Ventura Bike Union’s Response to the Transportation Master Plan

As much as we might enjoy riding our bikes on ArtRides or are dedicated to riding for our health and the health of the planet, riding bicycles around here is not all fun and games. In order to have a safe city to ride, cyclists must support the work we’ve done in getting the needs of cyclists addressed in the Transportation Master Plan.

You can still be an important part of this process by reviewing the plan and making comments. Public forums will be held.

Next Tuesday, members of the Ventura Bike Union (including this Bikergo Gal) will meet with Tom Mericle, City Traffic Manager, to request specific improvements to the Bikeway Master Plan draft. According to VCCool’s Rachel Morris,

In a nutshell, we found lots that still needed to be added (see 1-22 below), while what was there seemed not reflective of input we’d heard and given (see A-D below).

The following information is best understood in the context and with reference to the Master Plan. Note this is not exhaustive list, but it is accurate and covers key recommendations for improvements.

Chapter 7 Additions:

1.      W/B  Main St., Seaward to Catalina, needs Class II striping. It’s directly in front of Ventura High School.

2.      A contiguous Class 3 / Class 1 bicycle route that would be a continuation of Cameron, starting at Kellogg and ending at De Anza Middle School. This would not be a motor vehicle continuation of Cameron, but a direct bicycle route going on street where possible, between homes if needed, and through storage and across open area where required, with the smallest footprint possible.

We feel the inclusion of the Cedar St. extension is a red herring that is too dangerous, expensive, and fraught with land use issues to be a real solution to the transit issues on the Westside. And we feel its inclusion will only slow the more reasonable and doable Cameron Bicycle Extension.

3.      The centrally located and complex “5 Points” area should be treated with five different bullet points including improvements for:

a.      E/B Main continuing on Main

b.      E/B Thompson to Telegraph

c.       E/B Main to Telegraph

d.      W/B Main to Thompson

e.      W/B Telegraph to Thompson

4.      We would like to a contiguous route  from the Class 1 Ventura River Bike Path to the Ocean.  As part of that project, the Highway 33 on-ramp and off-ramp at Olive needs more than a simple narrowing of the crossing. It also needs stop lights, and an attractive look and feel to connect the Avenue Community to the Beach experience.

5.      N/B  Mills – from Main St. to Telegraph, needs a Class 2 lane.

6.      S/B Telephone crossing Main continuing straight, needs a safe crossing so cyclists don’t have to get off their bicycle and walk. This is a key connector for Cyclists from the East side. Traffic merging in from E/B Main to the Right is also the danger and needs to be stopped while cyclists are attempting to get to the far right-hand lane of Telephone.

7.      S/B Telephone turning right onto W/B Main needs a safe crossing so cyclists don’t have to get off their bicycle and walk. This is a key connector for Cyclists from the East side.

8.      E/B Main, turning onto Telephone N/B by Barns and Noble needs a safe crossing so cyclists have a way to get to the left-hand turn lanes. This is a key connector for Cyclists going to the East side.

9.      A well-maintained, Class 2 bike lane that meets official guidelines for W/B and E/B travel on Main Street between Catalina and Telephone. (Note: This would include the W/B section in front of Ventura High School, but that area is such a priority that we listed it as a separate project.)

10.   All stop lights in the city need to be calibrated for cyclists. This project should begin with the light at the intersection N/B on Chrisman turning left onto  Main. This is a central connector for the important bicycle route running parallel to main through Mid-town.

11.   Both N/B and S/B Victoria need a contiguous Class 2 bicycle lane from Valentine to Loma Vista.

12.   The intersection of E/B Valentine making a left turn onto Victoria needs to be upgraded for bicycle access.

13.   The intersection of S/B Victoria making right turn onto Valentine needs to be upgraded for bicycle access.

14.   The intersection S/B Victoria and Valentine, continuing on Victoria needs to be upgraded for bicycle access.

15.   The intersection at E/B Harbor making a left turn onto Seaward needs to be upgraded for bicycle access.

16.   N/B on Seaward, beyond the Harbor/Seaward  intersection,  the 101 on/off ramps area needs to be more protective of cyclists.

17.   Traffic lights need to be added on Ventura Avenue at these intersections (since all traffic lights need to be calibrated to sense cyclists, it is clear that these lights too need to respond to bicycle traffic):

a.      Warner – where the Red Barn Grocery is.

b.      Vince – which connects the housing projects to the neighborhood.

c.       Leighton – by EP Foster Elementary School

18.   A Class 2 bike lane on Foothill, riding to East Ventura to Telegraph.  Foothill isn’t a safe ride and you have to go over the freeway to get to Telephone.  The Telegraph section past Kimball quickly becomes unsafe.

19.   The intersection going W/B on Main St. at Mills needs protection for cyclists because the 126 off ramp feeds high speed traffic into two lanes that turn right at Mills.  This crossing feels extremely dangerous to both cyclists and pedestrians.

20.   A class 2 bicycle lane on Main St., from the Mills Rd, under the 101 freeway overpass and to the Class 2 bike lane just past Fleet Ave. (Note: This is part of the contiguous E/B W/B Class 2 lanes from Telephone to Catalina. But because of its dangerous nature, we are adding it as a separate project.)

21.   Visual on-street bicycle parking downtown, for convenience with trailers and child-tows, as well as to encourage bicycle culture and reduce congestion.

22.   Cedar to Poli corner – both directions. Toward City Hall, hostility from drivers where it gets narrow. Dangerous and narrow going away from City Hall. We very much appreciate the latest efforts to improve this area connecting the Avenue to the Downtown. With this new experience, we would like to see further corrections to make this area safe and welcoming, as opposed to the current dangerous and still hostile experience.

Chapter 7 Removal, Reduction, or Relocation:

A.      We understand that this is not simply a numbers game. Some projects are larger and more expensive than others. Still, we think that having over 10% of the plan’s improvements refer to the Harmon Barranca bike path on the Eastern outskirts of town, is not the best use of limited funds and resources. Especially where core intersection are being left out.

B.      With over 277 items on the list, the task of understanding this plan in a meaningful way is daunting. This is evidenced by the reluctance for review by staff and citizens alike. We expect this will be the same experience of the City Council, leaving this critical document vulnerable and poorly understood. To help correct this problem, we request that all duplication be removed, that headers for the types of projects be clarified, (e.g. “Additional Project Recommendations” and “Additional   Point Improvements” are not descriptive and cause confusion). In addition to the Class 1,2,3 categories, ideally, we would like to see some type of organization based on location of the project, as well as occasional inclusion of more descriptive language. While clarity of documentation may seem like a frill in these tight times, we believe a disorganized plan is less likely to become a living document actually used by City Staff and others.

C.      The mention of prioritization marked by yellow highlight, without the use of yellow highlight has drawn comment and confusion. Also, in light of dwindling funds, we feel a method of prioritization is even more important now, then when we sent you a recommended 14th chapter outlining prioritization criteria. We feel the current list of Chapter 7 projects, focusing on the outskirts of town and overlooking many of the most common practical bicycling transit needs, underscores the need for such prioritization in plan.

D.      We feel the lack of projects and funding directed toward the Avenue community, is in direct conflict with the careful and extensive input the city has received over the past four years. While it may or may not be productive to ascertain why this active, cycling community received so little attention in this plan, we think it is fair to say that this deficit does not serve the community, Ventura, nor the plan’s over-arching goal to encourage bicycle use as an alternative to car use. We think it is important for this imbalance to be corrected.

The plan will be reviewed/voted on by Planning Commission Feb 15th, Parks and Recreation Feb 16th,  City Council March 21st.  Your voice can help determine this 5 year plan.  Please let Rachel know if you can speak at one or more of these hearings! We will meet before events and coach, answer questions, and strategize. So don’t feel like you’ve got to be all that and a bag of chips before you can show up. We Just Need Bicyclists!

For more about VCCool, visit www.vccool.or or call Rachel’s office (805)648-1267 or cell (805)258-9369.

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