Transportation CommitteeCouncil Present:
August 13, 2010
Chair, Jason Hearn, Cynthia Pratt, Ron Lawson
Greg Cuoio, Rick Walk, Scott Spence, Roger Schoessel, Martin Hoppe, Carol Litten, Dusty Pierpoint, Scott Egger
Kathy McCormick, TRPC Senior Planner, Erin Scheel, Intercity Transit Councilmember Pratt moved to amend the agenda to add Pedestrian Safety at Traffic Signals. Councilmember Lawson seconded. Motion carried. Healthy Kids – Safe Streets Action Plan
Kathy McCormick, Thurston Regional Planning Council Senior Planner, presented the Healthy Kids – Safe Streets Action Plan, which was funded by grant money from the Department of Health and Washington State Department of Transportation. In an effort to encourage students, who live within a half mile of school, to walk and bike to school, Thurston Regional Planning Council (TRPC) and Intercity Transit (IT) have partnered to create this program.
There are two elements of the program:
- Walk and Roll, a school based incentive program with the goal of demonstrating the most effective way to build and sustain a partnerships that will result in more students walking, cycling or taking the bus to school. Erin Scheel, Intercity Transit Youth Education Specialist, coordinates this program, which includes Walking & Wheeling Wednesdays.
- Healthy Kids—Safe Streets Action Plan, the result of regional policy makers and stakeholder discussions to identify how to sustain and expand programs to additional schools and how to overcome identified barriers to more walking and cycling to school.
Kathy noted that City staff (Ryan Andrews, Rick Walk, Martin Hoppe) and Deputy Mayor Clarkson participated in drafting the Healthy Kids—Safe Streets Action Plan by attending a forum in the fall of 2009, a series of meetings to draft the plan, and a presentation of the plan this past spring.
For local jurisdictions, the plan will provide guidance to comprehensive plans including land use and transportation plans. The land use element will be guided by the Safe Streets plan by providing guidance for school siting activities, neighborhood connectivity recommendations, and community outreach policies. The Safe Streets plan provides recommendations that may affect the transportation element include those relating to infrastructure improvements (sidewalks, bike lanes, lighting, etc.), separation of arrival points at schools (i.e. separation of walk and bike as well as bus entries from vehicular entries), and tracking of vehicles around schools.
Kathy stated in order to move the plan forward, three elements are needed:
- Liaisons to assist with drafting policies and plans to be incorporated into school and city planning processes. At the August Land Use Committee meeting, members approved Deputy Mayor Clarkson and Ryan Andrews, Assistant Planner, to serve as the City’s representatives during the implementation phase of the Healthy Kids—Safe Streets Action Plan.
- Developing partnerships to apply for additional grant funding.
- Developing business partnerships to provide incentives to encourage youth participation in the program.
Issues that were discussed included parent concerns about traffic safety and stranger danger, siting of new schools in areas with density to encourage busing, pedestrian safety at entrances/exits to schools, redesigning parking lots to improve pedestrian safety, upgrading infrastructure design standards to include sidewalks, bike lanes and median crossings; creating pedestrian links to trails, creating walking corridors with less traffic volume, public education to promote pedestrian and biking safety, creating partnerships with service organizations to adopt-a-school, and program costs estimated at $8,000 per school.
Kathy remarked a new Pace Car and Anti-Idling pledge program to slow driving speeds and promote clean air has been initiated, proving popular. Motorists place Pace Car bumper stickers on their cars to encourage drivers behind them to slow down. She added that education and developing public safety skills are key to the success of this program.
Rick Walk, Community Development Director, reported the Planning Commission is reviewing the Safe Streets Action Plan to incorporate elements into the City’s comprehensive plan. The City is also working closely with the North Thurston Public School District to collaborate on where to site new facilities on school property. Pedestrian Safety at Traffic Signals
Martin Hoppe, Transportation Manager, briefed the committee on pedestrian safety at traffic signals. He noted that Councilmember Pratt had raised a concern about a recent pedestrian crossing accident at 54th Avenue and Ruddell Road.
Martin provided background information on the concept of signal timing. Fixed timing maintains the signals at the same coordinated time. Actuated signals detect the traffic volume and direction of traffic which allows flexibility to fluctuate the timing based on certain parameters. The traffic signal at 54th and Ruddell is a fully actuated signal.
Martin explained the average timing of pedestrian signals:
7 seconds – walk (white walking man)
15 seconds of walk clearance (flashing orange)
3 seconds of yellow time (steady orange)
1 second of all red (steady orange)
26 seconds of minimum phase time
Martin noted that someone crossing Ruddell Road at a normal or slower pace would have adequate time to cross in 26 seconds. He stated that the accident involving this pedestrian at 54th and Ruddell was not related to signal timing, but rather driver error. Martin noted that the City complies with the model traffic code which sets the standards for pedestrian crossing times.
Martin reported the City collaborated with the Capital Coalition of Blind People to identify intersections in the City to implement audible signals. He added that as new roads are built, more audible signals will be included.
Martin stated that staff is proposing replacing the permissive green left turn signal with a flashing permissive yellow signal, which should reduce accidents.