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Macdonald Avenue Reconstruction Stiffs Cyclists

The Richmond Community Redevelopment Agency (RCRA)presented a contact for the approval of the City Council Finance Committee on February 19 for nearly $6 million for reconstructing Macdonald Avenue between Harbour Way and 19th Street with no provision for bicycles. Staff from the RCRA said this project had been reviewed multiple times by the Design Review Board and the community, but two PowerPoint presentations on the City’s website indicate the first presentation was on January 31, 2008 and the second on February 13, 2008. Obviously, the project had been designed long before these presentations. See below:


·         http://www.ci.richmond.ca.us/DocumentView.asp?DID=2879

·         http://www.ci.richmond.ca.us/DocumentView.asp?DID=2880


The lack of any provision for bicycle use is both surprising and disappointing, since bicycle access has been a constant theme in the ongoing General Plan meetings.


The highly touted Draft Health Element of the General Plan states:


Policy HL-19: Provide a comprehensive system of active transportation modes in the city

Improve mobility for populations that do not have access to a car, by connecting major destinations including, parks, civic facilities, education institutions, employment centers, shopping and recreation areas. Promote shared roadways through a pedestrian and bicycle network.


Policy HL-20: Require new development and redevelopment projects to provide pedestrian and bicycle amenities

Require projects to provide pedestrian and bike amenities including, bike lanes, sidewalks, secured bicycle parking, signage and other streetscape improvements


The Draft Transportation Element includes the following:


Policy TR-1: Enhance mobility by providing multiple modes of transportation options.

Expand public transit service and develop bicycle, pedestrian, and trail networks in the city.

Give priority to the pedestrian and bicycle network, streetscape amenities, and transit service near schools, transit, shopping, and mixed-use corridors. Improve the pedestrian, bicycle and transit experience through streetscape enhancements, focusing improvements where there is the greatest need. Improve street crossings and complete gaps in the sidewalk system through development review and capital improvement projects. Improve the integration of pedestrian and bicycle projects into the Capital Improvement Program and consider opportunities to construct improvements concurrently with other roadway improvements.

Review and update the City’s street design standards to accommodate pedestrians, bicycles, and transit. Participate in and support recommendations of the Safe Route to Schools program. Develop and implement a uniform signage program to enhance safety and ease of travel for all who use the city transportation network. Require that new development provides connections to and does not interfere with existing and proposed pedestrian, bicycle and transit facilities.


Complete Streets (http://www.completestreets.org/) that include bicycles are the wave of the future and are considered an integral part of Smart Growth, livable communities and a strategy for fighting global warming.


A Planning Department source, who shall remain unnamed, tells me: “The Planning Department brought this [bike access] issue up during several community meetings, but I guess it was overlooked.

Robert Raburn, Executive Director of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition notes that MacDonald/Barrett Bikeway, Garrard Blvd to San Pablo Ave, is already included in the Countywide Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan (2003). This on-street bikeway was adopted as a route of regional significance in the MTC's Regional Bike Plan. Furthermore, the current revision of the County Initiated General Plan Amendment for Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities (Neg Dec comments closed Feb 8, 2008) included MacDonald Ave as a proposed Class II facility.

What we have here is a city department, the Richmond Community Redevelopment Agency, that does not do a good job of coordinating projects with other City departments or the community. It is run like an autonomous agency that answers to no one.

What you can do:

The City Council, which has never seen the plan that is the basis of the $6 million reconstruction will be voting on the contract in two weeks. If you want to see the design accommodate bicyclists and conform the standards the community has asked for in the new draft general plan, press “reply to all,” and let your city manager and City Council members know.