Aug. 2018 Planning Commission Recap: 40th St. Corridor Study Session, New Commissioners Introduced
After a two month hiatus, the Planning Commission reconvened on August 23rd with two newly elected commissioners. Tito Young and Jonathan Hidalgo were both appointed by our City Council at the July 12 meeting to terms running until 2020. In addition, current Commissioner Christine Thomson had her term renewed for two more years.
While the agenda was light this month, there was a major discussion surrounding the potential changes to the 40th Street & San Pablo corridor.
Study Session: 40th and San Pablo Bus Hub Draft Concept Options
The entirety of the meeting was spent reviewing and discussing draft concepts for a re-design of 40th street and part of San Pablo Avenue (SPA) to improve overall efficiency of the corridor and also to try to strike a balance between motor vehicle use and use by other means of transportation, including bicyclist and pedestrians.
The draft concepts were produced by Community Design + Architecture, who was hired by the City in September of 2017 to perform a review of current conditions of the corridor and recommend ways of better utilizing the space. The concepts are broken into several options for the City to consider, and they are generaly grouped into two large categories: the first is a collection of options for updating 40th between SPA and Adeline Street (the major transit hub), while the second category are options for updating 40th street west of SPA to the Shellmoud Bridge.
Options for Section Between San Pablo Avenue and Adeline Street:
Option 1 for updating 40th between SPA and Adeline would include minor changes without any major realignments of the street. The changes proposed under this option includes painting the transit-only lanes red, moving the AC Transit Route 57 bus stop farther from SPA, adding a bike through-and-right-turn lane at SPA with a concrete island to protect bikes, and squaring off two corners.
The estimated result of these changes would be reduced bus time maneuvering in and out of lanes, and a reduction in bicycle accidents. The transit-only lane could increase traffic, especially in the west-bound direction.
With Option 2, a substantial reorganization of traffic and transit operations as well as of the physical design of the bus hub would occur. Space for this reorganization would be gained by the elimination of the transit‐only lanes and the left‐turn lane at the SPA intersection. The additional space would then be allocated to raised cycle tracks and a significant widening of the bus passenger environment. This would result in the addition of a bike-only signal phase there, creating long boarding islands, adding bike lanes between boarding islands and sidewalks, widening the sidewalk on SPA, and adding a “bike box” at the southeast corner of the intersection to facilitate left turns from 40th street eastbound to SPA northbound.
This option would also require a realignment of the eastern curb north and south of SPA in order to create a wider combined transit passenger and overall walking environment north of the intersection. The utilization of Option 2 would create benefits for both bicyclist and pedestrians who would enjoy the wider sidewalks and raised bike lane, but removal of the transit-only lane and the left-turn onto SPA could result in increased congestion at the intersection.
Finally, Option 3 can be viewed as a potential add-on to Option 2, and it would further expands on the improvements by eliminating the left‐turn lane at the 40th St. and Adeline intersection. A turn would still be permitted but would occur out of a combined straight and left turn lane on 40th Street. Additional space is gained by the complete elimination of the existing median and would result in the widening the sidewalk more than Option 2, and lengthening the boarding areas.
The removal of the left-turn lane at the Adeline intersection could increase travel time, especially for cyclists who noted during public workshops that the signal in that intersection takes too long. In addition, the wider sidewalks would present the City with the possibility of adding amenities such as improved landscape and green infrastructure. The main drawback, as with Option 2, is the potential for increased travel times due to the removal of the protected turn lanes and transit-only lane.
Options for Emery St. to 40th/Shellmound Bridge
Two sets of options have been developed for the part of 40th St. west of Emery Street. One set (Options 1A and 1B) keeps the on-street parking on the north side of 40th. The other set (Options 2A, 2B, 3A, and 3B) replaces the parking with a two-way cycle track on the north side and adds an eastbound bus-only lane on the south side.
Options 1A (Protected bikeway) and Option 1B below include a boarding islands at bus stops, with a bikeway between the boarding islands and sidewalks. Both require acquiring an easement from adjacent property owners at eastbound bus stops to have enough room for the sidewalk. At mid-block, Option 1A places a separated bikeway between parked cars and the sidewalk on the north side of the street. The bikeway on the south side would be separated from the travel lane by a buffer with plastic posts. On both sides, the bike lane would go between bus stops and the sidewalk.
Option 1B (Bike lane near travel lane) places a bike lane between parked cars and the vehicle travel lane on the north side of the street. Westbound and eastbound bus stops and the bikeway on the south side of the street are the same as for Option 1A.
Options 2A (Two bus-only lanes, bikes at vehicle level), like options 2B, 3A and 3B below eliminate on street parking on the north side of 40th Street, add a two-way cycle track on the north side of 40th Street, and add a new bus-only lane for eastbound buses on the south side of 40th Street. Like Option 1, all of these options require easements from adjacent property owners on the south side of 40th Street to have enough room for the sidewalk. Option 2A also converts a westbound vehicle travel lane to a bus-only lane.
Option 2B (Two bus-only lanes, bikes at sidewalk level, widened sidewalk with trees) moves the curb on the north side of the street to widen the sidewalk, puts the cycle track at sidewalk level, and moves trees to between pedestrians and bicycles/vehicles. Option 2B also converts a westbound vehicle travel lane to a bus-only lane.
Option 3A (One bus-only lane, bikes at vehicle level) is the same as Option 2A except that it keeps two mixed-flow westbound vehicle lanes (not converting one to a westbound bus-only lane).
Option 3B (One bus-only lane, bikes at sidewalk level, widened sidewalk with trees) is the same as Option 3A except that it moves the curb on the north side of the street to widen the sidewalk, puts the cycle track at sidewalk level, and moves trees to between pedestrians and bicycles/vehicles. Westbound and eastbound bus stops are the same as for Option 3A.
In addition to producing the various options there was several attempts to get public comment to ensure any changes to 40th incorporate changes people want to see. From a survey that was sent out, a majority of the respondents (80%) would like to see cycle tracks and improved bus lanes in lieu of keeping parking spots along the west side of 40th. Others, including Susan Woan from the Granite Expo, would like to see the parking stay as it is vital to customer traffic.
While all of this is preliminary, the Commission was receptive and appreciative of the numerous options to consider at this early stage. Commissioner Keller voiced his support for options that could increase the use and safety of 40th street for cyclists, which he said is a focus of the City’s attempt to promote alternative transportation methods.
“As a bike commuter and a person who walks through our city, I am struggling and still trying to get the general public and specifically our legislative bodies to see bicycles and pedestrians as number one, a transit option… I think those needs are often subjugated because they are not seen as equals to cars, buses, etc.”
However, several of the commissioners voiced concern with various aspects of the proposed plans. Commissioner Keller and Hidalgo both opposed the option of having a two-way cycle track. As Commissioner Keller summed it up:
“I am strongly opposed to two-way cycle tracks…and the other thing I am very concerned about is that two-way cycle tracks are never seen as a con…two-way cycle tracks can be very dangerous… the success of these do not outweigh the benefits.”
Commissioner Thomson agreed with Commission Keller about the two-way cycle option, and also voiced her concern that there wasn’t enough details about how the various intersections would work in practice,
“where the intersections happen and what is going to happen at the intersections, that is essential, and I have no idea [from the initial diagrams and information].”
Chair Donaldson voiced her hope that the various transit improvement projects, including the proposed Hollis transit corridor, will coordinate as the evaluation phases moved forward. Currently there has been no formal in-depth coordination between the various projects, but the hope is that once a more formal design has been approved there will be a more holistic analysis of these projects to ensure none of them are done in a vacuum.
In addition, Chair Donaldson would like to see more detail on transition areas where buses and other vehicles would be interacting,
“The thing I keep coming back to for all of these options is the transitions and not being very clear on how the transitions are going to work. [where the bus pulls in and pulls out and how that interacts with the bikes].”
After review of the options by the Planning Commission, Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory, Transportation Committee and other stakeholders, the consulting team will develop a detailed conceptual design including intersection treatments for further review and discussion.
View the Entire Staff Report →
Additional opportunities to weigh in on the options presented can be done at the city’s upcoming advisory committee meetings posted on the city’s website.