Better Walking and Biking in Development: Development Review Update

Most of us walk every day. Some people walk for recreation and some for transportation, some because we choose to walk and some because it’s the only option. Everyday walking occurs outdoors on sidewalks and street shoulders, on multi-use and bike trails, through parks and parking lots, and indoors within rooms and hallways and on stairs. The amount we walk, the enjoyment we get from walking, and the risk of injury are all influenced by the design, operation and maintenance of spaces in our communities.

The buildings, subdivisions, parks and streets that are constructed around us are here to stay, so we’d like to ensure that these projects are designed to create healthier, more walkable, bikeable, and transit supportive communities. To this end, WALKSacramento reviews and comments on land use development project applications in the Sacramento region, primarily within the Cities of Sacramento and Rancho Cordova, and unincorporated areas of Sacramento County. Whenever possible, we work with staff within the planning and transportation departments, and with developers or their project teams to identify and incorporate active design elements into the proposed projects. So far, WALKSacramento has commented on over 300 projects.

Projects that have caught our attention lately include new shopping centers, stand-alone retail, mid-rise residential buildings in the central city, alley-access single family homes and large master planned communities. In this newsletter, we’ll highlight a few of the shopping center projects we’ve reviewed.

Access and circulation are essential elements of most development projects, and they’re critical to making a shopping center an active transportation destination. Check our recent letters on 1801 Exposition Blvd Commercial and Mack & Franklin Development. Some other shopping center projects that we’ve commented on include Howe and Folsom Retail, Florin West Shopping Center, Country Club Plaza, Anatolia Retail Center 2nd Submittal, Natomas Fountains and College Square South Drive-Through.

All of these projects, except for Country Club Plaza and Natomas Fountains, included drive-throughs. It’s rare that a drive-through window operation doesn’t negatively impact pedestrians and/or bicyclists. An older project (with 8 drive-throughs) on which we commented four times (Delta Shores Regional Commercial Center and Delta Shores Regional Commercial Center Revisions 11-26-2014 and 03-18-2015) is under construction and expected to open in September. There are several thousand single-family and multi-family homes planned for across the street within a half-mile from the power center. It will be interesting to go there and see how the shopping center serves pedestrians and bicyclists, especially with its “Main Street” that leads to the multi-screen theater.

Read More Comment Letters here.