Are streets in Natomas made for walking and biking?

Published on
November 1, 2011

"Streetwise: Walking & Biking In Natomas" was undertaken as part of the health journalism program offered through The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships.

The four-part series set out to examine whether efforts to create a healthy, walkable and bikeable community in Natomas have been successful.

Six months of research encompassed more than two dozen interviews with area residents, political leaders, transportation agencies, special interest groups, law enforcement agencies, city officials and local school districts.

Ten year's worth of data was requested from the California Highway Patrol and mapped to illustrate the location of pedestrian and bike accidents and pointed to areas where higher concentrations of accidents occurred.

Research included 10 years of accident reports along one of the region's busiest thoroughfares requested from the Sacramento Dept. of Transportation; these were graphed for purposes of comparison with area resident's perceptions of street safety.

U.S. Census data of the area's population, as well as local residents' mode of transportation to work, was compared to responses from a two-week online survey about walking, biking and commuting in Natomas.

Complaints that cars frequently run red lights at busy intersections was researched. Over a 30-minute period, a series of light changes caught on video confirmed this problem. In one instance, three pedestrians had to wait to cross the street while 11 cars drove through a red light - while the seeing impaired signal chirped it was safe to cross.

Traffic adjacent to area schools was also documented on video, confirming both a large volume of students driven to and from school and driver behaviors that put children's lives at risk.

In the end, the series showed connectivity and safety issues stand in the way of Natomas truly becoming a walkable and bikeable community. The rest of the story for this master-planned community remains to be written.

Click here to read the series.