it is great the city is trying to put more focus on how to improve the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.

I think the one thing missing in all the activity is that the drivers in Pleasanton don't seem to care about the safety of cyclists and pedestrians. I've lost count of the number of times I have almost been hit in a crosswalk on my many miles of walking around the city. Many are on their cells phones, others are just in a hurry and can't be bothered to take 30 seconds extra to let a pedestrian to complete crossing the street. Some just wave at me - not sure why.

I think the city needs to put more effort in some sort of awareness / enforcement program to get people to care about safety when they are driving their cars around town. Maybe hiring a traffic officer that moves around town ticketing these people. And make the tickets high dollar so it really hurts, even the rich people.

4 people like this
Posted by Steve McGinnis
a resident of Sycamore Heights
on Sep 16, 2016 at 4:39 pm

I owe you all an apology. Only 38 of the 102 collisions (37%) in the City''s Colision Report involved children under age 18; and there were 35 bicycle-auto collisions last year citywide.

14 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown
on Sep 16, 2016 at 7:56 pm

For the record, I am a cyclist and I am in favor of safer riding conditions. I am also sick and tired of cyclists who do not obey the rules, they make the entire group subject to road rage incidents by fed up drivers. I am also completely opposed to drivers who ignore the rules as well. It is way past time for the PPD to actively enforce road rules on EVERYONE. Cyclists who run lights, drivers who text and drive, any failure to obey the rules is reason for a ticket.

Too bad that we have to legislate and enforce what should be common sense and common courtesy on the part of everyone.

15 people like this
Posted by local
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Sep 16, 2016 at 9:39 pm

Yesterday I saw a guy on a bike with both hands on his cell phone, emailing or texting and not looking at the road at all. Some people seem to have a death wish.

I ride a bike also but agree there are too many bicyclists who think that rules do not apply to them. These are not the casual riders but those in their spandex, usually in a group. I hope the police can do some more patrolling in the Vineyard area and give those who ignore the rules a ticket. They are making it dangerous for all bike riders.

3 people like this
Posted by Jim van Dyke
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 17, 2016 at 11:12 am

It seems to me that people reading the article above fall into one of two camps:
1) Blamers. These people blame the other person, always someone very different from them, and in this case different in the way they choose to get from one place to another. In the blamers' world, all bike riders throw caution to the wind and all motorists are remarkably safe It's worth mentioning that I know cyclists who are blamers too, believing that everyone who drives a car or truck is dangerous and everyone who cycles is perfect.
2) Realists, These people live with the awareness that there are dangerous or safe people using all modes of transportation.

I for one put a lot of volunteer time into solving real problems, and notice that few blamers ever seem to do the same. If you've read this far and wish to make a difference, I'd like to get you to back away from that keyboard and get involved to improve the state of the things you're complaining about. You also might try riding all modes of transportation our streets, in order to gain some empathy for those who are not like you.

Last request, perhaps more of us can start posting with our real name, and own our positions?

4 people like this
Posted by Rob
a resident of Mohr Park
on Sep 17, 2016 at 3:19 pm

Hi all,
It seems some pedestrian or biker is getting killed every couple months. Stone ridge Dr, First St, Foothill Rd, Santa Rita Rd twice same crossing, Stanley etc... given the rampant build going on, there should be a solution to stop this growing problem.

10 people like this
Posted by Cyclist and car driver
a resident of Ironwood
on Sep 18, 2016 at 2:19 pm

I thank the city council for their supoort for safer roads for families and cyclists. This has never been a competition about cyclists vs car drivers. Most bicycle riders are car drivers. It's all about giving kids and families the ability to ride their bikes around town safely. Just like there are good drivers and bad drivers, there will good riders and bad riders. Let's be positive and not generalize.
One more note, people who explore town on their bikes are more likely to stay around town and do things around town, i.e. Eat at downtown Pleasanton. Thanks again!

2 people like this
Posted by Regular Biking
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Sep 19, 2016 at 11:56 am

Regular Biking is a registered user.

This is great for someone like me who just enjoys a cruise around town, stops for lights and people and cars and just wants to feel safe...I have to agree some of those "professional bikers" are extremely cocky and almost seem to "test" people in cars to see how close they can get??? I just want to feel safe out for a ride..

3 people like this
Posted by MD
a resident of Heritage Valley
on Sep 23, 2016 at 9:51 am

MD is a registered user.

I was present at the meeting and enjoyed Michael Tassano's presentation. I was very pleased by the Council pushing for an early completion of the proposed improvements. Cycling should be a safe way for children to get to school and for adults to get to work and for all to enjoy the wonderful feeling of cycling through our beautiful town and surrounding countryside. Some above point out that they have seen lycra clad cyclists breaking the rules but that is the exception. The colorful tops help them to be seen and so are safer and most are breathable so they are comfortable too. Happy cycling and stress free driving!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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