Traffic safety was the primary concern expressed at a Monday study session on potential improvements to a citywide transportation plan aimed at increasing mobility in Redwood City.
The draft of the plan, called “RWCmoves,” has been in the works since 2016, and was officially released last November for community input. City Manager Melissa Stevenson Diaz said staff conducted substantial analysis, data gathering and community engagement to formulate the draft, the final version of which is slated for the spring.
The plan includes an analysis of existing commute patterns and an extensive and varied list of more than 120 projects such as railroad track grade separations facilitating passage through the city and crosswalk improvements to encourage pedestrian activity and lessen reliance on cars, said Jessica Manzi, the city’s senior transportation coordinator.
Manzi said the plan was initially conceived as a tool to help combat the increase in traffic and congestion that came with a booming economy.
“A big part of this story is what’s going on in the region,” Manzi said. “The whole Bay Area economy is booming, the number of jobs is increasing, the number of people not working is dropping, the population is growing throughout the region and, frankly, housing production isn’t keeping pace so the result is often that people are living farther and farther away and are having to drive longer to get to work and one result of that is increased congestion.”
The draft of the plan elicited praise at the meeting from the public and councilmembers alike, but nearly everyone who spoke expressed concern that it doesn’t adequately address the issue of safety.
To that end, both councilmembers and members of the public called for the plan to include Vision Zero, a strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, adopted by cities around the world. In San Mateo County, Daly City and San Mateo have passed Vision Zero resolutions.
“I truly believe the citywide transportation plan wouldn’t be complete without Vision Zero,” said Jason Galisatus, who is the vice chair of the Complete Streets Advisory Committee.
Galisatus said Redwood City ranks 11th worst in overall traffic safety in cities of a similar size throughout California, citing a report published by the California Office of Traffic Safety.
Several other speakers echoed Galisatus’ concern during the public comment period.
Councilwoman Alicia Aguirre said safety is her number one concern and Vision Zero shouldn’t simply be added to the existing list of goals in the plan, but should be the plan’s central, overarching goal.
Other councilmembers, including Diane Howard, John Seybert and Shelly Masur, seemed to agree.
There was also some concern among councilmembers Jeff Gee and John Seybert about the role of the plan in years to come.
“Maybe there’s a chapter in the final report that talks about the process of how to keep this document fresh, live and relevant because change is here and it’s just going to accelerate,” Gee said in reference to technological innovations, including self-driving cars.
“The plan should be forward thinking and not just a stake in the ground of where we are today,” he said.
In other business, the council voted at the meeting to officially send a letter to SamTrans requesting an active role in the decision-making process with respect to transportation changes the transit agency is proposing in the Dumbarton Corridor. The letter also requests SamTrans fund a variety of studies on any impacts its Dumbarton Corridor plans may have on Redwood City.
“SamTrans is glad to welcome Redwood City and all other local governments to the table to discuss the future of the Dumbarton Corridor as the process moves forward,” SamTrans spokesman Dan Lieberman said in response to the letter. “We all share the goal of improving connectivity and mobility throughout the Bay Area, and their advocacy for their citizens will help to craft a plan that works for everyone.”
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