Published October 19th, 2016
Planning Commision Gets Walk-Bike Plan Rolling
By Sophie Braccini
The Moraga Walk-Bike Plan has been completed after 18 months of public outreach and study.
The plan lists improvement projects and actions to develop ease and safety for walkers and bikers in town. The planning commission supports the 15-year plan that has been established with a lot of public input, but the commissioners made sure in their approved language to note that this plan is mostly, inspirational, since it does not include a traffic study, a cost analysis, or other impact studies. As the planning director puts it, it is a signal that the town wants to go in the direction of more pedestrian and bicycle use.
The Moraga Walk-Bike plan proposes measures for pedestrians and bikers: to fill sidewalk gaps on the arterials, to make 17 intersections safer to cross near schools or shopping centers for pedestrians, to create on-street bike lanes and routes (stencils on all vehicles lanes), to improve intersections for bicycles and to increase bike parking. The plan outlines implementation over the next 15 years, with an annual budget of $230,000. It is the product of several outreaches, study sessions, surveys and committee work; the report includes over 100 pages of public comments.
The plan was reviewed on October 3 by the planning commission. Commissioner Kymberleigh Korpus started the discussion by wondering whether the plan was just purely inspirational, or a binding statement of goals. She said that she would not want to tie future planners' hands since in her opinion several aspects were missing in the study. Commission Chair Steve Woehleke agreed that a traffic study would be necessary, and that making intersections safer, for example, could have an impact on traffic.
Associate planner Coleman Frick explained that the measures would not remove any traffic lane, would make circulation safer for all users and was not designed to slow down traffic. But Korpus, citing a recent experience in San Francisco, commented that bicycles in very large numbers can become a problem for the flow of traffic. Planning director Ellen Clark added that this was a high-level plan and that all these projects would require additional review before completion.
The commissioners also indicated that a cost-benefit analysis would be necessary before deciding on these projects. They regretted that priorities to develop these units of work had not been proposed.
The town does not have the capital resources to maintain its current assets, so funding for the new projects will have to be found elsewhere. The consultant who worked on this plan, Nico Letunic, listed possible grant sources in the report. He said that several of the projects just needed restriping and would not be too onerous. The consultant also noted that several measures desired by residents had not made it into the plan because of their high cost. Included were such demands as sidewalks on Larch Avenue or Bollinger Canyon Road, or streetlights.
The commissioners finally approved the plan, but added a supplemental condition: that the implementation of the proposed bicycle and pedestrian improvements be subjected to future considerations of funding priorities, environmental constraints, safety, traffic, parking, etc.
The town council is tentatively scheduled to consider the plan at its October 26 meeting.

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