UC Berkeley Brings Bicycling Safety Assessments to California Jurisdictions

August 26, 2014

With the goal of improving safety for bicyclists and pedestrians, the City of Stockton turned to the Technology Transfer Program at the University of California, Berkeley. A three-month assessment, completed in September, evaluated safety elements that were working well and identified areas where changes could make pedestrian and bicycling access better.

The Technology Transfer Program, a division of the university’s Institute of Transportation Studies, offers a wealth of guidance on best practices through safety assessment evaluators who are specialists in the profession.

Afsaneh Yavari, research and development engineer with the Technology Transfer Program, says the program is funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

While it’s not clear if there are similar programs in other states, what is sure is that the Technology Transfer Program has been well received by clients. “We receive very positive feedback from the clients for all our programs, for both the site visits by the evaluators as well as for the reports that we submit to them,” Afsaneh says.

Among the program’s evaluators is Kamala Parks, a senior planner in Kittelson & Associates, Inc.’s Oakland office. KAI began providing Pedestrian Safety Assessments for the program in 2008. Last year, the program added Bicycling Safety Assessments to its services, and Kamala was part of the KAI team that developed guidelines for the evaluations.

“There were a lot of similarities to the Pedestrian Safety Assessments, but there were a couple of key things we had to think about from a bicycling standpoint. Leading the bicycling field audit, we had to address participants’ comfort and abilities with cycling and cover more area geographically than we do with the pedestrian field audits. For the policies, we added new considerations like parking and the interface of bikes on transit,” she says.

Other policy considerations included the availability of showers for people who bike to work and the presence of bike repair stations.

“The addition of the Bicycling Safety Assessment has been received extremely well,” Afsaneh notes. “We got more applications for a BSA this year than for a PSA. We’ve already started a waiting list for BSAs for the next grant cycle.”

The combined bicycling/pedestrian assessment for the City of Stockton was a pilot project for this Pedestrian Safety Focus city, as identified by the Federal Highway Administration in 2011. KAI and Fehr & Peers worked with the city staff to evaluate what they were accomplishing from a policy standpoint and then identified locations for walking and biking audits to develop suggestions and solutions.

In addition to Pedestrian and Bicycling Safety Assessments, the Technology Transfer Program provides training, workshops, conferences and other information resources in the transportation-related planning and policy, traffic engineering, project development, infrastructure design and maintenance, safety, environmental issues, railroads and aviation. The program is available to all California jurisdictions.

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