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Speak up for the Anholm Bikeway!

On Tuesday, April 10th at 6:00PM, the Anholm Bikeway is on the SLO City Council agenda. Again.

As some of you are aware, the SLO City Council adopted a resolution on the Anholm Bikeway Plan on February 20th as a consent item.  Subsequently, the City received a letter from members of the public outlining beliefs that the Council violated statutes of the Brown Act, by adopting the resolution as part of the consent portion of the agenda. The City Attorney reviewed the claims in the letter and concluded that the Council acted within its legal discretion and that there was no violation of the Brown Act. However, since the City’s primary objectives in public engagement are to accommodate different perspectives and encourage more residents to be involved in shaping decisions, the item has been placed back on the Council agenda but as a regular business item with the recommendation that Council rescind the prior resolution adopted on Feb 20th and take separate action on the Plan with an updated resolution. The Plan itself remains as Council approved at the Feb 20th meeting.  More details are in the full staff report.

Staff’s recommendation is to adopt the resolution with the same outcome from the Feb 20th meeting, which allows staff to continue to explore a couple more options for the middle section. There are long time residents that live in the Anholm district, and others within our community, that are vehemently opposed to any bicycle infrastructure improvement projects, as it changes the status quo that they are comfortable with. It is crucial that we, as bicycling and community advocates, continue to voice our support of these improvements that impact and improve bicycle safety, create better community and move our community forward.

Here is where you come in. Whether your live, work or play in San Luis Obispo, we need to encourage the SLO City Council to adopt this resolution as it is presented. We need you to come to the Council meeting and speak up in favor of the adopted resolution. Below is a template letter to Council and talking points. Please modify and add to bring your own experience and voice to the letter. We have a few more efforts to make on this project, but this project will set the expectation for how the City of SLO tackles our mode shift, climate action, and vision zero goals. The item is first on the public comment so be there promptly at 6:00 to speak up on April 10th at SLO City Council Chambers (map). Keep it brief and to the point, we’ll debate the options for the middle section of the plan in the near future. Additionally, you can email your comments to the Council at emailcouncil@slocity.org

Item 1 – Anholm Bikeway

Dear Mayor and Council,

I am speaking to urge you to adopt the resolution as presented tonight and agreed upon during the Feb 20th meeting. I believe this approach/resolution is an accurate reflection of your intent after a lengthy public comment on Feb 6th. I respect the decision to adopt the resolution in a more engaging fashion. This project has been contentious, but many of us are supportive of the decisions you have made and your willingness to tackle some of the difficult issues facing our city and environment. Moving forward on this project, we need to choose the option that best meets our city goals and is best for every road user and community member. Please adopt the resolution as presented tonight.

Thank you,

(Your name)

+++++

Advocacy Alert

Advocacy Alert: Bob Jones Trail Extension

Stand up for the Bob Jones Trail

Write your Supervisors & show up!

On Tuesday, May 9th the Board of Supervisors will meet to decide whether to move the Bob Jones Trail Extension project forward, or not.  At least four Supervisors need to vote in favor for the project to move ahead. Bob Jones TrailWhile the San Luis Obispo County Parks & Rec Department has found most of the funds needed to move the Bob Jones Trail forward, it is up to the county Board of Supervisors to approve the use of the money. 

If the Supervisors approve the funding, it will put SLO County in a strong position for additional funds and we could see actual construction of the Bob Jones Trail extension in the next 18 to 24 months.

Please help to move this project forward by doing the following three things:

  • Email or call your Supervisor expressing your support for the additional funding needed to move the Bob Jones Trail project forward. 
  • Show up at 9 am for the May 9th hearing to express your support for this project. We will need a large turnout for the Board of Supervisors so that the minimum four votes are obtained. The Bob Jones Trail item is currently on the consent agenda. If it stays on the consent agenda, there will be no public commentary. This is a great opportunity for signs reading “Support the Bob Jones Trail” “I <3 the Bob Jones Trail” etc. If the item is taken off of the consent agenda for discussion, public comment is encouraged. As always, be polite and respectful. 
  • Forward this request to your friends and family, especially in Arroyo Grande, Nipomo and North County.

Key points to express are:

  • Support the remaining BJT funding necessary to issue the RFP, allowing the project to move forward and become shovel-ready. 
  • SLO County will be applying for a portion of the 200+ million dollars available through ATP grants in early 2018. Having the project shovel-ready will enhance our chances of receiving $10 million in state funds for construction of the BJT extension. 
  • We have already lost significant grant money for this project due to delays, and are at risking of losing an additional $250,000 grant if progress is not made soon. 
  • Funding for this RFP will not impact the County’s progress on the Nipomo Parks projects that are in the works.  

Below is the contact information for the Board of Supervisors.

District 1: John Peschong, jpeschong@co.slo.ca.us
District 2: Bruce Gibson, bgibson@co.slo.ca.us
District 3: Adam Hill, ahill@co.slo.ca.us
District 4: Lynn Compton, lcompton@co.slo.ca.us
District 5: Debbie Arnolddarnold@co.slo.ca.us

Advocacy Alert

SLO City Alert! ACT TODAY!

Tell SLO City Council

Keep bike projects moving forward

Tonight SLO City Council will be reviewing staff budget recommendations that put the brakes on bike projects which were deemed high priorities in the budget priority process two years ago. It is important to reach out to City Council before 11 a.m. TODAY, or to attend the second part of the SLO City Council meeting this evening starting at 8 p.m. to comment directly to City Council to make sure that these projects don’t stall.

Whether you are sending email or commenting in person, please always remember to be respectful and to thank the City Council for the previous work to connect and expand the city’s bicycle transportation network.

Talking points:

  • I am part of the 20 percent dedicated to helping the city meet its 20 percent trips-by-bike goal.
  • In the last budget cycle, the City Council funded feasibility studies for three projects: 1) Safe Routes to School for Pacheco and Bishop’s Peak Elementary Schools, 2) a bicycle/pedestrian crossing on Foothill Boulevard at Ferrini Road and 3) the Broad Street Bicycle Boulevard. Please follow through and allocate funding for improvements recommended in the studies. Finish what has been started to provide a more safe and convenient connection for people living on the north side of the city to downtown.
  • Please delay the Penny Lane bridge over the Union Pacific RR tracks project and allocate the funding to the Safe Routes to Schools, Foothill/Ferrini crossing and Broad Street Bicycle Boulevard projects. This project is a temporary fix and the funds are better spent on shovel ready projects.
  • Thank you for securing the grant for the Railroad Safety Trail segment from Taft Street to Pepper Street, including the bridge over the railroad tracks behind California Highway Patrol headquarters. Support staff’s recommendation for a feasibility study for the next segment from Pepper Street to the Amtrak station. Complete the Railroad Safety Trail to provide a complete network for people on bikes and pedestrians between Cal Poly and downtown and eventually Orcutt Road.
  • Support staff’s recommendation to place a higher priority on the Bob Jones Trail segment between Oceanaire and Calle Joaquin over the segment from LOVR to the Octagon Barn because of limited funds. But please insist that the next budget cycle must fund the segment from Los Osos Valley Road to the Octagon Barn in anticipation of the opening of the Octagon Barn for public use, pending approval of the Avila Ranch and San Luis Ranch developments and extension of the county’s segment of the trail from the Octagon Barn to the Ontario Road staging area.
  • Please fund a feasibility study of a Highway 101 at Marsh Street Crossing to determine the best fix to the gap in the bicycle transportation network between downtown San Luis Obispo and the Laguna Lake area. Without this vital connection in the City’s bicycle transportation network, more people will choose to travel between downtown and the Laguna Lake area by personal motor vehicle for safety reasons even though the distance is easily covered by bicycle or on foot. The existing crossing to the Madonna bike path is so perilous that experienced bicyclists avoid it, and Laguna Middle School students rarely consider it as a viable option for safe travel to school. The proposed San Luis Ranch development is only responsible for its fair share of transportation improvements, and fixing this gap is not included.
  • Support continuation of $100,000 annually for miscellaneous bike projects and $60,000 annually for maintenance of bike/pedestrian facilities.

If you cannot attend the hearing, please e-mail the Mayor and City Council at: emailcouncil@slocity.org, preferably before 11 a.m. today. Address your e-mails to Mayor Harmon and City Council Members Christianson, Gomez, Pease and Rivoire.

Or you can send e-mails to each member individually:

Mayor Heidi Harmon: hharmon@slocity.org
Carlyn Christianson: cchristianson@slocity.org
Aaron Gomez: agomez@slocity.org
Andy Pease: apease@slocity.org
Dan Rivoire: drivoire@slocity.org

Remember, public comments on SLO City staff’s recommendations on the 2017-19 budget cycle will not be accepted until approximately 8 p.m. or later. The 4 p.m. session is for the staff presentation only. If you really want to attend and comment in person, a good strategy is to watch the meeting live from home on Charter Cable Government Access Channel 20 or streamed online via the City Council website at: http://www.slocity.org/government/mayor-and-city-council/agendas-and-minutes. Time your appearance on when the discussion on a petition to repeal or replace the rental housing inspection program is coming to a close.

Thank You!

Advocacy Alert

Finish the Bob Jones Trail Extension

Ask Parks and Rec to Move the Bob Jones Trail Forward

This Thursday, March 23, 2017, the SLO County Parks and Recreation Commission will consider “strategy for funding the Bob Jones Pathway Construction Documents and Right-of-Way consulting services” for the trail’s 4.4-mile extension from the Octagon Barn to the Ontario Road staging area.

At stake is grant funding for a Request for Proposals (RFP) for consulting services to prepare construction and right-of-way documents for the trail’s long anticipated extension. This work is needed to move the project to “shovel-ready” status and thus eligible for grant funding. Bike SLO County and other groups that support completion of the Bob Jones Trail disagree with the County Parks and Recreation Department staff recommendation to delay bringing any funding requests to the Board of Supervisors.

We take issue with any further delay for this project of regional significance for locals and visitors. The Bob Jones Trail extension is in the final stages of environmental study and review and needs to move forward. While the $775,000 in grant funding earmarked for the RFP are insufficient to cover its estimated $1.1 million cost, the Board of Supervisors can choose to cover the estimated $380,000 shortfall now with Parks Public Facilities Fees or funds from other sources. The important issue is for the SLO County Parks and Recreation Commission to recommend bringing the RFP funding request  to the Board of Supervisors. Failure to move forward endangers work already completed and paid for, adding additional cost and time to a project already years behind schedule.

The Bob Jones Trail extension has been promised for decades. Other pieces of the trail network, including the Octagon Barn and Bob Jones trailhead, are in the works.

The Parks and Recreation Commission meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors’ chambers in the county Government Center, 1055 Monterey St., SLO. Bob Jones Trail is item 9 on the agenda.

What can I do?

  • Attend the meeting and ask the Parks and Recreation Commission to recommend bringing the RFP funding request to the Board of Supervisors.
  • Email the Parks and Recreation Commissioners and let them know that you want the Bob Jones Trail to move forward now. Email addresses for the Commissioners:

Pandora Nash-Karner
pandora@pandoraandcompany.com

Bruce Hilton
bruce.hilton@post.harvard.edu

Connie O’Henley
connie@clarkcenter.org

Kenny Dahlen
kennydahlen@gmail.com

Whether you attend the meeting, email the Commissioners or both, here is some language that might help:

Dear Commission Chair and Members:

Please recommend that the Board of Supervisors allocate Parks Public Facility Fees or other funds to cover the estimated shortfall for the Request for Proposals to provide consulting services for construction and right-of-way documents for the Bob Jones Trail 4.4-mile extension.

This work is needed to move the extension project to “shovel-ready” status and thus eligible for grant funding. The county must fulfill its commitment to complete this stretch of the City to the Sea Trail. Further delays could cause work that has already been completed to expire, adding additional cost and time to a project already years behind schedule.

Sincerely,

(Your Name)

Additional Info:

WHEN:        Thursday, March 23, 2017 6 PM

WHERE:     SLO County Government Center, 1055 Monterey St., SLO (map)

WHAT:       SLO County Parks and Recreation Commission meeting to consider “strategy for funding the Bob Jones Pathway Construction Documents and Right-of-Way consulting services”.

Agenda: http://agenda.slocounty.ca.gov/agenda/sanluisobispo/822/QWdlbmRh/6/n/75506.doc

Staff Report: http://agenda.slocounty.ca.gov/agenda/sanluisobispo/7205/SXRlbSBEb2N1bWVudCAoUHVibGljKSA=/14/n/75504.doc

2016 Red Davis Award Winners

Last Friday we held the 6th Annual Red Davis Celebration, Bike SLO County’s yearly gala to honor meant to honor the example, the spirit, the dedication and the hard work of Red Davis and everyone else who strives to make SLO County an even better place for bikes.

Food and drinks were provided to the happy bike community crowd, and before the awards were presented Red Davis himself spoke about the history of the so many individuals who have helped make Bike SLO County over the years.

Every year it is difficult to choose the award winners – there are so many creative and energetic folks doing great work for bikes. Congratulations to all of our 2016 Red Davis Award Winners!

2016 Business of the Year:

SLO Sail and Canvas
slo-sail-red-davis-award-2016

2016 Board Member of the Year:

Chris McBride

2016 Red Davis Award

2016 Advocate of the Year:

Dave Abrecht

2016 Red Davis Award

2016 Public Professional of the Year:

Jeff Brubaker

jeff-red-davis-award-2016

 2016 Volunteer of the Year*:

Kylie Mendonca

kylie-red-davis-award-2016

2016 Volunteer of the Year*:

Audrey Surprenant

audrey-red-davis-award-2016

*This year we had not one but two Volunteers of the Year. Woo-hoo!

How to Design Cities for People: An Update

Meredith Glaser revisits questions from “How to Design Cities for People”  

A few weeks back we heard from SLO-raised but Amsterdam-based urban strategy and sustainable mobility consultant Meredith Glaser on How to Design Cities for People.

Meredith Glaser & Bike SLO County Executive Director Dan Rivoire at Bello Mundo Cafe

Meredith Glaser & Bike SLO County Executive Director Dan Rivoire at Bello Mundo Cafe

She works on a freelance basis with Dutch municipalities, on international projects with Copenhagenize Design Co, and as a guest researcher/lecturer at the University of Amsterdam. She curates and leads study tours for city leaders around the world. And with any spare time she blogs for Amsterdam Cycle Chic.

Her talk focused on three key ideas for more people-centered urban planning. First, we need to observe how people are currently using our streets and public spaces. Observing human behavior can provide valuable data for leveraging change. Second, providing choices for people makes them happy. Transportation and land use decisions that result in easily accessible services that are walkable and bikeable can change the way people move in and use their city. Finally, we need to hone and nourish our very human skill of imagining better streets that caterer more to people and places rather than cars and traffic.

Kinkerstraat Amsterdam

Kinkerstraat, Amsterdam. From top: 1981 via www.studiokoning.com; 2016 via @fietsprofessor; near future via City of Amsterdam

We had a packed house at Bella Mundo and after her talk many people asked some great (and tough) questions. Meredith took some time to write up more detailed responses to some of those tough questions.

What zoning changes would you prioritize if you were a SLO planner or policy maker?

I’m not a California zoning code expert, but in true cycling cities, like those in the Netherlands and Denmark, daily needs services are within close distances from where people live and work, and the zoning code is flexible enough to allow for uses to change and adapt with the changing needs of a neighborhood. Mixed use developments with grocery stores, pharmacies, child care and schools, doctors, and other specialty retail strategically placed on the ground level and concentrated on corner sites should be prioritized. Downtown SLO neighborhoods would greatly benefit from a full-service grocery store (or a couple) to support the daily needs of its immediately local residents. (The lot across from Bank of America would be an ideal location for a mixed use development with underground parking, ground floor services, and apartments above. Reminds me of several relatively new developments in Berkeley on University Avenue.) Downtown has ample space for infill and small scale, mixed use developments. Outside of downtown is a whole other issue. New housing developments (out off Broad for example) lack accessibility to services within walking or biking distance, which only perpetuates auto dominated lifestyles. New developments should be clustered near existing services; if they aren’t, then the developers need to provide logical and safe bicycle and walking connections to existing services, schools and other daily amenities. You can read a lot more about these kinds of examples in my new book The City at Eye Level, download it for free here.

Would you agree with the statement that we need to make driving more difficult? 

Right now our streets are set up in a way to benefit only one type of user – those driving cars.

Photo from Amsterdam Cycle Chic

photo from Amsterdam Cycle Chic

We’ve become very accustomed to the conveniences of an unbalanced transportation system that doesn’t reflect the actual costs on society – subsidized gasoline, wide streets, free or very cheap parking, and a ‘door-to-door’ righteous mentality. Modernizing our city streets means allocating some of that space to other users of the road. Best practice bicycle infrastructure that is safe and comfortable and gets people where they need to go has proved an effective way to calm traffic and ease congestion. (Imagine if those bicyclists were in cars!) Surveys from drivers in cities that have created more balanced streets showed that they appreciated the bicycle infrastructure: the infrastructure made the street easier to navigate because each user better understood their place, their role and how they should behave. So it’s not about making it more difficult to drive – it’s not a zero sum game – it’s about balancing out a very unbalanced system.

If we can’t have bike infrastructure, what’s the next best thing?

Amsterdam_Intersection

Photofrom Amsterdam Cycle Chic

Best practice bicycle infrastructure has been around for decades; it’s not new and we know how to do it. And compared to car infrastructure, it is low cost, low maintenance and benefits outweigh the risks. The next best thing to permanent bicycle infrastructure is temporary bicycle infrastructure – a trend that is already sweeping the nation. Pilot, pop-up, and demonstration projects are a great way to try out low-stress bicycle infrastructure. Plastic posts or planter boxes can create temporary protected bike lanes or sidewalk extensions. There no reason San Luis Obispo cannot try out some of the ideas that are already out there – no need to reinvent the wheel, especially with that budget surplus we heard about!

I’m not a planner or engineer; what’s my take away from this? What can I do?

Re-establishing the bicycle as a mainstream mode of transport means getting people just like you more involved. If you’re already using the bicycle as a daily transport mode, you are already doing a lot. Keep riding and keep smiling. Tell your friends to join you. Tell your colleagues to join. Have your company buy bikes to leave at the office so they bike to meetings instead of drive. You can advocate for better infrastructure and bicycle facilities by writing to the city council and showing up for city council meetings. Write letters to the Tribune. Join Bike SLO County.

How would you Copenhagenize our downtown streets?

Downtown streets were planned for cars and traffic; it’s time to give more space to people and places. There is ample space to play with and plenty of ideas already out there – just pick a couple and see what works. It’s not rocket science.

If you want more of an answer than that… The design of the streets downtown, for the most part, does not match the uses. Let’s take Higuera: three wide lanes of traffic plus parking on both sides.

Photo by Amsterdam Cycle Chic

Photo from Amsterdam Cycle Chic

This layout is not congruent with the ‘Main Street’ atmosphere, the high amount of pedestrians, and lends to a poor shopping experience. The sidewalks are so narrow people are forced to shuffle around each other. The trees provide a cozy ambiance but the parked cars benefit more from their shade than people. And the traffic is as noisy and distracting as those hideous blinking crosswalk signs. Plenty of bicyclists use the street but it’s unclear where they should ride or park their bicycles. This street (and many others) would majorly benefit from sidewalk widening on both sides, giving people more space to walk and linger – plus restaurants could place more seating outside where people can people watch and enjoy the full sun of that street. Parklets can provide a temporary solution for bike parking or restaurant tables or just more space for people to sit. Raised bike ways (or at least 6′ bike lanes with buffers for car doors) on both sides could allow for increased accessibility to shops as well as through movement while remaining low-stress, comfortable, and intuitive for all users. Again, there are great bones here and lots of space to play with!

How do you convince engineers? Or rather, why are engineers in the Netherlands already “doing it right”?

For 7,000 years streets were designed for people and by people. 100 years ago that all changed and our streets were engineered for the first time in human history. It appears as though engineers aren’t going away any time soon, so it might be time to inject some real life and real design into the engineering curriculum. In the Netherlands where cycling is an every day, mainstream form of transportation, engineers are also bicycling so they experience their work on a daily basis. That’s not the case in other cities and towns, especially in the U.S. It might be very difficult for an American engineer to imagine (and design, no less) bicycle infrastructure if he or she has never experienced best practice infrastructure first hand. I think that’s why study tours are so important. Feeling and experiencing comfortable, safe bicycle infrastructure that’s been around for a century – plus talking to the experts themselves – is better than any PowerPoint presentation.

If you’re interested in study tours check out the Copenhagenize Master Class or contact Meredith for a custom study tour in the Netherlands.

Do you think Cal Poly should play a role?

Absolutely. University decision makers need to make bicycles and mass transit clear priorities, but again linking these networks and nodes seamlessly with housing, daily needs and services, and connections to the downtown core. Bicycle parking should be ample, obvious, and intuitively placed. Policies also must limit students from bringing cars into SLO – but that has to be combined with land use decisions that provide for the daily needs of students.

Cal Poly is not the only stakeholder though. In addition to transitional city officials, key decision makers from local hospitals, SLO school district, developers, Old Mission Church and schools, major employers, and the Chamber of Commerce need to get on board. As I said last Wednesday, this isn’t about getting more bicycles on the streets of San Luis Obispo, it’s about giving people more choices for how they get around. It’s about balancing out our streets and giving more space to people. And it’s about building a better, happier, more livable town for the children growing up here.

Meredith Glaser is an urban strategy and mobility consultant. She is originally from San Luis Obispo, holds Masters degrees in urban planning and public health from UC Berkeley, and has been based in the Netherlands since 2010. Meredith holds a guest appointment at the University of Amsterdam, where she co-leads a summer program on urban cycling and conducts research on cross-national policy transfer and knowledge exchange related to mobility. She hosts other university-level student groups and international professional delegations for cycling and mobility study tours. Meredith also directs the Amsterdam office for Copenhagenize Design Co., which advises cities and towns around the world regarding bicycle urbanism, reestablishing the bicycle as transport in cities, policy, planning, communications and general urban design. In her spare time she blogs for Amsterdam Cycle Chic. She lives in Amsterdam with her husband, daughter, 4 bikes and no car.

Broad Street Bicycle Boulevard Plan Kick Off

In late March of 2016, the City of San Luis Obispo will hold an initial community meeting to begin the process of developing the Broad Street Bicycle Boulevard Plan, which improves bike options along Broad Street from Ramona Street south to Monterey Street.

The meeting takes place on March 24, 2016 from 6-8 PM at the SLO County Public Library, 995 Palm St, SLO, CA 93403 (map)

According to the City of SLO’s Press Release:

SLO emblem_rgb_for dk bkgd_sm“The City of San Luis Obispo invites you to a neighborhood meeting on Thursday, March 24, 2016, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM at the City/County Library, 995 Palm Street, to kick of the process for developing the Broad Street Bicycle Boulevard Plan. The project is intended to provide a through route for bicyclists and pedestrians serving the downtown core and neighborhoods to the north. The Plan will look at Broad Street from Ramona Street toMonterey Street, including a future bicycle/pedestrian overcrossing of Highway 101. Your participation at this meeting is valuable and appreciated. To subscribe to project updates and/or provide feedback on the project, visit the City’s online forum at https://www.peakdemocracy.com/3444.

Project Managers Jennifer Rice and Luke Schwartz are also available and can be reached at JRice@slocity.org and LSchwartz@slocity.org, or via phone at (805) 781-7190.