Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bike Transit Team Identifies Safety Improvements

Represented by a logo showing the progression of humanity from ape to modern human to cyclist, a trio of UCSC students have created a proposal for the City of Santa Cruz that identifies high priority resolutions to unsafe bicycling areas on the west side of Santa Cruz.

To promote bicycle riding in the city of Santa Cruz and reduce carbon emissions, the City of Santa Cruz Climate Action plan includes promotion of biking as an alternative mode of transportation. To help City of Santa Cruz meet the needs of current and future cyclists in Santa Cruz, an isolated study of transit to and from the University of California Santa Cruz has been conducted by the Impact Designs: Engineering & Sustainability through Student Service (IDEASS) Bicycle Transit Planning Team (BTPT).

Brenden Fant (Environmental Studies '13), Austin Seller (Environmental Studies and Biology '13), and Anthony Siao (Environmental Studies and Technology Information Management '14) worked on the project with Ross Clark, the City of Santa Cruz Climate Change Action Manager. The team compiled data from three sources and used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to construct maps outlining frequently used roads, road quality, and cycling collision locations in order to "increase the level of safety for cyclists in high traffic corridors," said Fant.

The BTPT accumulated data through a survey regarding the most utilized streets during transit, which was taken by nearly 450 students, staff, faculty, and community members. The team then quality tested these roads with a Bike Environmental Quality Index (BEQI) developed by the San Francisco Department of Public Health that surveyed the safety and usability of roadways for cycling, which included assessing such factors as the speed of vehicle traffic next to the bike lane, the width of the bike lane, if there is parallel parking adjacent to the bike lane, the quality of the pavement surface, traffic calming features (street signs reminding drivers and cyclists that bikes may take the lane, sharrows, etc.), bike parking, and other factors.

"One of our biggest accomplishments in this project was completing the BEQI for sixteen routes," Fant said. "It was a combination of going and riding roads and taking notes to document conditions for each block and looking at Google Maps to confirm conditions we might have missed." In addition to the GIS mapping,  this was one of the most time consuming aspects of the project.

Finally, they combined this data with the cycling and motorist-related collision report data from the City of Santa Cruz over the past 10 years. "We wanted to really focus on accessibility for all of the people of Santa Cruz to ride bikes and feel safe doing so," said Seller. "Hopefully many of them will become bike commuters as a result."

The BTPT presents their findings and an overview of their project at the Fifth Annual UC Santa Cruz Sustainability End of the Year Celebration on May 21.

Using the combined results mapped by GIS (click here to view the maps), the team has identified priority areas for improvements.This prioritization, which features suggestions such as adding more lighting to Bay Street, improving King Street as a bicycle boulevard, intersection improvements on Laurel Street, and more. To read their full report, click here.

They presented to the Santa Cruz City Council on May 28 to provide recommendations that can help the City achieve their biking and carbon emission plans by 2020. To watch their presentation and hear feedback and support from the City Council members, click here. They are also in touch with People Power to discuss how to move ahead with this project and implement the recommended changes.

If the evolution of humanity leads to everyone cycling, then this project is helping to bring us into the future by "providing safer and more accessible roads for students so they can feel more confident about riding their bikes," said Siao.

If you have questions or comments for the team, leave a comment below or email Brenden Fant.

To learn more about the IDEASS program and apply for next year, visit the website. Interested in learning about another IDEASS project from this year? Click here to read about a project that's reusing cooking grease for fuel on the Santa Cruz Wharf.


Tom Brady said...

Yes! Fix King St! I avoid it because it is a mess. I'd rather take my chances on Mission than try and navigate the damaged concrete on King. But if that street was actually ridable pavement, it would be perfect.

Tom Brady

Grease Traps said...

That much congestion in a pipe can definitely be avoided if a grease trap is fully pumped and jetted

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