Transportation Committee - April 08, 2009

April 8, 2009 – 9:00 am
SSC 306

Attendees: Lee Altier, Robyn Hearne, Suzy Littrell, Alan Relaford, Ken Sator, Debbie Vermette, Rick Rees, Eric Reichel

Guests: Christina Aranguren and John Whitehead from Mansion Park/CANA (Chico Avenues Neighborhood Association)

Chief Reichel introduced and welcomed the guests. He explained to them the committee is an advisory committee only, there is no budget, nor are any decisions made; only recommendations to the VP, to UPD, and other departments, as well as the cabinet.

Chief Reichel told them about the current project of addressing vehicle traffic in the core of campus, and that the sub-committee chair would report on the status later in the meeting.

TDM Public Forum:  Chief Reichel said the Transportation Demand Management Forum for the public took place on April 1st. It was the second and final public forum meeting. He said the audience, which included representatives from the City of Chico, neighbors of Chico State, and people from the campus community, made good recommendations. The consultants will be looking at all of the recommendations, then meeting with the advisory committee (of which Chief Reichel is a member) for final input.  Their final report will be out in May. The TDM is a tool that the University will use; nothing will be “mandated.” Some recommendations will be implemented; some won’t. The report includes a lot about bike transportation and pedestrian traffic, car pools, etc. Since this committee doesn’t meet over the summer, the final outcome may not be shared until the first meeting in the fall.

Transportation Sub-Committee: Rick Rees reported the sub-committee met three times. Rick is now in the process of putting together the report. Although it took time, the walks around the campus were useful. They acquired a lot of information. He said they realized how difficult the issue is regarding vehicles on campus because many buildings don’t have loading docks, the areas around some buildings are small, and there is a huge need for certain vehicles to be on campus. The sub-committee believes there are some remedies out there; it will all be presented in the final report. Lee Altier commented that his participation on the sub-committee was educational for him. He said he got a lot out of it. Rick said to expect the report at the May meeting. (May 13th)

The group discussed the various campus construction projects taking place and upcoming. It was noted that the postponed work at the PAC building would probably be the first project that will be resumed, once the budget for it becomes available again. The First Street renovation is next on the list. There will be a lot of road block areas and the sub-committee’s suggestions will be important.  Rick said just moving people in and out of campus to handle the daily maintenance projects will be challenging once the major projects are resumed.

Ken Sator commented he was glad that the sub-committee was looking at the operational needs of the various departments and buildings because some driving in the campus core is and will continue to be unavoidable.

Parking Management Update: Lt. Hearne reported the Parking Management Department is gearing up for various special events taking place over the summer. They are looking at using the 3rd floor of the parking structure as a designated area for things like Summer O parking. She said Alan Relaford has been helping with the design of new signs related to special event parking.

Lt. Hearne said the new parking dispensers do not interface with Cashnet. This has prompted them to study the options regarding the purchase and installation of new dispensers.

Other Business: Ken Sator said since the University has had the 2 new buses with the new logos, people who are reserving buses are specifically requesting the new ones. They seem to like the publicity they are getting, especially when taking the buses out of town.

Guests’ Comments: Christina Aranguren and John Whitehead from CANA were welcomed by Chief Reichel. He said the letter that was sent out to the committee members via e-mail prior to today’s meeting was from Ms. Aranguren and he welcomed her discussion/comments in front of the committee.

Ms. Aranguren said the comments on the letter were her own, and not necessarily from the Chico Avenues Neighborhood Association. She continued that both she and John Whitehead were new to the board and they were very interested in the TDM report because of their neighborhood’s proximity to campus. She said she is also an advocate of bicycle riding and is especially interested in what is happening with regard to bike access on and around campus.

John Whtiehead said they met recently with Mr. Rucker, the Assistant City Manager. They discussed bike safety education and National Bike Safety Week. Mr. Whitehead said he wanted the University to consider recommending that Bike Safety Week be moved to some time at the beginning of each semester. This year, the National Bike Week is the week before finals. He said they believe if it is moved to the beginning of the semester, the impact would be greater. The feedback he received from the City was positive; however, he was also told if his group could find a way to fund it, the City would be eager to comply. Continuing, Mr. Whitehead said it is a coordinated effort between the City of Chico, the University, and the Chico Unified School District (although he hasn’t spoken to anyone from the School District yet).

Mr. Whitehead brought up the subject of bicycle safety education versus enforcement. Some bike riders do not realize they are bound by same code as automobiles. He said the stance of his Association is that education is more important than enforcement.

Lt. Hearne said that typically UPD officers are much more likely to give out warnings than citations. It is tracked in the computer system, who has been given a “warning” so if the person is a repeat offender, that may determine that a cite is issued instead of another warning.

Chief Reichel explained what the University Police Department does during the first few weeks of each semester. He said they put up sandwich boards around campus with safety messages; there is a continual educational effort by UPD staff which includes Parking Officers and Community Service Officers out and about on campus. He said his department also participates in the Summer Orientation program which includes talks regarding bike safety, bike riding rules on campus, etc. Students AND parents receive pamphlets regarding bike riding, maps, alternative transportation, etc. He said he believes the message to students promoting alternative transportation methods is getting across in that vehicle parking permits for the A lot did not sell out this year and bike license sales have increased.

Chief Reichel said he is also a member of the City’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, and he stays on top of the issues discussed at that monthly meeting. He said that UPD has made campus announcements in the past reminding bicyclists they are under the same laws as vehicles. He said he will continue to do that each semester when he puts out reminders about bike safety, railroad safety, and other general safety issues.  

It was reiterated by Ms. Aranguren that National Bike Week is just as much a festival as it is an educational event, and anything this committee can do to influence changing the timing of when it happens would be beneficial. She said she would like to see the University look at their academic calendar and come up with dates that work for the University. Whatever can be done to influence a change in the scheduling of bike week, she said, was important.

Lee asked if a significant part of the TDM study addresses bicyclists. Chief Reichel said they touch on it, but it is not necessarily significant. Lt. Hearne said she has been engaged in conversations with key people on campus regarding changing the types of bike racks, the placement of bike racks, etc. to encourage compliance with the bike core rules. Students are very used to parking near their buildings, she continued. She said she is also addressing issues such as finding bikes locked up to fences, trees, doorways, etc.

Chief Reichel commented that the TDM study does address bike stalls on campus, the lack of security for bike parking, the need for covered bike parking, etc.

Rick Rees commented that the festivities planned around the opening of the new Recreation Center on campus can help with promoting bicycle safety education. Chief Reichel said as soon as the Recreation Center is open, there will be a secured covered bike parking area for bikes on the first floor of the parking structure. As we look at developing the next parking structure, it, too will have secured covered bicycle parking. Those are some of the things currently being addressed.

He continued, the TDM study does recommend certain bike routes be designated through campus. There are outlying areas that are more practical, however, (e.g. existing bike path). It was discussed that identifying safe routes used to get through campus on bicycles was important. Chief Reichel said he agreed; however, through the campus core is not an alternative, in his opinion. UPD officers see too many bike riders through the core where there are many pedestrians and it is too unsafe to combine pedestrian traffic with bike traffic.

Ms. Aranguren commented that iPods have not helped the situation; she has seen many pedestrians with iPods who contribute to unsafe conditions by not being aware of what is around them.

Chief Reichel said that ultimately the University is concerned with safety first. Secondly, he said they are looking at how we (University Police) can become more efficient in the things we do here.

Lee made another comment that at 7:45 am, he said, it is very congested down Memorial Way. He said he was broadsided by a vehicle at Memorial Way and Oleander recently. He said that finding safer routes to/from campus should be an urgency.

Ms. Aranguren asked Chief Reichel what his opinion was about Fehr & Peers’ notion of 2-way bike riding in front of the mansion. One of their recommendations is to have a new bike path built in front of the Bidwell Mansion that would be 2-way directional to curb the cyclists going through the Aymer J Hamilton area. She continued, she was not adverse to change but asked what is going to stop people from still going through the Aymer J Hamilton area. Chief Reichel said he did read that in the study, however, he honestly hasn’t thought about it yet.

The meeting adjourned at 10:00 am.