Thursday, December 20, 2012

A few brief comments on the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail (MBSST) Network Draft Master Plan

Here are a few brief comments on the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail (MBSST) Network Draft Master Plan.

Yes, please use engineering design standards for the rail trail.

I agree with policy objective 1.2, "Make the trail functional as a transportation facility" in section 2. And I specifically agree with policy objective 1.2.3, "Construct the trail according to Caltrans bikeway standards as described in the Caltrans Highway Design Manual, Chapter 1000, Bikeway Planning and Design and other standards manuals."  There's really no point on spending tens of millions of dollars on a bicycle facility that isn't useful for cycling on or cannot meet minimum engineering standards.

Beware of substandard existing facilities.

a good place for a walk

It is not clear from figures 5-23 and 5-24 in section 5 or from the photos on pages 4-40 and 4-36 in section 4 if the new sidewalk next to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary building will be incorporated into the rail trail.  The MBNMS sidewalk is only 6 feet wide.  There is no clearance between one side of the sidewalk and a fence. And on the other side of the sidewalk, there in only one foot of clearance between the fence and the sidewalk.   If this sidewalk is used in the rail trail, the sidewalk will need to be widened and the fences moved in order for the rail trail to be compliant with Caltans standards for two-way bike paths.  Or the rail trail will need to bypass this sidewalk.

The Beach Street roundabout.

riding the sedgeway

The proposed configuration of the Beach Street roundabout and the rail trail seems particularly problematic in figure 5-24.  The roundabout configuration is different than the previously proposed roundabout designs by the City of Santa Cruz.  In previous proposals, the bicycle traffic was more separated from pedestrian traffic.  In the previous design, northbound cyclists coming from the Boardwalk approach the roundabout and could enter the roundabout in the place where vehicle traffic coming from the Wharf enters traffic.  In this proposed rail trail design, approaching and entering the roundabout in an integrated way with the rest of traffic from the northbound rail trail is no longer a choice for cyclists. 

Also, southbound rail trail cyclists approaching the Beach Street roundabout from the MBNMS building are riding to the right side of a right-turn lane (the right turn from Pacific onto Beach, up the hill). This configuration will likely result in "right-hook" bike-car collisions.

It would be nice to see bicycle traffic and the rest of the vehicle traffic integrated at the Beach Street roundabout like it is at the nearby Depot Park roundabout at Pacific and Center. However, this isn't a goal for the rail trail design, I hope that (literal) barriers are not placed in front of cyclists who choose to use the street.  Do not place bicycle-killing speed-bumps or speed-tables at the bottom of the downhill at Beach Street.

 Avoid flooding at Nearly Lagoon

can you get there from here?

There is no mention of the elevation of the rail trail near Neary Lagoon on page E-5.  The rail is elevated above where the lagoon likely floods during winter.  The rail trail should also be elevated to the level of the rail to avoid flooding of the rail trail during winter.

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