Friday, August 15, 2014

Transportation Tips: Get your views heard and back them up with straight facts

Photo: Riverside Transit Agency

By: Nicholas Ventrone, Community Engagement Director
riversidetransit@gmail.com


The Riverside Transit Agency has recently opened a public comment period for its proposed 10 Year Transit Plan. I've posted an introductory Let's Debate about it on this blog on Wednesday. RTA has solicited public comments and I encourage you to get involved in the debate. More on that in a moment, but first here are some of your views concerning the proposed Meadowood and Lilac Hills Ranch developments taking place in the hills of north San Diego County.

Your Views

Whatever the final plan is (for the San Diego County Meadowood/Lilac Hills Ranch master plans), it needs to include better biking accommodations. Painting a 'BIK LAN' in the gutter of a 6-lane arterial isn't acceptable. Warrants should be adopted that identify when mixing traffic is no longer advisable (i.e. pce > 5000, 2+ lanes/direction). Also important is that biking to any BRT corridors is made easy, convenient, and inviting, especially from developments that are within 3-5 miles.  marven/IE Transit Talking Points Blog 

Photo: © Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Regarding the gutter, great point. With all ideological spin set aside, bike lanes that include a two foot concrete gutter can expose a serious safety risk for any ill-maintained corridor. That is a fact. I've seen numerous examples of two-foot concrete gutters being parts of four or five foot bicycle lanes which can cut the paved lane section down to three feet in width, even for higher speed arterials. Some storm drains can cut deeper into the lane. I've ridden through such examples and seen some of the hazards first hand. The risk is this: Whenever the joint that separates the paved asphalt from the concrete gutter is not sealed, has a gap, or is not level with the road, that creates a serious balancing hazard simply because the fault makes it difficult to track a bicycle wheel in the center area of the lane since the joint hazard is generally is located near the center--two feet into a five foot bike lane. Being a safety issue, this should be looked at from the state and federal level. An idea I would submit into the debate is that the joint separating the paved road and concrete sections must be maintained to be completely flat and level at all times and a maintenance plan must be at the ready; if not, the gutter and storm drain infrastructure cannot count toward the minimum bike lane width. In addition, local officials should take this risk under consideration and discourage such designs.

Regarding your other points, both the major and connector roads probably should have Class II lanes and the transit station should have bicycle amenities. San Diego County has generally done a good job of ensuring its transit centers are cycle-friendly. The developer is planning Class I paths through the open spaces; however, I don't have the information of whether or not they will be multi-use trails that would support bicycle travel or if they will simply be pedestrian footpaths.

(Lilac Hills Ranch) is a plan development that has a number of homes, walkable community and a lot of trails. It will have parks, community centers, and a sports center. It will have housing for the elderly, there is a care facility, a water reclamation plant that has storage. Anyone who is in Valley Center on the outskirts knows that is a welcome thing. It has a number of things. -Nancy Layne/KPBS


I found this quote from a Lilac Hills Ranch supporter of whom was interviewed by KPBS. The interview was actually part of a great debate on this project. Be sure to watch it if you're active in this discussion.

The dissenter in this debate is Steven Huchinson who is also the secretary for the Valley Center Community Planning Committee. He responded to Layne's statement by talking about conflicts about the general plan and labelled the development as leapfrog. I've brought up that point last Monday. However, the point Layne made about Lilac Hills' amenities being desirable and "welcome" is opinionated spin because the statement implies that since these features are generally desirable--which they may well be, then the Lilac Hills Ranch development must be desirable too. The truth is those amenities do not prove the case for the rest of the questionable development. Here's how:
  • Class I trails in the area - Nothing wrong with that. But go to La Cresta, a vast rural-ranch development master plan in the hills west of Wildomar to see some examples of how they can be integrated without the mass tract development.
  • Parks - Again, nothing wrong with those. Rural communities can and should have them. La Cresta has a giant ecological reserve open space located next door. If the Lilac Hills Ranch investor proposed 100 rural/ranch estates on the 608 acres and integrated an open space design into the plan with wildlife corridors and public space, we may have better proposal.
  • Sports center/Assisted Housing/Water reclamation - I find that Layne's statements may be incorrect here. I don't think the citizens may want a sports center on the outskirts of Valley Center. Plus, senior housing should generally be located within close reasonable distance of medical services but smaller group homes can work in rural areas. Also, public works industrial facilities such as a water reclamation plant need to be developed in areas designated for such use, not on a rural hillside. I can see how that proposal alone can muster community opposition. I would say that these extra features should be discussed with the citizens living in the community.
Transportation Tip: Whenever I argue a point, I always attempt to present a solution that is fair and best for the people and to back up the position with hard facts, history and examples. With the proposed mid-range RTA changes in store, there's going to be plenty of personal and emotional-based comments submitted to RTA. There's nothing wrong with voicing an opinion. But be sure to back up your position with facts and try to understand where RTA is headed with the proposed changes. If you oppose a specific routing proposal for a good fact-based reason, propose an alternative solution which fulfills RTA's overall attempt and goals.

In terms of the development proposals in San Diego County as I've mentioned earlier, there are multiple ways for investors to capitalize on rural properties without the urban sprawl. Perhaps the Lilac Hills Ranch investor can capitalize by developing 100 rural estates at about 5-6 acres each on the 608 acre lot each surrounded by beautiful green avocado and citrus groves.

Whenever you comment or debate in public hearings which includes RTA's public comment period of the 10 Year Transit Plan, back up your statements with facts and examples, refrain from including any ideological or political spin, and provide sound and fair alternatives if you object to any proposal. Yes, The Transit Coalition is pro-transit, but our positions are fair and fact-based. If you keep your argument straight, you're more likely to muster a better response since you have a rock-solid case in your hands.

1 comment:

  1. Back again. I encourage you to look at the plans for the Harmony development proposed in Highland. In it, the majority of their arterials will include at least one adjacent Class I, with there being one on both sides of the road the majority of the time. That is far superior than the Class IIs on arterials in numerous regards that stretch beyond just maintenance. Completely forgoing the Class IIs for 'sharrows' would be better in those instances. Also, since it will likely involve completely new construction or substantial reconstruction anyway, those paths need to be designed so that the intersections aren't at grade level from the very beginning.

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