Active Transportation Plan Approved by County Supervisors – Santa Cruz Sentinel
SANTA CRUZ — The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the county’s active transportation plan — a project in development since early 2020.
The plan is designed to provide the county with tools to help reduce barriers to walking and cycling, according to the staff report. It is the first of its kind to comprehensively plan future pedestrian facilities in unincorporated Santa Cruz County and it will update the county’s bicycle plan beginning in 2011.
“The vision is to create a network of biking and walking routes that connect major destinations in the county,” Santa Cruz County Chief Engineer Russell Chen said during a presentation to council earlier this month. According to Chen, this vision includes routes that are “safe, comfortable, and accessible to community members of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities.”
The active transportation plan is designed for unincorporated areas of Santa Cruz County and does not include plans for the cities of Capitola, Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley and Watsonville, according to a county news release. In unincorporated areas, the plan focuses on high density communities and destinations including Davenport, Boulder Creek, Ben Lomond, Felton, Live Oak, Soquel, Aptos, Rio Del Mar, La Selva Beach, Corralitos and Amesti. According to statistics shared during a county budget presentation earlier in the meeting, 50% of the county’s population lives in unincorporated areas served by the county, which is a significantly higher percentage than virtually all neighboring counties.
“Our county has one of the highest incidents of vehicle-to-pedestrian and vehicle-to-bicycle incidents in the state of California, by year,” said Supervisor Zach Friend, whose district includes areas not incorporated La Selva Beach, Corralitos and Rio Del Mar. “Having a planning document like this positions us for better funding in the state…and is the first step to future improvements that will erase this problem from our community, from a safety perspective,” he said.
“It’s great that we have this transportation plan,” said supervisor Bruce McPherson. “We really need it. It’s a footprint to say in which direction we want to go, excuse the pun.
In addition to guidance on where and how bicycle and pedestrian projects should be implemented, the Active Transportation Plan also provides grant application strategies. The county has already successfully applied for a $5 million Clean California grant for a multi-use trail on Green Valley Road, according to the release. This specific project was identified as a priority during the Active Transportation Plan planning process.
In a presentation to council, Amelia Conlen, transportation planner for Ecology Action, detailed the public awareness efforts that were consistently relied upon throughout the planning process. According to Conlen, three virtual public hearings were held, 342 comments were submitted by the public from interactive mapping tools, 600 responses were received via online surveys and approximately 4,500 members of the public engaged in the process through social media. 86% of survey respondents indicated that they would like to walk or cycle more in their daily lives.
The active transportation plan also lists several high priority projects for the county to work on. Chen said local grants and funding will be leveraged to advance these efforts on a larger scale.
To see the final plan, visit ecoact.org. Hard copies are available at Boulder Creek, Felton, Live Oak and La Selva Beach public libraries.