PIEDMONT -- The city is in the process of developing a comprehensive pedestrian and bicycle master plan that will improve walking and bicycling around town and provide safer and more convenient access to key destinations with a Safe Routes to School component.

Staff and city decision makers will work on implementing the plan over its 10-year lifetime, from 2015 through 2024. Various public meetings and workshops have been held since last fall to gather residents' input through public testimony. An new online survey is open to responses until March 23. More than 1,600 comments to date have been received from residents about the plan.

City Planner Kate Black said survey respondents can comment to prioritize projects. Residents can email her at kblack@ci.piedmont.ca.us or call 510-420-3050. A Planning Commission meeting Monday further discussed the master plan; no action was taken.

"An earlier survey came up with a list of potential solutions," Black said. "Now we want to hear about prioritizing solutions."

"We are at the hard work stage, working on buckling down to make recommendations to the City Council," Black said. "Community driven input puts us in a better position."

Piedmont received a $100,000 grant from the Alameda County Transportation Commission to develop the plan -- the first step. In a comprehensive city report, it is estimated that over the 10-year life of the plan, $1.62 million will be available for pedestrian and bicycle improvements. About $1.44 million is expected from competitive or other funding sources, $180,000 in existing city funds set aside from the Alameda County Transportation Commission, $150,000 from Measure B bicycle and pedestrian program and $30,000 from the Transportation Development Act.

The estimated total price for the project is $3.5 million. This includes building, installing and maintaining physical improvements, and programs and activities to develop policies and practices. Pedestrian projects are estimated at $1.9 million. They include sidewalk and curb ramp work, Oakland Avenue bridge improvements, "countdown" signals and new streetlights.

Bicycle projects at $1.34 million would include bike racks and lockers, a bikeway network and bicycle detection traffic signals. About $250,000 is budgeted for programs and activities such as traffic safety education and promotion of footpaths and stairways use. Development of policies and practices are estimated at $50,000.

Detailed analyses of speeds, traffic, accessibility and visibility on busy arterials such as Highland, Oakland, Grand and Moraga avenues are a key part of the lengthy report. The Safe Routes to School component looks at improving safety and accessibility for students walking or biking to school.

Twenty sites in the city have been identified for scrutiny and possible improvements for the pedestrian and bicycle plan. They include Hampton Field, Crocker Park, Wildwood Elementary School area, Coaches Field, the City Hall area, and Havens Elementary School area. A complete map of targeted areas can be found at www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/walkbike.

A map of proposed bikeways and routes can also be found at the city's website. They include: Mountain, Highland, Magnolia, Moraga and LaSalle avenues. Newly elected City Councilman Tim Rood is a big supporter of biking to work, and of the plan.

"I'm very pleased by the consultant's excellent work and the high level of community engagement in the planning process," Rood said.

"A comprehensive 'wish list' of projects, programs and policies for Piedmont have been identified, but the full list could cost twice the likely available funding," Rood said. "So our challenge now is to set priorities for what to include in the final plan in an open and transparent way.

"I would like to see, as our highest priority ... traffic calming improvements to the major streets that our kids have to cross every day to get to school, and I'm hearing lots of support for that idea in the community," Rood continued.

Black said there will be more hearings on the program.

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