As If Platinum Level Bike Paths Weren’t Enough, Now There Is a New Isle of Skye Level Bike Path Standard

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by Matt Williams

The City of Davis has developed a Beyond Platinum Bicycle Action Plan to improve bicycling in Davis.  In developing that Plan, City Staff has employed an integrated, multi-modal approach to include walking and transit.  The bicycle action plan (see http://bicycles.cityofdavis.org/beyond-platinum-bicycle-action-plan) is intended to be a community action plan through both the development and implementation phases.

The updated plan is implementation focused and includes a package of infrastructure projects, programs, and pro-bicycle policy work in order to further improve bicycle transportation and recreation in and around Davis.

Five years from now (2017), The City of Davis and the nation will recognize the 50th anniversary of the nation’s first bike lane. The timing of this event presents an enormous opportunity for Davis to plan and implement an aggressive bicycle action plan and to culminate the completion of the plan with a series of world class events to showcase the city’s national leadership and commitment to bicycling as a cornerstone of a comprehensive, active transportation system.

However, the Isle of Skye has thrown a significant wrench into the planning for Platinum Level bicycle paths by establishing a new Isle of Skye Level bicycle path standard.  They just sent out the following video to show other communities what the new highest level bicycle path standard is.  Their motto is “If you want to go beyond Platinum, reach for the Skye!”

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About The Author

Matt Williams has been a resident of Davis/El Macero since 1998. Matt is a member of the City's Utility Commission, as well as a former Chair of the Finance and Budget Commission (FBC), former member of the Downtown Plan Advisory Committee (DPAC), former member of the Broadband Advisory Task Force (BATF), as well as Treasurer of Davis Community Network (DCN). He is a past Treasurer of the Senior Citizens of Davis, and past member of the Finance Committee of the Davis Art Center, the Editorial Board of the Davis Vanguard, Yolo County's South Davis General Plan Citizens Advisory Committee, the Davis School District's 7-11 Committee for Nugget Fields, the Yolo County Health Council and the City of Davis Water Advisory Committee and Natural Resources Commission. His undergraduate degree is from Cornell University and his MBA is from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He spent over 30 years planning, developing, delivering and leading bottom-line focused strategies in the management of healthcare practice, healthcare finance, and healthcare technology, as well municipal finance.

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23 thoughts on “As If Platinum Level Bike Paths Weren’t Enough, Now There Is a New Isle of Skye Level Bike Path Standard”

    1. Mont Hubbard

      Let’s take something serious from this (very nice) joke.

      On the sadder side, the city of Davis just yesterday lost our Active (bike and pedestrian) Transportation Coordinator, DK Kemp, who is moving to a similar position in Boulder. He needs to be replaced (if this is possible) quickly with someone who can continue to push forward the progress we have made over the past three years. DK’s efforts really energized us.

      Our Beyond Platinum bike plan is so named to highlight the facts that we do have Platinum status (we were the first to be awarded this by the League of American Bicyclists) and that we aspire to their next level (Diamond) when they choose to so designate some cities.

      But this shouldn’t cover up the fact that some aspects of our city’s present bike policies and infrastructure aren’t even worthy of Platinum status. These were pointed out by LAB representative Steve Clark, LAB’s Bicycling Friendly Community Specialist, when he spoke before the Council on April 15, 2014. Specifically:
      1.     We still allow yard waste to be piled in bike lanes, endangering cyclists.
      2.     And city staff (and Council) absolutely refuse to consider automobile travel lanes as narrow as 10 feet which effectively act to calm automobile traffic.  Clark noted that “Most cities now are trying to have narrower travel lanes so that they can widen the bike lanes. I would say really go for a 10’ standard; that is considered now the optimum [automobile] lane width when you are trying to make it work for everybody.”

      How can we get to the Skye when we’re still fighting these battles down here on the ground?

      1. darelldd

        refuse to consider automobile travel lanes as narrow as 10 feet which effectively act to calm automobile traffic.

        Staff and council have considered (and implemented) 10′ general use lanes in Davis – but not for the reason of increased road safety for all users. So far, 10′ lanes have been employed primarily as a means to accomodate on-street car parking.

        The precedent is there for proper-width lanes. We just need to revisit the priorities!

    2. Matt Williams Post author

      Actually DB it is both humor and seriousness rolled into one. There is a very serious and well-planned effort under way to achieve the Beyond platinum status in/for Davis, which will improve the bicycling experience for all Davis bicyclists (and walkers) from elementary school age to geriatric age. We will maximize the accomplishments of this effort if we all do our individual part. A good place to start is to know that the effort is under way.

      The humor is hopefully entertaining.

      Think of it as both/and.

    1. Dave Hart

      It strikes me that with the deteriorating status of our street surfaces, the piles of green waste on our thoroughfares and the increasingly hostile automobile drivers who are irritated at the very existence of bike facilities would dictate that those of us who ride bicycles should develop Macaskill’s skill set just to do simple errands around town. Maybe the city can send us to clinics in Scotland so we can be safe on Davis streets.

  1. Frankly

    And city staff (and Council) absolutely refuse to consider automobile travel lanes as narrow as 10 feet which effectively act to calm automobile traffic.

    That would tend to support bus traffic too… not.

    The pursuit of higher and higher bike certification seems to benefit a small group wanting higher and higher bike certification and not the city in general.  And each step higher would result in negative consequences for other residents.

    At some point enough is enough and the activists should celebrate and find a new cause.

     

    1. Alan Miller

      As someone who drives, bikes and walks, I disagree.  We have tons more to do for bicycling in this City.  The “new cause” is the next step in improvements.

    2. Mont Hubbard

      Frankly:

      pursuit of higher and higher bike certification 

      First, as a cycling advocate I don’t care about the certification itself. I want the infrastructure to be safe and comfortable. If this brings certification then OK, but the change from unsafe conditions is what I desire.

      seems to benefit a small group 

      Second, the group concerned is not so small. We are talking about the transportation choice of roughly a quarter of our residents, not a fringe minority. And we are talking about the allocation of public space for the greater overall good. As an example take parking on the segment of B Street between 7th and 8th, the narrowest arterial in the city. Retaining on-street parking there improves convenience for the few residents, but it endangers more than a thousand cyclists a day who ride past this location. This is not the right call if the goal is more total public good.

      That would tend to support bus traffic too… not.

      Third, buses do fine in 10 foot lanes. Unitrans runs more than 200 buses a day on B St between 4th and 5th on lanes that are 10 feet wide or less with no difficulty. Both the previous and present general managers of Unitrans have supported 10 foot lanes in Davis but the City won’t have it, even though they exist in numerous other US cities. Here is a photograph taken last week of a street with two 10 foot travel lanes in Carlsbad, CA that supports both buses and large trucks. The California Department of Transportation has recently restriped this portion of California Highway 1 by reducing vehicle lane widths from 12 feet to 10 feet in order to provide a buffer that improved comfort and safety in the bike lanes. This is a California state highway in a city.
      .
      Streets
      .
      In a survey of public works departments nationwide by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, 88% reported that they had used lanes 10 feet wide or narrower. As a result there is room for the important buffer between the higher speed motorized traffic and the cyclists in the bike lane. Giving cars and other motorized transportation wide lanes merely encourages higher speeds than posted and endangers the more vulnerable users. Traffic calmed streets allow all segments of the population to safely transport themselves using their chosen mode.

      1. Frankly

        Do you guys fall asleep at night thinking of the next “crisis” of bikers to perpetuate your anti-auto transportation utopia?  I drive, bike and walk.  I need to do all three.  All three need to be considered for road design.  10 ft wide (very narrow) streets to make wider bike lanes is going too far.   When walking I encounter more danger from bikers not paying attention than autos.  Maybe we need double-wide sidewalks and narrower bike lanes.

        1. darelldd

           I drive, bike and walk.  I need to do all three.  All three need to be considered for road design.

          This is exactly what is being pushed by the very people you are asking to stop pushing.

          When walking I encounter more danger from bikers not paying attention than autos.

          The best way to reduce the danger you are facing from cyclists is to give cyclists proper infrastructure that’s on par with what we currently have for automobiles. Allow cyclists to get where they need to go conveniently, safely and comfortably, and this danger you speak of will be minimized. Continuing to claim that we should stop doing things to make cycling better just continues to generate more of what you are complaining about right now.

    3. Tia Will

      Frankly

      Your post misses the point that having a higher percentage of walkers and bicyclists does benefit us all. It benefits us in terms of better air quality, less money spent maintaining roads, overall health and wellness, less automobile accidents. Shifting the predominant form of transportation away from the private automobile does benefit everyone, not just a favored few.

       

    4. darelldd

      That would tend to support bus traffic too… not.

      It appears that even after Mont covered this, you are still confused about what 10′ general purpose lanes represent. We already have 10′ lanes in town. And busses run on them without issue. 10′ is fast becoming the new standard, and once again we find that Davis is behind the curve in adopting this effective use of a finite width of paved road. Surely we don’t need wider lanes in the town of Davis than Carlsbad is using on HWY 1?

      The pursuit of higher and higher bike certification seems to benefit a small group wanting higher and higher bike certification and not the city in general.

      The only people who benefit from “higher bike certification” are those who seek some sort of bragging rights. The advocates that I know are not looking for certification, they are looking for proper facilities that safely benefit all forms of transportation. In fact I have personally written a letter to the folks who bestow these certifications asking them bluntly to NOT award it to Davis util we deserve it.  While the certification may benefit a small group as you claim, it is not the small group that you imply.

      Proper infrastructure – known today as “complete streets” – does benefit the city in general. Tia pointed out many of the benefits that are shared by all. Cleaner air, fewer collisions, better health. And I’ll add that as cycling becomes safer and more comfortable for everybody,  fewer people will make the poor choice to drive a high-speed, long-distance heavy vehicle for short-distance, low-speed intracity travel. This has the result of bringing everything down to human scale. Of quieting our roads. And maybe most important to the non-cyclists, it reduces congestion significantly. As more people cycle instead of drive, air water and noise pollution are decreased, collisions decrease and our streets become safer and less congested

      And each step higher would result in negative consequences for other residents.

      I cannot find a negative consequence of fewer traffic injuries, less congestion, cleaner air, reduced noise pollution and a healthier population. You would like to trade all of that in for one more foot in the general purpose lane? What is the benefit of wider lanes? The only one I know if is the incentive for automobile drivers to exceed the speed limit. Then we end up building in traffic calming – like speed bumps or stop signs or any other manner of annoyances. Have you perchance noticed how well the new 5th street is working… even now that the students are in town? The residents who live there can actually walk across the street now! Cyclists can get from one end of town to the other without having to stop every block. And the cars are moving through without any more congestion than existed before. It isn’t perfect, but the whole system is calmer and safer than ever.

      At some point enough is enough and the activists should celebrate and find a new cause.

      I do not want narrower general use lanes and wider bike lanes because I am an advocate. I am an advocate because I want a human-scale town that’s built around our varied transportation needs, and a desire to protect our most vulnerable road users. There are no losers here. There is nothing in the Beyond Platinum plan that harms any segment of people. In fact everything in that plan will result in improved safety and health for all residents.

      You should be thanking and joining the people who are advocating for safer transportation… not disparaging them for making our town better.

  2. DanH

    Gimme a good old smoked ‘addock and my saddle sores will vanish on the raw rocks the Isle of Skye. Patch or repave the Davis greenbelt bike paths and I’ll be happy. I’m not looking for bicycle adventure, just an avenue of transportation.

  3. hpierce

    Saw that DK is moving to Boulder.  Guy is personable, great on self-promotion and representing the zealot types, and based on my conversations with folks in Fort Collins (previous gig), not very talented in effective contributions.  No real background in ‘balanced’ transportation engineering, only bicycle.

    1. jrberg

      Nice little bit of character assassination for a guy who helped bring in about $5 million in infrastructure grants last year, as well as representing all those “zealot” children wanting to ride their bikes to school safely.

       

      1. Alan Miller

        True, but at least he made the character assassination as himself, so that others may character assassinate him for character assassinating someone else.

    2. PhilColeman

      I don’t know anything about DK lacking talent, or lack of effectiveness elsewhere. His contribution here will be summarized by many, and soon. However, it should be noted that DK did successfully compete against other qualified candidates in the Davis selection process.

      The “folks” in Fort Colllins making this judgment are not identified, no examples were apparently worthy of mention, nor were their views sufficient to prevent DK from coming to Davis–and now going to Boulder. Fort Collins’ and Davis’ officials were surely contacted prior to either of these cities offering David the job. I guess they did not talk to the right folks.

      If DK is to be faulted for zealously representing cyclists to the exclusion of other views, look at his title. He was a cycling advocate and just doing what his job description required.

      One criticism made I can categorically refute from direct personal experience. Based on numerous conversations with DK on cycling-related issues in the greater Davis community, self-promotion was virtually undetectable in his personality. He preferred to facilitate and stimulate others to take leadership roles in cycling measures. Calling him a self-promoter is false.

       

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