Concord to bolster pedestrian, bike safety on Monument Blvd.

Concord to bolster pedestrian, bike safety on Monument Blvd.

Concord to bolster pedestrian, bike safety on Monument Blvd.
The $5.33 million bike safety project includes a pathway along Monument Blvd. to separate bikes.

CONCORD, CA — The city is moving forward with the design process for long-awaited improvements to address safety concerns for bicyclists and pedestrians along Monument Blvd. and within the intersections that dot the Concord corridor.

Work on the $5.33 million project, dubbed the Monument Blvd. Class 1 Path, remains on target for starting as early as 2022 after the final design is completed later this year.

A Class 1 Path is one with a shared use that has separation from a roadway, similar to the Iron Horse Trail. Key improvements are centered at the intersections of Systron Drive/Walters Way and Cowell Road/ Oakmead Drive along Monument Blvd. Plans include installing a new pathway next to the thoroughfare between these two intersections, and a connection to the BART path.

Separating bikers, pedestrians from ­motorists

Artist renderings feature bright fluorescent markings in the intersections to alert motorists of the designated pathways for pedestrians and bicyclists and a new multi-use pathway accommodating both pedestrians and bicyclists that is well separated from existing vehicular traffic traveling on Monument Blvd.

No major changes to the scope of the project will occur as the project enters the final design phase. Additional public comment will be accepted June 9, when this matter goes before the Bicycle Pedestrian and Advisory Committee (BPAC) for further discussion. Members of the public voiced support during a March 31 presentation of the design. A final community meeting is anticipated in late June or early July.

The final design is expected to be completed in October, with the project going out to bid in January or February 2022.

Intersections key to safety

The Concord project is part of the Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Safe Routes to Transit Plan, which was established in September 2016.

Kenji Yamada, a member of Bike Concord’s Advocacy Committee and an active bicyclist around Concord since 2009, was involved in this project during the initial stages five years ago. At that time, he noted there were a couple of good features that began to move closer to something Bike Concord has advocated for a long time: full mode separation. That means bicycle traffic, pedestrian traffic and motor traffic are fully separated from each other by either time or space, rather than bikes being alternately mixed with pedestrians or motor vehicles.

In the current project plan, Yamada sees the intersections as the most crucial spot for bicycle and pedestrian safety, and he says separation from the motor traffic and from each other is most needed there. With the emphasis on a Class 1 Path, a shared use and not separation among users is the focus.

Safety for bicyclists and pedestrians

For Yamada, separation between bicycle and pedestrian traffic is important not so much for the sake of bicyclists, but for the safety and comfort of pedestrians – including people in wheelchairs, with small children and dogs.

“I think it’s a good step, although a relatively small step compared to what’s needed,” he said, calling this project “a welcome contribution.”

“Over the last six or seven years, we have been sometimes appreciative of and sometimes disappointed in staff’s efforts to deliver serious bicycle infrastructure,” Yamada continued. “As in nearly all American cities and towns, it’s an enterprise in which mediocrity is frequently passed off as excellence.”

Another welcome improvement with this project is limiting unfettered right turns by motor traffic at the intersections. Design improvements will allow more time and increase safety for pedestrians and bicyclists as they move through these corridors.

The city applied for a One Bay Area Grant (OBAG 2) in December 2016 and was awarded $4.37 million in federal funding for design and construction. However, funding was not available until the 2020 federal fiscal year.