San Clemente’s Bicycle Plan Wins American Planning Award

Brenda Miller, San Clemente’s untiring bike advoc, posted this last night and we reprint it verbatim:
Great news to share: the Orange Section of the American Planning Association has awarded the City of San Clemente the top prize in transportation planning in recognition of our new Mobility and Complete Streets Element / Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. [You can read it yourself, here.]

2014 is the first year the Orange Section has recognized transportation planning, so San Clemente’s vision has, once again, made history: we’re the first ever in OC to receive the award.

The panel of jurors complimented San Clemente with some pretty awesome language in their letter: “This Plan fulfills all of the criteria for this award: planning and innovation, compatibility, engagement, effectiveness and results . . . ” They called our vision for the future “exceptional.” The judges have also endorsed the Plan for consideration at the State of California award level. So stay tuned!

Notably, the judges also recognized our inclusion of multi-modal level of service in the Plan: “We were also impressed with the innovation to evaluate transportation system performance in terms that go beyond level of service for automobile travel to account for non-motorized and transit modes of moving people . . . [t]his innovation is established as a General Plan Mobility and Complete Streets Element policy that recognizes there needs to be more research and experimentation to identify appropriate new performance metrics.”

As many of you know, I’ve long advocated for multimodal level of service as the key to efficient transportation networks (& the use of taxpayer dollars to fund them). But MMLOS is also key to transportation equity: we should all be able to safely get where we want to go based on our own freedom to choose the mode of travel that suits us best.

Personally, I am not only honored with the APA’s recognition of our Mobility Plan, but also to have collaborated with San Clemente’s planners, engineers, consultants KTU+A, City Council, City Manager, General Plan Advisory Committee, and Planning Commission. Our Mobility Element was a (6-year) team effort extraordinaire, from concept to completion.

To those who inspired us: thank you. To those we hope to inspire: dream big–there’s no such thing as can’t!

For a few photos from the award ceremony, please see the PEDal Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/myfeetfirst

Sincerely,
Brenda

Victory on Vaquero

San Clemente pushed past another obstacle to Complete Streets implementation last night when City Council voted 3:2 to repave and restripe Vaquero, a 56′ wide connector currently featuring a 12′ painted median residents had insisted provided a necessary refuge from speeding traffic which plagues their neighborhood.

Vaquero, February 2014. Eliminating the painted median will slow motor traffic, and allow modern bike lanes and will actually facilitate driveway access. What’s not to love?

The median was installed at resident pleading by a previous traffic engineer; rather than slow down speeding traffic it pushed motorists toward the right hand edge where a substandard bike lane forced cyclists into the travel lane at every parked car.

The median was a “warm blanket” for residents who emotionally defended it at the meeting. Councilmen Chris Hamm and Jim Evert led the majority toward sanity with Mayor Tim Brown swinging the vote. We’ve more work to do convincing citizens and electeds that 99% motorist mode share does NOT mean 99% of the consideration must go to cars. That ain’t Complete Streets.

Elimination of the median– which served primarily as a convenient place for residents to turn left into their driveways– allows for buffered bike lanes, narrowed travel lanes, and still allows plenty of on-street parking neighbors wanted. Left turn pockets at critical intersections will remain in a final plan.

San Clemente Bases Loaded, Poised for Home Run on El Camino Real

San Clemente’s Planning Commission last night approved the most bicycle friendly highway design in Orange County.

Cross section of El Camino Real (PCH) in San Clemente shows, Metrolink train, pedestrian on Multi-use path, south- and north-bound bicyclists on Multi-use path, landscaped divider, south-bound cyclist in the Bike Lane, 10′ car lane, 3′ median, 10′ car lane, northbound cyclist in the Bike Lane, and pedestrian on the sidewalk. Complete Street, indeed!

Old Hwy 101,a.k.a. Pacific Coast Highway, was turned over to the city by Caltrans after the I-5 freeway was built. Called El Camino Real, it has languished as a 4-lane, then 3-lane, and now down to to 2-lane  arterial. Over the years it’s had bike lanes of various widths and sidewalks some places. But always motorists have treated it like a full speed alternative to the freeway.

In a year or so that will end. A model Complete Street rebuilding will add a Class 1 Bike Way– that is, a multi-user paved path– to the ocean side of the road, and extend a sidewalk the full length on the inland side. The travel lanes, reduced to 10 feet in width, will slow motor traffic and Class 2 Bike Lanes from 5 to 8 feet wide will run both ways.

The multi-use trail is essential because San Clemente’s popular Beach Trail attracts many times the pedestrian and casual bicycle traffic that was expected. And most of the thousands of users expect a similar amenity to connect to Dana Point. Runners, sight-seers, stroller pushers, beach cruisers, and family bikers all want a trail separated from motor traffic. The city expects high volumes on the new trail, especially on weekends, holidays, and busy summer afternoons.

Class 2 Bike Lanes are intended to attract higher speed cyclists, singly or in peletons, which are the single largest non-motorized group on El Camino Real today.

Funding was achieved through a combination of Federal and State monies and the design phase has take a year. The effort has been sheperded by the city’s Traffic Planning Manager, Tom Frank with copious input from Pedal’s Brenda Miller, and local bicycle advocates including OCBC Director, Pete van Nuys.

 

Road Donuts Good for Diet?

Are donuts good for the diet?
When speaking about roadways the answer appears to be yes. Of course, in this case donuts refers to roundabouts such as we see in Orange or Irvine.
When seen from above, roundabouts look like donuts placed at intersections.

City of Orange

City of Orange “Road-Donut” with a park

City of Irvine – Twice as Good

Roundabouts are different than traffic circles in that there no signals or controls. Traffic in the circle has priority, or the right of way over traffic entering the circle forcing drivers to slow down and enter the circle as gaps in existing traffic permits. Because there are no traffic controls the flow is continuous, resulting in increasing the traffic throughput through the intersection.

Properly designed roundabouts don’t allow for tangential entries. All entries point to the center of the roundabout forcing vehicles to decrease their speed to navigate to the right, although some modern designs have flared entries by adding a lane for increased capacity. Pedestrian safety is improved by routing separate crosswalks away from the intersection so they only have to deal with traffic in one direction at a time.

The problem for traffic/ transportation engineers is maintaining the flow-rate to areas downstream of the roundabout so  a shift in congestion (and resulting delays) does not occur.

History

Roundabouts or gyratories were designed in 1877 by the Architect for the City of Paris, Eugène Hénard. In 1907 the Place de l’Etoile became the first French gyratory, followed by several others in the city. American architect William Phelps Eno designed New York City’s Columbus Circle which was built in 1905. The main difference in the two men’s designs lay in the diameter of the center island. Hénard favored an island of at least 8 meters (26 feet), while Eno favored a smaller diameter. Perhaps it is from here that we have the “Portland” and “Seattle” designs of today.  Regardless, the United States favored traffic circles and rotaries being controlled by signal devices for the rapidly growing automobile population which resulted in such traffic tie-ups that they fell out of favor by the 1950s.

Land values also contributed to the demise of circular intersections because eliminating land consumed by the safer free flowing roundabouts, or signalized traffic circles, meant that buildings could be built with greater density and greater profit.

Today and the Future

After recently taking a look at the intersection of Bayside and PCH, and every intersection along the way to Laguna Beach, the question arises, “could what was old become new again”? Therefore as a thought experiment we present the following ”

Proposed Makeover

Proposed Makeover in Newport Beach

Each blue dot represents an appropriately designed and implemented roundabout built to the highest safety standards and Complete Streets guidelines. Traffic would flow smoothly to and from the coast as well as up and down through Newport Beach, making this area not only a pleasure to travel through (as in commuting) but a pleasure to travel to (as in tourists).

Since this area was bought from the state by the City of Newport Beach, we suggest a serious consideration be made by city planners in their five year planning strategy to accommodate greater numbers of roadway users while increasing their safety on the City’s roads.

While we don’t have the hard numbers, some savings will result from decreased costs of city response to collisions, and elimination of electrical signals and their associated maintenance. With minimal reconfiguration of existing infrastructure, we are confident of the merits of this design. Maybe in a future post we’ll put up some soft numbers to quantify the potential return.

And there you have it, a brief introduction of roundabouts which if applied properly, will serve the County and City well in reducing speed, reducing air pollution, increasing traffic throughput, and most importantly increasing roadway safety for all road users far into the future.