Today, at the Irvine City Council meeting, our Public Works Director Manuel Gomez presented updates on implementation of the recommendations from the Citywide Traffic Study, including intersection upgrades (protected/permissive left turns, signal synchronization), road widening, and two new iShuttle bus transit routes. However, nearly all are in the design and planning phase or awaiting funding; some of these improvements are many years in the future.
So I released my plan to engage more Irvine residents and commuters in sustainable modes of transit that are already available – bus and bike – and also create a new commission with broad participation on traffic issues. Here is the text of my public comment:
Good evening, Mayor Choi and council members. My name is Courtney Santos, and I am a renter, public transit user, and candidate for City Council. I have heard from many residents who are angry about increasing traffic, and some who are upset about limited public transit and the cancellation of OCTA route 175. Since the last discussion of the Citywide Traffic Study was some time ago, I am thankful for these updates on signal coordination, permissive left turns, and new iShuttle routes.
However, many of these projects are scheduled for 2018 and beyond, while traffic is severe now. While waiting for new construction and bus service to begin, we can make small changes with big impacts and learn from cities at the forefront of sustainability, like Portland. That is why I am pleased to announce my plan for reducing traffic in Irvine. We should:
1. Provide a map with ALL transit options, not just bikeways, on our city website and encourage employers, schools, and apartment complexes to link to it. Educating residents on transportation options and connections between modes is a crucial component of increasing sustainable transit use.
2. Consider using a portion of council members’ 10,000 community partnership grants to sponsor local schoolchildren to ride the school bus, which can cost up to $390 per year.
3. Work with employers, schools, and apartment complexes on incentive programs for transit use. For example, apartment households with fewer or zero cars could receive discounts on rent or transit passes.
4. Encourage employers and complexes to sponsor a shelter for the nearest bus stop or provide a comfortable and attractive bus shelter and bike racks in the architectural design of new development. The built environment can highlight the value that we place on sustainable urbanism. Bus shelters should also feature prominently in the Orange County Great Park’s landscape design.
5. Create a plan to connect existing off-street bikeways to the Spectrum, the Irvine Business Complex (IBC), the Great Park, and schools like Irvine Valley College, Irvine High School and Beckman High School.
6. Form a nine-member Community Transportation Commission composed of representatives from the Planning Commission, the Green Ribbon Environmental Committee, university researchers, the Irvine Police Department, OCTA, schools, and residents of multiple Irvine neighborhoods. As I envision it, this body will address road improvements, transit connectivity, and resident complaints about traffic hot-spots and hazards, such as intersections where motorists ignore stop signs. Most importantly, it will develop a research-based comprehensive plan to integrate technology as we grow our residential and commuter populations, such as implementing smart-responsive traffic lights and managing self-driving vehicles.