Pilot Projects Give Communities a Preview of Changes
Testing safety strategies in Citrus Heights and Sacramento

Nathan Morales, left, and Bethany Morales practice their bike riding skills in the safety of a temporary bike lane on Old Auburn Rd. In Citrus Heights.

October 29, 2019: Two recent road demonstration tests showed the value of doing a pilot project before making big changes to a road. 

In Citrus Heights major thoroughfare Old Auburn Road is getting a Complete Streets makeover. The community got a nine-day preview that was launched with a Community Safety Fair on October 19. People could ride in a temporary bike lane created for the pilot as well as attend a pedestrian safety class, and some family fun activities drew a steady stream of visitors. 

Leslie Blomquist, a civil engineer for the City of Citrus Heights, said a major goal of the planned Complete Streets work was to improve pedestrian and bike safety and improve access from side streets. She said the feedback from attendees about the bike lane was positive. 

Old Auburn Road provides direct access to two schools and numerous commercial centers, giving it the potential to generate a significant amount of foot and bicycle traffic. However, a 2-mile stretch of the road faces challenging transportation conditions including excessive speeds, inadequate bicycle, pedestrian, and transit infrastructure, and a history of collisions. Data from 2013-2017 shows 78 fatal or injury accidents on that 2-mile stretch.  

One of the City’s engineering technicians at the Safety Fair was Freida Morales, who had brought along her children Nathan, 12, and Bethany, 9. She said they had been lobbying her to let them ride to school but that she did not feel confident in their abilities to ride in traffic. The temporary bike lane was a chance for her children to “get the basics down before I let them ride,” she said.   

Another temporary change being piloted was to eliminate one of the two left turn lanes from Fair Oaks Blvd onto Old Auburn Road. Blomquist said the turn was sharper than 90 degrees and many drivers who turned left from the inside lane then had to quickly merge to the right to make the right onto Antelope Road, which leads to I-80. The temporary realignment was a chance for her to use remote cameras to monitor if traffic on Fair Oaks Blvd was backing up with just one left turn lane, as well as to monitor driver behavior. 

A few weeks before the Citrus Heights pilot project, the City of Sacramento tested a partial road closure of 2nd Avenue between 34th Street and Broadway for four days. That section is the most dangerous of the Broadway corridor and the streets that form the triangle of 2nd Ave., 34th St. and Broadway are part of the High Injury Network identified in the Vision Zero Action Plan. The High Injury Network is comprised of the corridors throughout the city with the highest levels of fatal and serious crashes for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists. 

A review of the collisions at this location revealed that 60 percent of the collisions involved a vehicle traveling east on 2nd Ave. and a vehicle traveling north on 34th St. Based on a review of collision data, traffic analysis, community outreach, and review of best practices, the Department of Public Works is considering closing this portion of 2nd Avenue to vehicle traffic as a near-term solution prior to implementing additional long-term enhancements. The Envision Broadway in Oak Park project will result in corridor wide recommendations for safety and mobility improvements in the long term. 

The City of Sacramento received a TDM Mini Grant from Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) to demonstrate the closure for a short period of time, study the impact, and collect feedback. 

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