Fremont, Oak and Park streets are getting a makeover thanks to the new Downtown East-West Connection Project, which was recently approved by the Stockton City Council.
These streets will also see myriad other improvements, including installations of speed cushions, rectangular rapid flashing beacons, crosswalks, improved signal timing and new signage, according to Council agenda documents: City Council/Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency/Public Financing Authority/Parking Authority Concurrent (granicus.com)
“I’m excited to see the bike lanes,” said Councilmember Dan Wright.
Stockton councilmembers voted 6-0, with Councilmember Kimberly Warmsley absent, to approve plans to refurbish streets between Pershing Avenue and Wilson Way. The project is funded by the state through the Active Transportation Program (ATP) Cycle 5 Program, which awarded Stockton a nearly $1.8 million grant in 2020 for the connection street project renovations.
However, some councilmembers voiced during the meeting concerns regarding the safety of the community.
“I’m a bike rider, I enjoy bike-riding, biking is a form of transportation,” Councilmember Michele Padilla said during the meeting. “We have excessive speeding and I just feel that it could be potentially prone for accidents.” Noting how the streets are constantly congested with speeding and parked vehicles.
While this project includes space for bicyclists, a decrease from two lanes to one may be needed to ensure the safety of those traveling according to Councilmember Dan Wright.
“I worked for SUSD for a number of years and I drove Park Street every day on my way to work, and it really did get to be a freeway at some points during the day,” Wright said. “We need some more of a physical barrier there other than just painted on lines, you know, to encourage people not to kill our bicycle riders.”
Public Works Director Jodi Almassy, who presented the upcoming project to Council at its Feb. 7 meeting, said that all these concerns can be brought with the California Transportation Commissions, which is in charge of the project.
“It’s a combination of our traffic engineering, combined with public outreach to find the best solution that’s gonna fit those roadways and our users,” said Almassy, explaining how the width of the roadway and limited real estate could be a factor when redesigning the roadway.
With the help of the public, Public Works is going to be figuring out the design process and construction drawings after getting approval from Councilmembers according to Almassy during the meeting.
“Whatever we can do to slow people down on Park and Oak,” said Wright.
The downtown East-West Connection Project is expected to have finalized plans for manufacturing in the fall of 2024.
Since the approval of the project, the next phase is designing according to Almassy.
I commuted by bicycle for over a dozen years in Stockton. Painted lines do not make a bike lane safe. Many motorists show little to no concern for cyclists (and pedestrians). Give less of the real estate that is available to motorists passing through and more to people who actually live in the houses on these streets (e.g., more green space between the sidewalk and street) and to bike lanes that have a physical barrier between them and the street/parked cars. It is so much better to design streets that require motorists to slow down (e.g., narrower lanes and roundabouts) for their own safety since speed limits are easily ignored and rarely enforced. One cannot rely on good will. A lot of these ideas are discussed in Chris and Melissa Bruntlett’s book “Curbing Traffic.” (https://islandpress.org/books/curbing-traffic)
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