Bicycle & Pedestrian Commission
February 21st, 2008 Regular Minutes
Roll Call: Chair David Young, Vice Chair Julia Sommer, Jim Olney, Steve Ryan,
Mick Church, Matthew Seiler (absent), Tom Burnham (absent)
Council Liaison: David Chapman
Staff: Derek Severson, Associate Planner
Steve McLennan, Police Officer
RVTD liaison: Absent
High school liaison: Vacant
SOU liaison: Vacant
Call to Order
Chair Young called the meeting to order at 5:19 p.m.
Approval of Minutes – January 21st, 2008
Church/Olney m/s to approve the minutes as presented. Voice vote: All AYES. Motion passed.
Bill Heimann, League of American Bicyclists-certified bicycle safety instructor, noted that he would be conducting the League’s “Road 1” course on March 8th from 8:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the Grove in cooperation with the Ashland Parks & Recreation Department. He encouraged all present to attend with a bike, helmet, lunch, and an open mind. Heimann noted that there are now three certified instructors in Ashland – himself, John Caldwell, and Kat Smith of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA). He noted that the class was open to adults 16 and over, but that children 14 and over could attend with an adult, and added that the Road 1 course is a pre-requisite for taking the Instructor class.
Egon Dubois, bicycle safety instructor and cycling advocate with the BTA, discussed the inadequacy of the street crossings on Siskiyou Boulevard. He explained that the speeds are 30 m.p.h. or more, pedestrians dress in dark clothes, and both drivers and pedestrians are distracted. He stated that Siskiyou is unsafe and solutions are needed, and he recommended that the City reach out to other communities like Portland, Eugene, Boulder, and Santa Cruz to identify user-friendly, low-cost solutions.
Young requested that Siskiyou Boulevard safety issues be added to this evening’s agenda as a discussion item.
Dubois noted that there seemed to be little momentum building for Car Free Day, and suggested that all Commissioners make a commitment to participate and divide up the work evenly to make it seem less daunting. Severson noted that Steve Maluk was resigning from RVTD which could have an effect on their ability to support the event at least in the short-term.
Subcommittee & Liaison Reports
Church briefly recapped the Croman Mill Site meeting.
Ryan noted that he was trying to recruit an SOU liaison, and had approached the ECOS club looking for interested members.
Young noted that he had sent the letter discussed last month to ODOT regarding the IAMP proposals, and had received a response that they would be forwarding the letters to the bridge design team.
Severson briefly recapped recent meetings dealing with the Transportation System Plan and the Wheeldon Memorial.
Chapman noted that the five privately donated benches he’d been working on placing with Parks would be installed along the Central Ashland Bikepath (CAB) at Garfield Park, near the ball fields and at Walker.
Pedicab Proposal – “Ashland Eco-Cab”
Marco Alvarez explained the request for a pedicab permit and noted that he would like to potentially add two more bikes in the next year. He added that he would like to have the permit be free of restrictions on the area of operations, and suggested that his clientele would be split 80/20 between tourists and locals and should result in a reduction in traffic. He indicated that the primary hours of operations would be between noon and 2 a.m., and he discussed the details and features of the pedicab.
Ryan/Olney m/s to recommend that the Traffic Safety Commission approve the permit request. Discussion: Alvarez noted that he had prior experience operating a pedicab for two months in Santa Barbara, and he added that the insurance would cost $1500 per year for the required coverage. Matt Warshawsky, Traffic Safety Commission Chair, noted that he like to see restrictions placed on the permit to require that the driver and passengers wear helmets and that the pedicab have and use brake lights, turn signals, headlights, etc. Alvarez noted that the pedicab was equipped for this, and added that he would be attending safety training in the next month and would send all of his operators as well. He indicated that he was interested in becoming a League-certified safety instructor. He added that he has talked to the Shakespeare Festival, the Hospital, and local restaurants about promoting the pedicab service as an alternative to driving and parking downtown. Young suggested that he also contact the Chamber of Commerce. Alvarez explained that pedicab service would work for tips but that the base service cost would be $10 for 15 minutes as a minimum, and that the pedicab could accommodate three adults. Voice vote: All AYES. Motion passed.
Siskiyou Boulevard Safety
Young noted his experiences on the Siskiyou Boulevard redesign committee, and suggested that the project had not resulted in safety improvements. He also indicated that he felt the recent media coverage of the traffic fatality had been skewed to place blame on pedestrians.
Warshawsky suggested that there was a need for information about exactly what had happened.
Sommer suggested that lights were needed in the crosswalks; Warshawsky noted that these have some maintenance issues.
Ryan suggested that the crossing at Bridge Street could be closed.
Severson noted that he had distributed copies of a memo from Public Works Director Jim Olson detailing staff suggestions for safety improvements which were to be presented at the next Traffic Safety Commission meeting.
Young emphasized that there was a need to act quickly, and to collaboratively involve SOU. He suggested that the Commission would work with Traffic Safety, the City, and the University to find money for long-term solutions and that in the meantime, there could be impermanent solutions, like repainting the crosswalks for improved visibility.
Church noted that speeds are also a concern, and he emphasized that speeding is an issue that is tied to design.
Warshawsky discussed the limits of engineering and the need to address education and enforcement as well.
Dubois noted that student patterns also need to be taken into account, and suggested that crosswalk visibility is less important than pedestrian visibility. He emphasized the need for pedestrian controls at crossings.
Members discussed lighting as a first step, and again emphasized the need for a quick, collaborative process.
Olney/Ryan m/s to recommend that the Traffic Safety Commission and Engineering Division implement Olson’s recommended increases in lighting wattages as a first step in improving pedestrian safety on Siskiyou. Discussion: Warshawsky noted that wattage is not as important as the heads and aiming of the lights. Members discussed where lights should be addressed; Chapman indicated that efforts needed to extend to Ashland Street as well and discussed the history of speed limit reduction requests. He explained that ODOT had previously indicated that a traffic study would be needed after completion of the redesign, which has yet to happen. He stated that he would prefer lighting upgrades on Siskiyou and out Ashland Street to the railroad crossing. Church emphasized that ODOT standards are geared toward moving traffic and result in an unfriendly environment toward pedestrians. There was discussion of mid-block crossings, median issues, and the road design in general. Members ultimately determined that it would be most effective to attend the Traffic Safety Commission meeting happening on February 28th. Motion and second were withdrawn.
Members discussed educational efforts for pedestrian safety, noting the possibility of creating a diversion program, a pedestrian safety brochure, or looking at crossing guards. It was noted that there might be a possibility of using federal work study monies to pay crossing guards. Ryan indicated he would follow-up with the University. Severson noted the use of the Safety Chicken, the previous mascot for crosswalk safety.
There was discussion of using the City Source as a means to distribute educational materials, and it was noted that there have been traffic volume increases. Members discussed focused enforcement efforts (aka stings) and it was noted by Warshawsky that these efforts need to be two-sided and recognize the pedestrians’ responsibility as well by directing focused enforcement efforts to pedestrians and bicyclists too.
Bike Swap Tabling
Olney indicated that he would be willing to table at this event. Severson noted that he would also be present and could provide some coverage assistance.
Sommer left the meeting.
Bicycle Friendly Community Status
This item was tabled until next month.
Top 10 List
Severson noted that this item had been intended to be a priority list of items to be addressed and that the Commission would monitor them to completion. He noted that Sommer had originally been the one to request it be placed on the agenda. In her absence, members suggested that it be tabled until next month.
Bus/Trolley Service for First Fridays
This item was tabled until next month.
Bike Lane Maintenance and Bike Path Maintenance
It was explained that this item was raised in to emphasize the need for removal of debris left in bike lanes after sanding and plowing during winter storms. Both Young and Warshawsky noted that family members had bicycle accidents due to debris in the bike lanes, and it was emphasized that sweeping of bike lanes should be given equal priority.
It was noted that the bike lane striping on North Main and on Tolman Creek Road at East Main are gone, and Commissioners emphasized that these need to be reviewed and reinstalled more regularly.
Members also emphasized that stop signs were in need of replacement along the Central Ashland Bike Path and that debris removal on the bike path also needed to be addressed.
On-Going Goal Discussion: Car Free Day & Car Free Living
Severson noted that with Steve Maluk’s resignation from RVTD and Seiler’s planned move out of town, the Car Free Day event was in need of champions to take the lead in planning and carrying out the event.
Dubois noted that he was working to recruit businesses to be involved in the event, and would speak to the YMCA, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, etc.
Follow Up Items: Oak Street at February 28th Traffic Safety
Severson noted that this item was on the agenda for Traffic Safety; he suggested that given the Siskiyou safety discussion and the Oak Street item, it would be a good meeting for members to consider attending.
Ryan noted that he would be there and could give the Traffic Safety Commissioners background on this item.
There was discussion of reviewing bike route maps and informational signage locations to determine what revisions are necessary.
Dubois noted that there would be a short, easy coffee ride beginning at the Plaza at 9:00 a.m. on the first Sunday of each month.
Huelz Gutcheon noted that Dan Dorrell from ODOT in White City would be willing to come to a meeting to discuss signage along Main Street.
Church noted that in his experience, signage tends to lose effectiveness as it becomes familiar and blends into the background. He noted that he’d seen communities rotate signage and use comedic messages to catch people’s attention.
Agenda Items for Next Month
Siskiyou Boulevard Safety and Oak Street follow-up, Car Free Day/Car Free First Fridays/Car Free Living, Bicycle Friendly Community Status, Top 10 List.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:06 p.m.
TSC Meeting – February 28th, 2008 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers
Regular Meeting – March 20th, 2008 at 5:15 p.m. in the Siskiyou Room