Greenway’s County Transportation Position
Greenway encourages the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commision (RTC) to focus on the fastest, most realistic ways to achieve the stated Unified Corridor Investment Study (UCIS) goal to “develop a sustainable transportation system which seeks to maximize benefits in terms of the natural environment, economic vitality, health and equity.” Our community needs alternatives to gridlock that can be implemented in the near term. If implementing these solutions as “interim” projects helps to build public support, this may be the best way to proceed.
PRIORITY 1: ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION
Santa Cruz County Greenway is advocating to transform Santa Cruz County into a world-class active transportation community by creating a spectacular greenway as the backbone of a safe, scenic, and equitable active transportation network. The most progressive communities in the U.S. and world are prioritizing active transportation because it’s healthy, affordable, effective and socially and environmentally sound. We believe bicycle and e-bike commuting will become even more popular as soon as a connected network of protected infrastructure is in place.
Greenway on the Rail Corridor
To encourage a growing population of bicycle and e-bike commuters, we need to build a greenway with adequate width and safe separation of wheeled and pedestrian traffic.
Although the legal boundaries may be quite wide in some areas, the majority of the corridor does not have the physical width to accommodate an effective active transportation path next to a large-scale transit option.
We support implementing environmentally-sensitive, fiscally-prudent solutions prior to major infrastructure expenditures that may prove unnecessary in the long run. To that end, we are advocating to build the widest trail possible using existing bridges and avoiding mass tree-removal and major excavating/retaining wall projects.
Active transportation (including bicycles, e-bikes, skateboards, e-boards, and other bicycle class vehicles with speed limits legal for CA Class 1 bike lanes) must be given priority on the corridor.
For maximum safety through the Central Reach, the preferred trail would be 26’ wide allowing for 2’ shoulders on both sides (7’ foot for each direction of wheeled traffic, a 2’ divider, and a separate 6’ walkway for pedestrian traffic). The less commute-intensive parts of the trail in the North and South can have a reduced width, but the standard above should be applied where possible to increase active transportation use.
We are open to the possibility of small-scale evolving transit options on the corridor if they can be implemented without compromising the safety and effectiveness of this active transportation route.
The RTC should prioritize completing #2 above within 4 years (2022) to offer an alternative to Hwy 1 and surface street gridlock prior to the onset of auxiliary lane construction on Highway 1.
Countywide Protected Bicycle and Pedestrian Network
To encourage a growing population of bicycle and e-bike commuters, we advocate installing protected routes to enable users to get from the Greenway to our major employers, schools, and other popular destinations.
The existing San Lorenzo River, Chanticleer, Mar Vista, and Watsonville Slough paths are the beginnings of this network. Greenway will be the spine connecting these and new routes.
Painted demarcations may increase safety for the current biking population but they do not provide protection from distracted drivers and they will not encourage the people who would like to cycle but do not currently feel safe to choose bicycle commuting.
Once the RTC determines that the best use of the corridor is an option other than rail transit, we advocate reallocating the estimated $40 million “rail study and repair” Measure D funds to build this network.
PRIORITY 2: IMPROVED TRANSIT
We are pro transit and support modernizing our already-funded METRO bus system to function as a more effective transit option for everyone in the county. We support the bus improvements being studied in the UCIS and would like to see increased frequency, a dedicated lane, and/or BRT light implemented on Soquel Ave/Freedom Blvd.
If Bus on Shoulder studies scheduled for completion in 2018 prove viable, we support its implementation prior to auxiliary lane construction.
We support the METRO investments in bus system modernization including geolocation, green technology improvements, and enhancing predictability and reliability wherever possible.
Once bus service is made more predictable and reliable, we advocate a major employer outreach campaign to provide incentives for bus ridership as well as new low pricing for bus passes for Santa Cruz County residents.
When the protected bicycle network is complete, bike share stations should be available at popular bus stops and destinations for improved last mile service.
PRIORITY 3: REDUCE GRIDLOCK ON HIGHWAY 1 AND OTHER ROUTES
Since traffic congestion is nonlinear, building Greenway, a countywide protected bike and pedestrian network, and modernizing our METRO bus system, may be enough to reduce gridlock or at the very least offer an alternative as auxiliary lane construction begins.
Greenway recognizes more than 50% of commute trips and 75% of shopping trips are 5 miles or less. Converting these trips to active transportation provides an opportunity to relieve congestion on surface streets and Highway 1.
We support implementing the above options as fast “interim” solutions and conducting quantitative assessments of their effects on traffic prior to the onset of highway construction.
PRIORITY 4: VISION ZERO
Greenway is committed to making Santa Cruz County (consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous places to ride a bike in California) safer for all who ride bicycles and walk.
To that end, we support the Community Traffic Safety Coalition’s goal to have the county adopt Vision Zero:
People make mistakes and poor choices; Vision Zero says those mistakes don't have to cost lives. Working together, we can eliminate deaths and serious injuries on our streets. The CTSC focused on Vision Zero for their 2016-2018 work plan, committing to making Santa Cruz County safer for all road users.
[Read the CTSC’s 2017 report, The Impact of Traffic Violence On Santa Cruz County.]
CALIFORNIA STATE RAIL PLAN
We support the parts of the California State Rail Plan that are realistic and actually move people safely, affordably, and equitably. As such, we welcome the activation of Pajaro Station with connecting METRO bus service from Santa Cruz. Pajaro Station will provide our community rail connectivity to Silicon Valley, future high speed rail, and other major destinations along the rail network.