The results from the recently released UC Davis Campus Travel survey are encouraging. The results from the 2013-14 survey show that around 47 percent of the people traveling to campus on an average weekday commute by bike, whereas only 24 percent drive alone.
That represents nearly a 25 percent increase from 2007 when 38 percent of commuters used their bicycles. The 2013-14 survey calculated that approximately four people are riding in each vehicle coming to campus on an average weekday, significantly more than the ridership per car at other campuses, and only 24 percent of commuters drive alone.
The average UC Davis commuter generates 7.6 lbs. of CO2 equivalent emissions each day, down from 12 lbs. of CO2 per person in 2007.
During a time when communities are attempting to cut back on their carbon emissions and get people out of their vehicles, these are encouraging findings.
Housing is a key condition that determines how people travel to campus. Natalie Popovich, who is the graduate student who administered the 2013-14 survey, wrote in the report, “The results suggest that mode splits vary substantially by neighborhood. Bicycling to campus is especially prevalent among individuals living in Central and Downtown Davis. Those living in Downtown Davis are much more likely to walk to campus than individuals living elsewhere. Driving to campus is more common from the neighborhoods of East and South Davis, and taking the bus to campus is more common from North and South Davis.”
The survey results show that commuters are less likely to bicycle between south Davis and the campus as opposed to other parts of town. This suggests that I-80 and the train tracks represent a perceived barrier even though there are tunnels and access points.
A few weeks ago we reported on the city’s application that would allocate $160,000 in Roadway Impact Fee funds to cover the estimated costs to prepare the Project Study Report and authorize initial work on Richards Boulevard interchange improvements.
“Approximately 400 bicyclists and 200 pedestrians cross the Richards Boulevard interchange every day. North of I-80, between the freeway and the Richards underpass, the Richards Boulevard interchange is a four-quadrant cloverleaf,” staff writes. “The interchange configuration, in which all vehicle movements are uncontrolled, results in high vehicle speeds onto and off from the freeway ramps. These high-speed movements create a safety concern for all modes on Richards Boulevard, particularly bicyclists and pedestrians.”
This becomes fodder for a Bob Dunning column over the weekend. Mr. Dunning notes, “The problem, of course, starts with the narrow two-lane tunnel that chokes traffic coming into and going out from the lovely and charming city of Davis. It’s a historic tunnel, you see, and when ‘fixing’ it was put on the ballot a number of years ago, the argument was that expanding it to four lanes would be growth-inducing.”
Regardless of the Richards Underpass, the interchange is problematic, feeding large numbers of vehicles onto an already congested roadway without clear rules of engagement. Rather than having a lane to absorb the traffic, particularly the westbound exiting traffic onto northbound Richards, which merges directly into the main traffic lane.
Given bicyclists, pedestrians, and the interflow of traffic, this is problematic.
In the meantime, the city is looking at a Hotel Conference Center across the street, and Nishi is being planned with potential access on Olive to Richards Blvd.
City voters rejected a plan around 15 years ago to widen the Richards underpass to four traffic lanes. While widening the underpass was perhaps seen as growth inducing, the larger problem would have been that congestion would have been pushed into the downtown as the narrow streets would not be able to handle the high volume of traffic coming through the underpass.
Anecdotally, during the morning commute when backups at the underpass are at their worst, the highest volume of traffic turns left at 1st Street and heads toward campus. This suggests that potentially rerouting traffic flows onto campus might be a better solution that widening the roadway.
Encouraging alternative transportation such as the train, where people could then walk or bike to campus, is another way to go. That dovetails into the discussion from the previous section on mode share in travel to campus, while studies suggest less than a quarter drive alone, clearly the university should be finding ways to further reduce those numbers, especially as Nishi and other projects come on line.
Regardless, fixing the interchange is needed and long overdue. However, even if Davis gets the funding, don’t expect changes very quickly. It will take about five years for the planning to occur and construction would not begin until 2022.
As we know, the 5th Street project took years to plan and get approved as well. That was a dangerous situation. Planning takes time, but perhaps the city can look at ways to expedite things.
Comparing Employee Salaries
The Center for Investigative Reporting has launched Payday California “to provide additional information and more context for public employee pay.”
It is based on data collected and published by the California State Controller’s Office, which “has collected and published compensation data on as many as 700,000 city and county employees annually from 2009 through 2012.”
“Payday California also includes additional employee compensation records from the 10 most populous counties and 10 most populous cities in California. CIR requested data for calendar years 2008 through 2012; the state controller’s data currently includes 2009 through 2012.
“The data we obtained from cities and counties differs from the state’s in two additional ways: 1) We include employees’ names; the State Controller’s Office does not. 2) We asked for employees’ gross pay prior to deductions. The State Controller’s Office requests employees’ total wages subject to Medicare taxes, which tend to be lower than gross wages.”
Naturally, we ran the city of Davis’ numbers. Unfortunately, the most recently available year is for 2012. We suggest you hit the link to go to the site since it is interactive: http://payday.cironline.org/city/davis/.
—David M. Greenwald reporting