While an overwhelming number of residents expressed concerns about the safety risks involved with the parking configurations along B Street between 7th and 8th, the city council pulled back to take a more community dialogue-based approach on Tuesday night.
Councilmember Brett Lee said, “I think there is an issue on B St between Eighth and Fourteenth. I don’t believe current configuration in the parking restrictions are satisfactory.”
He noted that, as you ride along B Street on a Saturday, you suddenly encounter yard waste, which he says he believes they have addressed, but then you encounter a car and suddenly, he said, “where did the bike lane go? There is no bike lane on Saturdays because it’s where all the cars park.”
The way the issue was currently configured, he continued, “there are going to be some folks that are happy and some that are unhappy.”
He noted that there hasn’t “been much public comment in defense of the status quo, but we have received a fair number of emails to that effect. The emails have been more evenly split.”
Public comment heavily tilted toward changing the configuration to make it more bike friendly.
He noted that there are two groups that “are not actually talking with each other,” and council is in the middle. He said, “I don’t think there’s greater understanding developing between the two groups.”
He asked for staff to come up with a plan to address Seventh through Fourteenth. Prior to staff coming back with that proposal, “we set up a community meeting where the advocates for one path and the opponents to that path can have an opportunity to meet and talk with each other.”
He mentioned the Yolo Conflict Resolution Center that could help facilitate such a meeting.
For example, he said that there are people who like to park in front of their home. “I think it’s fairly dismissive to say park somewhere else,” he said. He noted there are people with mobility issues and they can’t just park a few blocks away. “I think if you have that discussion and that dialogue with each other, I think you’ll better be able to see where people are coming from. These are not trivial concerns.”
He also noted that there are serious safety concerns for bicyclists under the current configuration.
Mayor Pro Tem Davis spoke to the idea of conflict resolution as he stated, “One of the reasons I wanted to be on council is that what I wanted more of and what I wanted to help bring is this concept of when we have conflict that we engaged it. We don’t run away from it and we don’t stand on different sides and just talk past each other.”
He acknowledged that, for example, on the MRAP discussion last week, “We didn’t reach consensus, there wasn’t some magical moment we wrapped our arms around each other and said now we agree. But we listened to each other… and the facilitator was skilled in helping us do that. It took a little bit of time. But we listened, we shared ideas, and we deepened our understanding… in not just our positions, not just we want or don’t want, but what are the needs and interests that underlie those positions.”
“We have a lot of important conflicts in this community,” he said, because they affect our community really close to home. “People have really strong feelings about where they live.”
He sees a place for the council to help promote these dialogues. “That’s part of the leadership role that we provide in the city,” he said.
He said he thinks that what Brett Lee has put forward here could be viewed as “pushing this off.” But he said, “I’d rather see it seen as an opportunity to the kind of community where we want to be where we’re heard.”
He said he will vote for this motion despite the fact that he has a strong sense for what needs to be done here.
An overwhelming number of people came to public comment in support of changing the current configuration.
You can watch the public comments here:
This is a small sampling of the public commenters.
Michael Bisch, of the Davis Downtown, said he bikes every morning in Davis with his seven-year-old. “I would most definitely not take my kids on B Street on bicycles between Seventh and Eighth with the cars parked in the way.” He added, “It is kind of a harrowing experience when there’s a bunch of stuff sitting in the bike path.”
Kathy Scar is a teacher across the street at Davis Independent Study and supported removing the parking along B Street in that stretch. “I’m biking on B Street all the time, and certainly that section between Seventh and Eighth is constrained.”
A newly-transplanted resident who lives on D Street expressed concern that she has to go up to Eighth Street and cross at the light “to get the safer side of B Street, I’m not happy about that.” She said, “That section is treacherous.” She said there’s a huge truck parked on B Street constantly, [and] when she rides with her daughter, she rides on the traffic side “because if we have to go out into traffic… they’ll see me first and not her. The rest of the street is pretty safe. I don’t get it. I chose to come here because it’s a safe city.”
Trish Price from the Davis Bicycles! Schools Committee,which urged the council to take action “to remove all bike lane parking along B Street from at least Seventh to Fourteenth Street at all times of day and night.” She noted this was on the safe routes to school. “We must make the route truly safe for these most vulnerable users.” She noted that, because of the traffic light, B Street provides the safest crossing of Eighth Street. “Right now parked cars force bicyclists into the car travel lane even with the buffer.” She was concerned about a suddenly opening car door presenting a hazard to children.
Mont Hubbard, president of Davis Bicycles!, said they favor the option to restrict parking at all hours. He said, “We also recognize… it’s really better to deal with the street in a holistic way.” He disagreed with staff’s assessment that B Street between Eighth and Fourteenth was functional for all users. He stated, “It is striking the difference between staff’s assessment and the feelings of the users of the street.” He said they have conducted their own survey, and the vast majority of their 186 respondents felt that “B Street was a serious safety problem. 78 percent said cars parked in bike lanes are an impediment to safety. That’s only true from Eighth to Fourteenth right now.”
Darell Dickey added, “Council should eliminate all parking from Seventh to Fourteenth to protect our vulnerable users.” He asked, “How does parking in the bike lane anywhere, at any time, fulfill the council goals?” He added, “How does parking in the bike lane conform to the vulnerable user clause that’s in the transportation element of our general plan? That clause says, where limited street space exists, priority should be given to non-motorized modes to protect the safety and comfort of those most vulnerable users.” He noted that this is not just safety, because people who are not comfortable are not riding in those sections.
Councilmember Rochelle Swanson argued the need for balance. She noted that she has biked the street “and it’s not ideal.” But “there are people with mobility issues there, so the concept that there would be zero parking…” was not a good one. She liked the idea of people being in a room to talk about it.
She made the motion to have a community discussion that creates a balance of different viewpoints. Staff would be directed to schedule a fully-noticed community meeting for a four-block radius, plus a public notice for a meeting facilitated like the MRAP discussion. Brett Lee seconded the motion.
Mayor Dan Wolk supported the motion, noting, “There is a tension here and I think it reflects a larger tension in our community, it’s not just on B Street between those who have a strong bicycling background, believe in safety but at the same time we do have folks who drive cars who need to park those cars… that tension is certainly evident here and it will be very helpful to that discussion.”
He said we need to respect the concerns of those living on B Street between Seventh and Eighth and want to be able to park there.
Council voted 4-0 to support the motion, with Lucas Frerichs who lives on that stretch of road being conflicted out.
—David M. Greenwald reporting