News

VINE TRAIL Bike Route via a Bike Boulevard on Church Street

03/21/2022

Letter from Vine Trail Coalition President and Board Chair Chuck McMinn to the Saint Helena City Council.

Dear Saint Helena City Council,

We have read the staff report for the March 22, 2022 City Council discussion on the route of the Vine Trail in Saint Helena (Item 12.1). We note that staff did not offer a sample resolution. A strong, specific resolution is important for the Council to pass, and we are pleased to offer the following as the proposed resolution:

The Saint Helena City Council adopts the following Vine Trail Route through Saint Helena:

  • A Class 1 route from the Southern City Limits along Main Street/Highway 29 to Pope Street.
  • A Class 1 route crossing Main Street at Pope Street and continuing to Church Street.
  • A Bike Boulevard (enhanced Class 3 with traffic calming) along Church Street from Pope Street to Hunt Street. The Traffic calming design will prioritize bicycle and pedestrian travel, reduce traffic speeds to 20 mph or less and reduce traffic volumes on the street to below 1,500 vehicles per day as recommended by NATCO guidelines for Bike Boulevards.
  • A Class 1 route from Hunt to Adams along Railroad Avenue next to the Wine Train tracks.
  • A Class 1 route from Adams to Pratt on the Wine Train ROW.
  • A Class 1 route on Pratt to Main Street to connect to the Saint Helena to Calistoga route.

This recommendation is in line with the generally positive feedback we have received for a Bicycle Boulevard on Church Street but leaves open the actual design details for how we will achieve the traffic calming goals which was requested by Church Street residents and City Staff.

We also recommend that the City Council involve Church Street residents as part of the design committee that looks at traffic calming alternatives for Church Street.

Bicycle Boulevard speed and volume goals backup information:

  • NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guidelines (Volumes): On roadways with shared travel lanes such as bicycle boulevards, motor vehicle traffic volumes significantly impact bicyclist comfort. Higher vehicle volumes decrease comfort and may lead to a greater potential for conflicts, as well as a loss of perceived safety. Bicycle boulevards should be designed for motor vehicle volumes under 1,500 vehicles per day (vpd), with up to 3,000 vpd allowed in limited sections of a bicycle boulevard corridor.
  • NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guidelines (Speed): Streets developed as bicycle boulevards should have 85th percentile speeds at 25 mph or less (20 mph preferred).

As stated in our previous letters, the Vine Trail is eager to find a solution to a safe bicycle and pedestrian route completely through Saint Helena. Our proposed resolution accomplishes this. Any route that does not describe a clear, safe well-defined path will not serve the community well since:

  • It would not be safe enough for a new class of users, and as such we would not see the eightfold increase in trail use that we see in other areas of the County where we have built the Trail.
  • It will not provide the easy, convenient alternative to using a car for transportation-oriented trips by the 70% of users who will be locals, a major goal of the Vine Trail.
  • For both these reasons, it will not score well in the ATP grant cycle process because it would not create a continuous safe corridor for bicycles and pedestrians and a greenhouse gas reducing replacement for cars. This would put the entire project application from Yountville to Saint Helena in jeopardy of not being funded at all.

We also want to make clear that the joint meeting of the ATSC and Parks Commission did not make a clear, well defined route recommendation to the City Council which would meet the above criteria.

Our proposed strong statement of support for a well-defined, contiguous route that sets clear goals for safety while reserving design considerations for the appropriate time once the grant is secured will serve the City of Saint Helena and its residents and businesses well.

Sincerely,

Chuck McMinn
President & Chair
Napa Valley Vine Trail Coalition

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Additional Resources:

City of Napa Bicycle Plan

Emeryville Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan - Bike Blvds

NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guidelines