30% of school children in the city of Santa Cruz, CA bike or walk to school, according to Ecology Action, and the city of Santa Cruz would like to increase that number. To help accomplish this, Santa Cruz City Council unanimously approved Santa Cruz City Schools Complete Streets Master Plan.
The plan describes the transportation environment in the neighborhoods around each of the ten Santa Cruz public elementary, middle and high schools, including the two charter schools. It identifies barriers to students walking and biking and provides a list of potential capital improvement projects to make active transportation safer and more convenient, using Complete Streets and Safe Routes to Schools principles to evaluate current conditions and guide the design of proposed solutions. It supports future grant applications to fund the proposed projects which would not only benefit the schools, but also the adjoining neighborhoods and the broader community.
The proposals range from simple and low-cost projects such as new signs, to major intersection reconfigurations that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The most expensive, million dollar projects tend to be those to add sidewalks and paths in the neighborhoods around the schools.
The plan authors prioritized projects based on school proximity, cost, crash data, traffic volume, and feasibility. I listed the top priority project for each of the schools below. Because priority includes cost and feasibility along with benefit, you’ll see mostly low-hanging fruit that can be implemented quickly and cheaply, saving the more politically and financially expensive projects for later implementation.
- Bayview Elementary: Install “Share the Road” signs at the back entrance to Bayview Elementary School. Personal note: I thought city of Santa Cruz policy is to use BMUFL signs now?
- Delaveaga Elementary: Upgrade west sidewalk on Morrissey Boulevard overpass to a two-way multi-use path for
pedestrians and cyclist; add a barrier between the path and adjacent travel lane; install entrance features to direct bicyclist to the multi-use path as oppose to using travel lane on to freeway.
- Gault Elementary: Addd yellow crosswalks on the north and south legs of Cayuga Street at Broadway; move advance stop bar back from intersection.
- Westlake Elementary: Consider a Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB) to increase visibility of pedestrians at uncontrolled crosswalk on Bay Drive at Meder Street.
- Branciforte Middle: Consider Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacon (RRFB) for pedestrian crossing on west leg of intersection on Water at Poplar.
- Mission Hill Middle: Study signal timing to ensure sufficient crossing time for pedestrians on Mission and Walnut. Personal note: Also, this intersection does not detect bicycles to trigger lights, forcing cyclists to get on the sidewalk to press the beg button.
- Harbor High: Review signal timing to evaluate reducing wait time for pedestrians on Soquel at 7th.
- Santa Cruz High: Study warrants for all-way stop on Walnut Avenue at California Street and Grover Lane intersections.
- Branciforte Small: Consider installing high-visibility crosswalk and access ramps on north leg of intersection of N Branciforte Avenue and Sunnyside Ave.
- Pacific Collegiate: Install advance stop line on all three legs of Swift and Chance.
People Power Director Amelia Conlen asked council for immediate funding for some projects, and asked them to move forward on bike lanes for King Street near Mission Hill Middle School.
Read more about the council meeting at the Sentinel: Santa Cruz study identifies 160 ways to improve biking, walking to school.
Read the full plan here.