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Piedmonters Say Drivers' Behavior Endangers Walkers and Cyclists

A draft needs assessment for the city's Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan summarizes local residents' major concerns about the ease and safety of walking and cycling. The draft will be presented to the Piedmont Planning Commission today.

SUMMARY

Does Piedmont need improvements to make it safer for pedestrians and bicyclists?

The answer is an emphatic yes, to judge by more than 1,600 comments collected by city planning staff and consultants in preparation for a "needs assessment" for the Piedmont Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan (PBMP).

Among the highlights:

—Piedmonters are most concerned about pedestrian and cycling safety on four streets: Grand, Oakland, Highland and Moraga avenues.

—Many people cite drivers' behavior, including speeding, as among their top concerns.

A draft version of that assessment will be presented to the Piedmont Planning Commission today at 5 p.m. in the City Hall council chambers, 120 Vista Ave. The public will have an opportunity to comment on the assessment.

The drafts needs assessment is available for download on the City of Piedmont website here.

DETAILS

Piedmont residents gave their opinions on the current conditions for pedestrians and cyclists at community meetings. via an online community survey and through letters and emails.

According to the draft needs assessment:

• A disproportionate number of comments and concerns involve just four streets: Grand, Oakland, Highland Ave and Moraga.

• Many other comments relate to what could be considered a “second tier” of streets of concern. These streets include Blair, Hampton, Linda, Magnolia, St James and Wildwood, among others.

• A large majority of the concerns regarding the streets mentioned above stem from driver behavior: (1) Not stopping, yielding or slowing down (an issue of greatest concern to pedestrians, especially kids, at crosswalks); and (2) Speeding (of concern to everyone but perhaps especially to cyclists, who feel “squeezed out” by fast‐moving traffic).

• A large number of comments related to walking concern the need to improve intersections, crossings and crosswalks. Also, many pedestrian‐related comments concern the Civic Center, not surprising since that area has the bulk of key community destinations.

• Many of the comments related to biking mention the need for bike lanes or marked and signed bike routes.

• The program or activity most often cited is the need to promote walking — and, to a much lesser extent, biking — to school, particularly as ways of reducing traffic congestion and pollution.

• Four challenges were seen by more than 60 percent of survey respondents as discouraging people “a lot” or “somewhat” from walking in Piedmont. These can be interpreted as being the most important obstacles to pedestrians in Piedmont: Speeding or aggressive drivers; poor lighting; steep hills; unsafe crossings.

• The most important obstacles to cyclists in Piedmont [as indicated by survey respondents]: Speeding or aggressive drivers; few or no bikeways; steep hills; and dangerous intersections. 

The needs assessment will be used to develop a set of recommended projects, programs and policies.

The PBMP is being funded entirely through a grant from the Alameda County Transportation Commission and through the city’s existing funds for pedestrian and bicycle improvements (pass-through Measure B funds), also distributed by the Alameda CTC.

For more information about the PBMP, contact City Planner Kate Black atkblack@ci.piedmont.ca.us or at (510) 420-3063.

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