Pomona City’s First Bike and Pedestrian Plan Approved

Pomona cyclists celebrate the passage of the city's first Active Transportation Plan. photo: Twitter @PVBike

Pomona cyclists celebrate the passage of the city’s first Active Transportation Plan. photo: Twitter @PVBike

The Pomona City Council was pretty busy last Monday night, March 3rd 2013. According to the Daily Bulletin, the council passed a General Plan amendment, a Corridors Specific Plan, an Active Transportation Plan (ATP), and a Green Plan. Pomona cyclists celebrated the passage of the Active Transportation Plan, a plan to make the city of Pomona a safe and convenient place to walk and bike.

Streetsblog wasn’t there on Monday night, so this interview with Eve Sanford will tell some of the story. Sanford is a cyclist, a self-professed “infrastructure enthusiast” and is studying planning at Cal Poly Pomona. She interns at the city of Los Angeles Transportation Department, where her duties include writing for the LADOT Bike Blog.

What’s the Pomona Active Transportation Plan? Bikes? Peds? Facilities? Programs? other stuff?

The Pomona Active Transportation Plan evaluates existing conditions and proposes key bicycle and pedestrian improvements for Pomona. The plan also overviews the types of programs that can support active travel in the city (community resources, bicycle parking) and identifies potential funding sources.

Is there a project in the plan that you’re especially excited about?

The most ambitious project in the plan, and the project that I would most like to see happen, is the bike path along the San Jose Creek. The creek is channelized and there is a right of way that runs parallel to it. The planned bike path there would connect neighboring communities of La Verne and Claremont, through North Pomona and south to connect to the Cal Poly Pomona campus. It would also connect to the future Metro Gold Line station. Unfortunately, it’s expensive to get the path around the 71 freeway that bisects Pomona.

It’s also exciting just because the city, by adopting this plan, took the first big step towards acknowledging cyclists and the need to support Active Transportation.

Tell Streetsblog readers about what it was like at Monday’s Pomona City Council meeting. Who showed up? How did it go?

At least 30 people showed up to voice support for the bike plan. There were 3-4 speakers who voiced opposition. Opposition expressed concerns that “planting trees in the middle of the road won’t help the city.” Multiple people seemed fixated on this one point. Opponents also stated their concerns about whether bicyclists are liable in accidents or carry insurance, and about city funds being spent on bikeways that could be put to use on other projects like widening the roads.

However, support for the bike plan largely overwhelmed opposition. Many supporters were Cal Poly students who expressed personal stories about the unsafe conditions they experience bicycling to school despite taking safety precautions (light, reflective gear, helmets.) A group of students met on campus to ride to the meeting and speak on the subject. Supporters commented on the unsafe conditions and the dispraportionaltely high amount of people who have died bicycling in Pomona (3 deaths in 2013, 1 death in 2014).

Supporters were present from the Pomona Valley Bicycle Coalition, Regenerative Housing Cooperative of Pomona, University Cycling Coalition at Cal Poly Pomona, and a number of other residents. The Pomona Valley Bicycle Coalition, especially Danielle Alcedo and I, has been present throughout the entire bicycle plan outreach process, organizing people to provide input on the plan at community meetings and gathering supporters to speak on behalf of the plan since the process of drafting the plan began in April of 2012.

The Active Transportation Plan was passed unanimously by the mayor and all members of City Council. Mayor Elliot Rothman acknowledged the amount of support from community members in favor of the bike plan. I ended my personal public comment by expressing that the plan should be adopted immediately so that they may apply for funding in the upcoming ATP cycle. At the end of the comment, Mayor called me back to stage and asked me to go speak with the planning director about potential funding sources.

Who do you give the credit for this plan getting going?

Matt Pilarz, the transportation engineer for the City of Pomona and Daryl Grisgby, former public works director of Pomona. Grigsby, who is currently Public Works director in San Luis Obispo, deserves a lot of credit for pushing for the plan to be made, engaging the public, and helping the plan progress.

What’s next? What do you think will look different in Pomona sooner? later?

This is the city’s first-ever bicycle or active transit plan so it’s great that Pomona is acknowledging bicyclists and the need to provide infrastructure for bicyclists in their city. That’s a big step forward.

The city passed it along with a very forward-thinking General Plan and Specific Corridor Plan, so, hopefully, this means that staff are thinking big-picture- how land-use, development, and transportation will evolve in the community and what steps can be taken to make sure that the progress works together.

I would like to see the Mayor and members of the City Council direct planning staff to pursue funding these projects. Unfortunately, despite the adoption of the ATP, Pomona does not have the funds to dedicate to some of these bicycle projects yet.  The city needs to aggressively pursue funding for the projects listed in the ATP (especially some of the more ambitious projects including the San Jose Creek bikeway.)

Pomona has the potential to be extremely competitive in the grant application process because it demonstrates such need for infrastructure, has a history of bike-ped collisions due to existing unsafe conditions and has very little existing infrastructure. I would like to see a local tax introduced to specifically improve transit projects including ATP in Pomona and creative funding solutions, for example AB 2766 funds. The City needs to focus on building routes to destination centers including Cal Poly Pomona and the downtown area.

More long-range, I would also like to see the city develop bicycle and pedestrian first-mile/last-mile connections to its future Metro Gold Line Station.

Streetsblog congratulates people who bike, walk, do business and breathe in the city of Pomona.