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San Rafael adopts road safety plan

A stretch of recently paved and painted Third Street in San Rafael on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024. (Sherry LaVars/Marin Independent Journal)

San Rafael city streets — which have the county’s highest number of repeat injury collision locations — could become safer under a new plan.

The city adopted a road safety plan that aims to eliminate traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries in the city by 2050.

It’s the same plan that the Transportation Authority of Marin approved earlier this year. San Rafael leaders chose to adopt the document as well in order to be better positioned to apply for grants designed for traffic safety improvements throughout the city.

“This moves us forward, it makes it easier to get those grants and will help us spend the dollars that we do get in the most impactful way,” Councilmember Maribeth Bushey said.

The City Council embraced the plan at its April 1 meeting. Councilmembers Eli Hill and Maika Llorens Gulati were absent from the 3-0 vote.

The plan embraces what’s called a “vision zero” strategy — first introduced in Sweden in the 1990s — to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries while increasing safe, healthy and equitable mobility.

The approach requires planners look at road systems in their entirety, from the infrastructure to policies, to make improvements for all users.

The new Marin plan builds off a countywide effort to prepare a “travel safety plan” that began in 2018. That plan was used to net more than $6 million for capital improvements in the county.

The plan examined roads, crash history, rates of incidents and other data to inform officials about what type of improvements are ideal for problem areas.

The data show there were 2,164 collisions on local Marin County roads — not owned by the state — that resulted in injury from 2017 to 2021. The number included 28 fatalities and 199 severe injuries, said Jen Shriber, a consultant who worked on the plan.

There was a peak of 542 collisions in 2017.

Unsafe speeds, improper turning, misunderstanding rights of way and impaired driving or biking were identified as the primary causes of collisions.

Of injuries and fatalities, 19% involved cyclists and 14% involved pedestrians, the data show.

For the same time period in San Rafael, 737 collisions resulted in an injury or fatality on city streets. Of those, there were three fatalities, Shriber said. The city had 58 severe injury collisions, making up more than a quarter of total severe injury collisions in the county.

In San Rafael, about 60% of injury collisions involved a motor vehicle and 16% involved a bicyclist. About 19% of injury or fatal collisions involved a pedestrian, and 74% of those happened when the person was in a crosswalk.

The plan also identifies a “high collision network,” which are segments or intersections that are common sites for injury collisions.

“We found that 20 road segments and 35 intersections were located in San Rafael,” which is the highest number of sites for a Marin municipality, Shriber said.

Sites that had the highest frequency of collisions were centered around the downtown area, including at Third Street from Lincoln Avenue to Grand Avenue; Lincoln Avenue from Second Street to Mission Avenue; Third Street from E Street to Lincoln Avenue.

The plan outlines “emphasis areas” for the city based on the cause or type of collisions that are happening most frequently.

For example, cities that showed higher percentages of pedestrian-related crashes, such as San Rafael, were flagged to add pedestrians as an emphasis area. Education, the use of emerging technology, enforcement, engineering and emergency response are strategies planners can use to address these emphasis areas, the plan says.

The plan also identifies priority projects, including signal and pedestrian improvements at Second Street from Lincoln Avenue to Grand Avenue; on Manuel T. Freitas Parkway from Del Presidio to Las Gallinas; and on Fourth Street from E Street to Lincoln Avenue.

April Miller, the city’s director of public works, said the city is already making moves on several projects, and the key is that by adopting the plan, it will be easier to secure grant funding to support planning and construction.

“It’s really critical for us to be able to apply for things like that because we can’t afford to do any of these projects without the support of state, federal and local money,” Miller said.

Councilmembers asked if the data distinguish whether cyclists were riding an e-bike.

Staff said that was not part of this study, but if the plan is updated in the future, there could be e-bike data added.

Dave Rhoads, co-chair of Walk/Bike San Rafael, an advocacy group, said he supported the plan and the vision zero goal.

“We do also support and recommend a goal of zero fatalities before 2050,” he said.

Joe Mulligan, the safety director of the Marin Cyclists group, said he agreed, adding that many older people in the county ride a bike.

“Safety is a more larger concern for these people at this age who are much more vulnerable than your average recreational cyclist who’s young and fit,” he said.

Mayor Kate Colin said she was happy to see that staff has been proactive in getting projects in motion and said she hopes that the plan will help the efforts along.

“I feel fully confident that we’ll continue to compete really, really well in the regional and local level for these funds, to have these projects go forward,” Colin said.



This article was originally published by a www.marinij.com . Read the Original article here. .

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