Project lacks safe routes to schools

By Christal Waters

Regarding Sunday’s story, “What would The Cannery do to traffic?,” if one did not read the article and note the small print on the accompanying graphic‘s source (Page A8), one could be misled on the current project design.

Noted in small print, the graphic shows the bike paths proposed by the adjacent landowner, North Davis Land Company. To my knowledge, the developer currently is not planning to implement any of these.

The article correctly describes what the developer is proposing to do. That is far less than what is shown in the graphic and is inconsistent with the city’s policy to further boost active transportation.

Of particular concern is the developer-proposed separated bike path not shown on the graphic but described in the article and draft EIR. That bike path design proceeds from the southwest corner of the project, heads south under the Covell Boulevard overpass, then makes a 90-degree turns and heads east along the boulevard right-of-way to a point where it is at grade with the bike path on the south side of the Covell Boulevard overpass, then makes a hairpin turn to connect with that path.

In the first place, I don’t see how the design is feasible without either digging into the overpass embankment or taking out an outside stairway in the Cranbrook Court apartment complex. More importantly, this route is a highly discouraging uphill struggle for kids who would attend North Davis Elementary and Davis High School on 14th Street, and three other elementary schools and one junior high school farther west.

The city is trying to increase safe bicycling and walking to school and this route simply does not contribute to that goal.

Some students also may attend Birch Lane and Korematsu Elementary schools, and Holmes and Harper junior high schools. The project design as proposed does not attempt to provide a safe route to school crossing Covell Boulevard and J Street for those students. Peak-hour morning traffic on J Street is projected to increase by 50 percent, making the Drexel Drive/J Street intersection more difficult to navigate safely, even with the city’s proposed improvements there.

I recognize that the railroad tracks pose a circulation problem for the development and I want the project to succeed in bringing new housing to the city. However, the developer needs to go back to the drawing board.

The “proposed bike paths” identified in the article’s graphics are collectively an example of how to mitigate the bicycling and pedestrian problems posed by the railroad tracks. The developer’s design is not. The city should not approve a design that does not provide safe routes to schools for its walking and bicycling students.

— Christal Waters is a Davis resident and a member of Davis Bicycles! and its school committee. Davis Bicycles! has not taken a position on the value of the project.

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