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City Engineer Allowing Unsafe Conditions - Zero Corrective Action

Old 08-24-15, 12:26 AM
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fthomas
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City Engineer Allowing Unsafe Conditions - Zero Corrective Action

Laguna Niguel, CA

As a Disabled Veteran who cannot drive as a result of my disability I have to walk or bike. The area I live in has a lot of construction going on. Sidewalks are impassable and Bicycle Lanes closed. No attempt has been or is being made to provide safe alternatives or any alternatives.

I sent a polite email to the City Engineer and received a response talking about how these things happen and that the construction will begin to clear up after September. He then asked for my suggestions. Really???

The city must have codes covering these things coupled with very clear State of California requirements.

I was provided a link for contractors working in the streets of San Francisco. I sent this to the City Engineer along with photographs showing conflicting and improper signage directing pedestrians and cyclist to "Cross Here". There is no crosswalk there and the signage across the street indicates " No Pedestrian Crossing". It is a dangerous intersection without the closures and loss of the Bicycle Lane

In other areas the bike lane is blocked forcing the cyclist into 45 mph traffic. No warnings are posted for motorists to proceed with caution because they are now sharing the road with cyclists.

I believe the city is putting the private construction and contractors convenience ahead of safety for local citizens. I also believe if I was an owner of an expensive home / property then something would be done.

I checked on really bad spot a week later and no corrective action had been taken. As a Disabled Veteran I will go as far to say I believe the City of Laguna Niguel is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Do any of you have experience advocating on behalf of cyclist / pedestrians?
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Old 08-24-15, 02:07 AM
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No
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Old 08-24-15, 02:43 AM
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We had some local construction. Road closed to all through traffic. But, they were letting bikes and pedestrians trough. I just kept a careful watch out for anything that moved and was bigger than me. And, I hit a bit of gravel.

The alternative was 5 miles out of the way and a mile or two on the freeway (which is legal, just not pleasant).

I actually liked the construction though. It cut down on the traffic.

I do remember on my latest trip to Portland, a few places where the bike path was closed for construction. A bit of a pain, but I've been on worse, and managed to survive the ordeal.


Go ahead and contact the city public safety... whoever it is. Some people have been successful at getting bad sewer grates changed.

However, also consider ways to improve your own safety. Perhaps cutting across the street earlier. Alternate routes? Maybe point out that the crosswalk needs a flagger. Expensive, yes, but a drop in the bucket for the overall cost of the project.
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Old 08-24-15, 05:43 AM
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Repairs take time

Actually from what you describe in your post, I thought the person you contacted was trying to be helpful. He said it would clear up at the end of sept, and gave you some contacts to contractors.

I mean these things do take time, unfortunatly it inconveniences people


Originally Posted by fthomas View Post
Laguna Niguel, CA

As a Disabled Veteran who cannot drive as a result of my disability I have to walk or bike. The area I live in has a lot of construction going on. Sidewalks are impassable and Bicycle Lanes closed. No attempt has been or is being made to provide safe alternatives or any alternatives.

I sent a polite email to the City Engineer and received a response talking about how these things happen and that the construction will begin to clear up after September. He then asked for my suggestions. Really???

The city must have codes covering these things coupled with very clear State of California requirements.

I was provided a link for contractors working in the streets of San Francisco. I sent this to the City Engineer along with photographs showing conflicting and improper signage directing pedestrians and cyclist to "Cross Here". There is no crosswalk there and the signage across the street indicates " No Pedestrian Crossing". It is a dangerous intersection without the closures and loss of the Bicycle Lane

In other areas the bike lane is blocked forcing the cyclist into 45 mph traffic. No warnings are posted for motorists to proceed with caution because they are now sharing the road with cyclists.

I believe the city is putting the private construction and contractors convenience ahead of safety for local citizens. I also believe if I was an owner of an expensive home / property then something would be done.

I checked on really bad spot a week later and no corrective action had been taken. As a Disabled Veteran I will go as far to say I believe the City of Laguna Niguel is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Do any of you have experience advocating on behalf of cyclist / pedestrians?
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Old 08-24-15, 05:59 AM
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Consider that you have a legal right to ride your bicycle on surface streets, just like a car.
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Old 08-24-15, 06:14 AM
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California and Car Culture again!

I think that most people have a lot of trouble putting themselves in the shoes of another. Morst people drive cars, and have a hard time recognizing that the infrastructure needed for safe transit of pedestrians and cyclists (and wheelchairs and baby strollers) is even missing. So - good that it has been pointed out, and good that the city has invited suggestions. I agree that the situation you describe needs to be addressed, but it seems good to find a way forward that does not enrich the legal profession, eh?
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Old 08-24-15, 07:37 AM
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The first response from the City Engineered was condescending with no intention of addressing the problem areas pointed out.

Since the construction is not "Public Works", but new apartments I believe the City is not requiring the builder / developers to adhere to existing code and simply allowing expediency and convenience to prevail over safety. Added tax base is more important than the safety and well being of citizens exposed to unsafe conditions. Unsafe conditions that should not be allowed to exist.

It is my contention that the City is creating a legal liability for the City by not enforcing existing code and adhering to California law. One area where Bicycle lanes have been blocked has 59,000 + vehicles through the area daily. There are very limited alternative routes. Eliminating the bike lane increases the risk for cyclists and it already has more risk than I am comfortable with.

The City of Laguna Miguel is not takijng pedestrian and cyclist safety seriously. If the City fails to address access problems - the construction plans for these projects were signed off by city staff and the City Council. They failed to plan for alternate and safe means for pedestrians and cyclist to navigate these areas during construction.

The city has now been notified of specific problem areas with photographs and fails to take corrective action. What message does that send? They do not give a damn and will put the private developers convenience ahead of citizen's safety. The City is in bed with the developer, who is adding tax base.

The City of Laguna Niguel is showing a flagrant disregard for the welfare and safety of residents. In some instances they are in violation of ADA.
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Old 08-24-15, 07:40 AM
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Originally Posted by trailangel View Post
No
Good you did not pontificate! WT. Why bother posting "No"

If you cannot constructively add to the discussion then move on.
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Old 08-24-15, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by fthomas View Post
I sent a polite email to the City Engineer and received a response talking about how these things happen and that the construction will begin to clear up after September. He then asked for my suggestions.
If the bike lane is closed then temporary signs should be erected so motorists are aware that bicyclists will be using the regular travel lane. Presumably during construction the available lane is too narrow to be shared by a cyclist and a car/truck, so "Bicycles May Use Full Lane" signs would be appropriate. Since he asked for suggestions, suggest that he require use of such signs until the construction is complete.
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Old 08-24-15, 08:03 AM
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This is a significant issue across the U.S. In most European countries any works are required to provide for people walking and riding bicycles and usually do a good job. In most cases this will take priority over cars so it's not unusual to see cars detoured so car lanes can be used as a temporary sidewalk and bikeway. Also note that most folks with disabilities use the bikeways (bike, trike, handcycle, mobility scooter) so are very well cared for.

To my knowledge there are no laws or regulations preventing the 'temporary' shutting down of a sidewalk or bike lane in the U.S. Temporary being defined as something less than about 10 years from what I can tell. We've been putting constant pressure on cities and counties about this here and it's getting better. We take lots of photos, write notes, become squeaky wheels with cities and counties, and write lots of editorials for local papers.

Make sure that city council and county supervisors/commissioners are communicated with so that they know this is an issue.

Write editorials and don't hesitate to name the construction company and developer as being unfriendly. Note the value of safe and comfortable bikeways and sidewalks (improved health, improved property values, increased retail activity, ...)

Be reasonable though and don't make a big deal out of stuff that shouldn't be. Propose reasonable solutions whenever you can. For one project that seemed to constantly have a truck blocking a bikeway for 15 minutes two or three times per day we suggested they just appoint two people to direct traffic and so stop traffic to allow people walking or riding bicycles to safely go around using the traffic lane. It worked (of course we had the advantage of about 50 people per hour using it and over half being kids).

Be cognizant of causing two steps back. You don't want the city engineer who might have supported or at least not opposed a new bikeway to suddenly oppose them because once built they cause too many other headaches.
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Old 08-24-15, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
If the bike lane is closed then temporary signs should be erected so motorists are aware that bicyclists will be using the regular travel lane. Presumably during construction the available lane is too narrow to be shared by a cyclist and a car/truck, so "Bicycles May Use Full Lane" signs would be appropriate. Since he asked for suggestions, suggest that he require use of such signs until the construction is complete.
As well, the speed through any area like this should be 20 mph.
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Old 08-24-15, 08:07 AM
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OP, can you post photos.
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Old 08-24-15, 08:31 AM
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I use the sidewalk for a little over a mile on my commute home along a busy 4 lane arterial on a section of 15% grade. Over a 6 month period they were replacing the root heaved sections, and didn't do anything other than block it off.
I used alternative routes around it.
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Old 08-24-15, 09:07 AM
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I would send a registered letter to the city (not sure who specifically to address it to) stating that unsafe conditions exist in this location, that the city and the city engineer have been notified of them, and that they have elected to assume the legal risk rather than address the concerns.

If anyone is injured there, make sure that they get the information about that letter. Their lawyer will be very happy to see it.

About 25 years ago my mom tripped on a bit of pavement that had been heaved up by a storm. The city had been notified of it and let it just sit for months, they didn't do anything or post any signs or anything. My mom was unlucky, one stride left her toe just short of the upthust piece, her next stride caught her other toe there. With both feet snared, she went down like a sack of potatoes, smashed her glasses, broke her nose and got a bunch of facial lacerations. The city fell over themselves paying for her medical, new glasses, etc, because they knew if she took it to court she'd win big. She's not the kind to sue, so it only cost the city about $4000 in medical bills.

They put up barriers on the sidewalk the next day and had it fixed in a week.
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Old 08-24-15, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by fthomas View Post
In some instances they are in violation of ADA.
Specific example, with citation to applicable regs., would be useful.
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Old 08-24-15, 09:14 AM
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Send a certified letter from a lawyers office, start there. Got any local bike/ped/transportation advocacy groups? Be the squeaky wheel. The city engineer would not be the first place to contact. Mayors' office or public affairs. Veteran affairs? Try to pitch your story to a local newspaper or TV station. Realize that the construction is temporary and changing. Take the lane? Bikes are vehicles too.
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Old 08-24-15, 10:32 AM
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I road through the area a month or so ago and thought WTF when I hit some construction areas with no lane no signs, and cars going 40+?? I simply took the lane and tuned out the horns as cars slowed down significantly. I did ride fast 20+, but it's still no where near the speed of the cars that flew by me. It was a pretty sketchy ride, but I had every right to take the land and did so. If the people driving don't like it the brief few minute delay I caused then they can contact the city and complain about it.
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Old 08-24-15, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
Send a certified letter from a lawyers office, start there.
I thought about exactly that after my ride, but nothing they are doing is "illegal". I spoke to an Attorney in my law office who also does work at a local police station and she said your required to take the lane just as if the bike lane didn't exist period. Not every road has a bike lane and they are not required so there is no legal case. She said worse case scenario is someone gets hit and sues the city and hopes for an empathetic jury because the street didn't have proper signage.
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Old 08-24-15, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by LGHT View Post
I thought about exactly that after my ride, but nothing they are doing is "illegal". I spoke to an Attorney in my law office who also does work at a local police station and she said your required to take the lane just as if the bike lane didn't exist period. Not every road has a bike lane and they are not required so there is no legal case. She said worse case scenario is someone gets hit and sues the city and hopes for an empathetic jury because the street didn't have proper signage.
Thanks. As to the ADA, the crux of the law is, of course, discrimination (i.e., favoring one class over another). I don't see how closing a bike lane to everyone, regardless of whether they are disabled or not, could be considered discrimination. All people desiring to use the bike lane are being treated equally.

On top of that is the fact that sometimes things get temporarily closed for one reason or another due to new construction, rehab, etc.. I work across from Comcast's headquarters. Comcast is building a companion building right across the street from its headquarters. There are lane restriction and sidewalk closures that are going last for probably two years total. It sucks, but you what is the alternative?
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Old 08-24-15, 11:26 AM
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K'Tesh has some experience in dealing with these matters and you can read about some of his experiences here: https://www.bikeforums.net/advocacy-safety/595164-advocacy-thread-what-have-you-done-today.html
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Old 08-24-15, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Thanks. As to the ADA, the crux of the law is, of course, discrimination (i.e., favoring one class over another). I don't see how closing a bike lane to everyone, regardless of whether they are disabled or not, could be considered discrimination. All people desiring to use the bike lane are being treated equally.

On top of that is the fact that sometimes things get temporarily closed for one reason or another due to new construction, rehab, etc.. I work across from Comcast's headquarters. Comcast is building a companion building right across the street from its headquarters. There are lane restriction and sidewalk closures that are going last for probably two years total. It sucks, but you what is the alternative?
The Bike Lanes are not the only issue. Also at issue are sidewalks, which are also "open to everyone", but little used other than by people like myself. Not making provisions for the safe ingress and egress through these areas impacts everyone. Creating an unsafe environment for the pedestrian and motorist alike.

I provided a copy of Regulations for Working inSan Francisco Streets as a guide to the City in addressing accessibility. Accessibility is for all people and Bikewalk.org distributes Accessible Sidewalksand Street Crossings— an informational guide

Applying the ADA in the Public Right-ofWay:Standards, Best Practices, and GrayAreas By Geoff Ames, Accessibility Implementation Consultant, Meeting the Challenge, Inc. states:

Civil Rights on SidewalksTitle II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits state and local governments fromeither excluding people from or denying the benefits of public services on the basis of disability.Among the purposes of the ADA are the elimination of discrimination against and isolation ofpeople with disabilities. The regulation of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) clearlyrecognizes that public “pedestrian walks” are a service of state and local governments andspecifically requires entities with jurisdiction over them to provide curb ramps or other slopedareas where pedestrian walks cross curbs. In its essence, this requirement means that peoplewith disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices, have, just asmuch of a civil right to access and use public sidewalks as people without disabilities. This basicright to move about in one’s community is fundamental to the other rights identified in the ADA.Accessible sidewalks allow people with mobility or vision or cognitive impairments to travel topublic transit facilities and use buses and trains, to access the goods and services of privatebusinesses, and to participate in activities of local governments, such as voting, public meetings,and visiting a library.

A number of court decisions and settlement agreements confirm that accessible sidewalks are acivil right. Notable among this litigation is the 3rd Circuit Court’s decision in Kinney v.Yerusalim, the Northern District of California’s Californians for Disability Rights, Inc. v.California Department of Transportation, and the Northern District of Texas’ Richard Frame, etal. v. City of Arlington. A quick review of these cases would lead most fiscal conservatives toconclude that it has cost public entities as much, or more, to litigate these cases than it will costthem to fix their sidewalks.

Empahsis above mine

Though the above addresses "fixing sidewalks" I contend that the City of Laguna Niguel has the same burden to ensure availability of sidewalks as public right-of-way and to ensure that provisions for safe passage through these areas of construction are available verses closing them to all access. If I elect to ride the bus or train I must pass through one or more of these areas where commercial construction is ongoing.

Not being familiar with the Comcast construction in your area and the resulting sidewalk closures a reasonable compromise is to provide for alternative routes, which is not being done here.


Cross Here No Ped Crossing

In this instance the sidewalk is closed and the pedestrian is instructed to "Cross Here". First there is no metered crosswalk nor any crosswalk for that matter and the signage across the street specifically states "No Ped Crossing". This is at a very busy intersection and following the posted instructions is inherently dangerous setting up immediate conflicts between pedestrian and motor vehicles and bicycles for that matter.

Around the corner the surface street passes under Interstate 5 and the only sidewalk crossing is closed. No alternative route and none is available without walking at minimum 2 miles. Someone is suffering from the Four P's.

ADA requirements for Bike Lanes verses sidewalks I am sure differs greatly.

CaliforniaManual on UniformTraffic Control Devicesfor Streets and Highways
(FHWA’s MUTCD 2003 Edition,as amended for use in California)
PART 9Traffic Controlsfor Bicycle Facilities


LGHT I am not in a position to speak to the "legality of what " The City of Laguna Niguel is nor is not doing, but I assure you that they do not appear to be conforming to the California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways Part 9 Traffic Controls for Bicycle Facilities.

Regardless of "legality" - I would imagine the bar that distinguishes between criminal negligence verses a civil case are quite different. I am not an attorney.

Lastly, based on walking and riding these areas for a number of months I assure you there is extremely lax or no traffic enforcement taking place by law enforcement. The jurisdictions change quickly between communities, but all are using the Orange County Sheriff's Department for policing of the community. I have almost been struck multiple times at one intersection that is the entrance to a Costco by drivers running the left hand turn signal into Costco and by drivers failing to stop behind the crosswalk when making a right turn onto a major thoroughfare with their vision blocked by a vehicle stopped in the left hand turn lane behind the crosswalk. This has happened both walking and pedaling.

I do my utmost best to be a safe pedestrian and cyclist who adheres to traffic regulations and also exercises an abundance of caution at all times, particularly in these areas.

If the City will not act in a prudent and reasonable manner to do their best to ensure the safety of all citizens - pedestrians, cyclist, motorcyclist, and motor vehicles what alternatives are available to the average citizen to seek change?
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Old 08-24-15, 01:10 PM
  #22  
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Your citation is not to anything official. Also, it discusses exactly what I mentioned above: differing treatment. From what you quote:
"prohibits state and local governments from either excluding people from or denying the benefits of public services on the basis of disability" (emphasis added.) The 'civil right" is for the disabled and non-disabled to have equal access, hence things like curb cuts. No one group is being denied access. Just because you cannot drive due to a disability and thus have to walk or bike doesn't mean you are being discriminated against on the basis of a disability. Everyone who is not disabled is also being excluded.

The temporary conditions may be unsafe. They may be a P.I.T.A. But I don't believe they qualify as violations of the ADA.
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Old 08-24-15, 01:35 PM
  #23  
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I think you are going to have an extremely difficult time accomplishing anything from a legal standpoint. To my knowledge there is nothing there to hang on to. You are much better off appealing to common sense and basic consideration for others. Help the violators to understand why it's a problem and who's affected. Suggest possible solutions like creating a temporary bike/pedway with barriers or lowering the speed limit to 15 and narrow the lanes to 10' through the construction zone and install big bright orange signs that drivers must yield to people who are disabled, riding, or walking.
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Old 08-24-15, 03:56 PM
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Here is a quotation that speaks directly to Public Law 101-336, 104 Stat.327, July 26, 1990. 42 USC 12101-12213 (as amended)

When traffic control plans are developed by the contractor
The needs and control of all road users (motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians within the highway and/or public right-of-way, including persons with disabilities in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Title II, Paragraph 35.130) through a temporary traffic control “TTC” zone shall be an essential part of highway construction, utility work, maintenance operations, and the management of traffic incidents. The primary function of TTC is to provide for the reasonably safe and efficient movement of road users through or around TTC zones while reasonably protecting workers, responders to traffic incidents, and equipment.


Temporary facilities, including reasonably safe pedestrian routes around work sites, are also covered by the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) (Public Law 101-336, 104 Stat.327, July 26, 1990. 42 USC 12101-12213 (as amended)). Implementation of TTC plans and installation and maintenance of devices shall be the responsibility of the contractor performing the construction, alteration and/or maintenance of the highway or public right-of-way. When an existing continuous sidewalk or street crossing route cannot be maintained for pedestrians because of construction, either temporary walkways with curb ramps are to be provided, or the construction shall be phased to maintain access to the affected addresses. Contractors shall be allowed flexibility as long as the requirements are met.

Please do not assume that I personally feel discriminated against nor specifically set aside for special treatment. That is not the issue at all. The issue is providing a safe environment and accommodations for pedestrians, bicyclist and motor vehicles to be able to have equal access to public transportation and bicycle, pedestrian and motor vehicle right-of-way during construction. The greatest burden is on the developer / builder / contractor and the City(s) to ensure that they comply with existing regulations and laws. There is more than ample case law to support my contention.

I am not here to debate the issue, but to seek assistance on how best to address it. I have been invited to speak before the City Traffic Committee and the Committee member I spoke to was not aware of my communications with the city regarding the issue going back almost two weeks now and questioned why it was not part of this month's agenda since emails had been exchanged addressing the problem areas. This Committee Member is an attorney and immediately stated that she feels that failing to address the problem areas creates a legal liability for the City.
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Old 08-24-15, 08:55 PM
  #25  
B. Carfree
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Originally Posted by auldgeunquers View Post
California and Car Culture again!
Originally Posted by StreetsblogLA
The news from Caltrans’ 2012 California Household Travel Survey is not too surprising: Californians are making more trips by walking, bicycling, and transit than they were in 2000. The survey found the percentage of trips by these modes doubled in ten years and make up nearly 23 percent of all trips in the state.
California Biking, Walking, Transit Use Up Despite Little Investment | Streetsblog Los Angeles

And your Province has more trips by other than cars? I doubt it.

Time to stop living in the past. Marilyn Monroe isn't in the house any more and the car is not the king it once was in the Golden State.
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