CONCORD -- Concord is developing a plan for a network of bikeways and pedestrian routes that provide safe access to public transportation, shopping and schools.
The goals of the citywide bicycle and pedestrian master plan include improving access for cyclists and walkers to the Pleasant Hill, North Concord and Concord BART stations; guiding investment in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure; making better connections between the regional trails network and downtown; and ensuring safe access to schools, regional transit lines, downtown and other areas in the city.
Concord has $300,000 in grant funds for the project plus $20,000 in city matching funds from Measure J, the countywide half-cent sales tax that pays for transportation projects.
Monument Impact and the Community Wellness and Prevention Department of Contra Costa Health Services are working with the city to develop the plan and solicit input from residents through a series of public workshops. The county department also will advise the city on policies related to improving sidewalks, bike trails and other infrastructure. In May, students from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo counted bikes and pedestrians at key intersections throughout the city to collect a traffic data for the project.
Although a consultant will write the bicycle and pedestrian plan, staffers recommended that the council appoint a temporary steering committee to help guide the project, which is expected to take 12 to 14 months to complete. City staffers suggested a five-member committee made up of a planning commissioner, two members of the Parks, Recreation and Opens Space Commission and two residents. However, several council members wanted to include additional community members to ensure that a broad cross-section of neighborhoods are represented on the committee. Several cycling advocates urged council members to establish a permanent committee to develop future bicycle and pedestrian policies.
The council's Infrastructure and Franchise Committee will review options for a committee and make recommendations to the full body.
"I look forward to safer sidewalks, safer streets and safer pathways for bikes to be able to travel; so I think we're headed in the right direction," Mayor Tim Grayson said at a recent council meeting.
Councilwoman Laura Hoffmeister expressed concern about the $200,000 budget for the consultant to work on the bicycle and pedestrian plan.
"That's a lot of money for bicycles, bikeways," she said, "I know they're important, but I just look at this and think we build four-lane boulevards with consultant costs that are less than this."
But Andrew Mogensen, interim planning manager, explained that the consultant will write the plan, analyze the data, conduct research and prepare an inventory of the city's streets to determine where bike lanes can fit. Given Concord's size, the budgeted amount may not be enough, he added.
"One of the challenges about bicycle planning in Concord now is we have some very narrow right-of -ways," Mogensen said. "We may not be able to fit bike lanes into some of our streets."
Lisa P. White covers Concord and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.