Would you ride your bike on the streets of Redding if you felt they were safe?
Would you ride your bike more often if you felt safer riding on local bike lanes and bikeways?
If you are inclined to say “yes,” then you are not alone.
According to a study commissioned by People for Bikes, fifty-four percent of adults in the U.S. perceive bicycling as a convenient way to get from one place to another and 53% would like to ride more often. However, 52% worry about being hit by a car and 46% say they would be more likely to ride a bicycle if motor vehicles and bicycles were physically separated.
One-third of people who want to bike more are dissatisfied with the current infrastructure.
For those of us that do ride out on the streets of Redding, whether by choice or not, we see why more people don’t bike. We may think to ourselves while we ride, "Why does the bike lane end here?" “'Why hasn’t this been fixed?” “This bike lane feels really uncomfortable.” “The speeds on this road are just too fast.” You may have even held up this sign:
Talking to the many people who ride bikes in Redding, the themes I hear are that people generally feel unsafe. Many want bigger bike lanes, protected bike lanes, consistency in the network and better trail access. These there are the same themes for people who walk or who might walk more. We need complete sidewalks on both sides of the road and safe crossings for people that walk, especially children, elderly and those with disabilities.
We may know this for ourselves first hand, perhaps we ride a little less, walk a little less in our neighborhoods or pick different routes because of a lack of bike lanes and sidewalks while feeling unsafe or uncomfortable in the ones we do have.
We need to be building our streets for people of all ages and abilities, for the people who would walk or ride a bike if they felt safe and comfortable to do so.
We need to build safe streets for the many do walk and bike every day; because they have no choice, and cannot depend on transit to get them there since the bus system is limited in service hours and frequency, or in the cases that walking is guaranteed to get them there faster than waiting for the bus. They must walk and bike every day on broken sidewalks, ride on asphalt edges or hop on to driveway laden sidewalks to avoid speeding cars.
To begin to address these issues, we are missing a critical piece to that puzzle.
That fundamental cornerstone, the crux of the City of Redding’s ability to progress, is at the very least, a single full-time staff person with a focus on getting the human-scaled details of roadway construction and maintenance projects right, work with the community, identify priorities, plan for the future and get the cash to do it.
Communities that fully commit themselves to supporting and acting on complete streets for all ages and abilities are staffed to plan, scope projects, review plans, work with the engineers, engage with community members and track down the money to get it done, if not a small team.
Currently, the City technically has a staff person with a "transportation planner" title but in reality, they are a transit planner. This position with the City dedicated to delivering transit for the Redding Area Bus Authority (RABA) on behalf of the City of Redding, City of Anderson, City of Shasta Lake and Shasta County. RABA is something we need to actively support as a community, and it is also severely understaffed, underfunded to meet community needs and desires as well, but that is for another conversation.
To promote all modes of transportation, the City needs at least one full-time municipal transportation planner focusing on active transportation issues within the city of Redding. We find it self-evident that it is critical to dedicate staff to focus on project planning, funding, review, and delivery of roadway projects that provide safe and attractive streets that are welcoming and comfortable for people of all ages and abilities regardless of how we choose to move through our public spaces.
There is so much we could get done if we just had a small team or even just one full-time skilled and experienced staff person dedicated to walking and biking infrastructure, issues and getting the human-scaled the details of projects right, like every other bike friendly community.
Guidelines from the League of American Bicyclists' Bicycle Friendly Communities call for a Bronze Level community to have an average of one “Bike Staff Person” for every 77k residents. The City of Redding was awarded a bronze certification in the last application cycle, five years ago. Technically, according to the League the City of Redding should have 1.2 dedicated staff dedicated to bicycling infrastructure, issues, safety, and programs to at least maintain the minimum level of quality. To climb to Gold status, there would be three staff, implementing the bike plan, engaging citizens and getting results. Currently, we do not have a dedicated staff person.
Driving a vehicle in Redding should be an option, not a necessity.
In 2015 AAA reported that the annual cost to own and operate an average sedan 15,000 miles in a year will cost about $8,698, or 58 cents a mile.
In Redding, the median household income is $43,700 per year. The U.S. Census 2010-2013 American Community Survey reported households in Redding to have 1.7 vehicles on average. If you are one of those median income households and own two vehicles so that family members can go to work and school, after paying for the car, there is only $26,000, or about $2,150/mo left to pay rent, utility bills, food, and clothing for all. In addition, 18.7% of Redding residents live at or below the poverty level. Yikes.
A car-light household that reduces ownership by one car,
would save a family $8,700 on vehicle costs every year.
Despite the lack of frequent bus service and complete network of safe and attractive places to walk and bike, a stunning 8% of Redding households, opt to go without vehicles, check out Government's interactive map.
In other words, one in every 12 households in Redding do not have a vehicle.
People in Redding need access to affordable transportation options, and we should have the freedom to make the choice to safely; walk, bike or take the bus for our transportation needs, for our wallets and our health. By providing these options, our community will only become more resilient.
Redding has more than 400 miles of roadway to maintain, quite a lot for a community of our population. It’s quite a stress on our budget. Many of these roads lack complete sidewalks and bike lanes, and many that do have them seem inadequate for many of us. We can optimize these roads, by providing space and comfort for people who walk and bike, while increasing safety for all. We can save money as a community by reducing our long-term roadway maintenance commitment while optimizing our roads for all people.
We need to leverage grant funded opportunities to help us retrofit our roads.
Using these multi-million grants we can stretch our local dollars, and get projects done, that never would get done otherwise. We need staff that understand local issues and match with grant priorities.
These bigger, longer-term capital projects that will need to be shepherd through the planning, community engagement, and design process to get those human-scaled details right, using up-to-date guides, manuals and bring in expertise as needed to make sure our investments make the biggest impact possible. For some real examples, in various stages of design, some will go to construction very soon. The following projects are supported with grant funding and will be hitting the ground over the next four years (in no particular order) including:
- Placer Street from the county line to Pleasant Street sidewalks, crossings and buffered bike lanes
- Diestelhorst to Downtown, connecting people on foot and bike from the River Trail to the downtown grid
- Quartz Hill Road sidewalk, uphill bike lanes, and crossings at Caldwell Park
- Churn Creek Road widening and buffered bike lanes
- South Victor bikeway trail, bike lanes, crossings and traffic circles
- Hartnell Avenue buffered bike lanes, sidewalk infill, and mid-block crossings from Churn Creek to Victor
Several of these projects were funded with your support, as you might recognize some of these. Now we need to be sure they are implemented with the most benefit for all people that travel on our streets whether you drive, walk, or bike.
In addition to big, slower moving capital roadway projects, every year we have opportunities with road maintenance projects to re-stripe bigger bike lanes. Though, without master planning and the valuable resource of staff time dedicated to the cause, we are missing grand opportunities and often the improvements may be piecemeal and possibly opportunities to add bike lanes may slip by.