Bill Glazier and a city report contributed to this article
South Pasadena City Council members Wednesday night awarded a construction contract to E.C. Construction Company, with an amendment, for a citywide bike parking at various locations for an amount not-to-exceed $204,780 in grant funds.
In 2012, the city submitted a grant application for the South Pasadena Bicycle Parking project under the Caltrans Bicycle Transportation Account (BTA) fund, which was subsequently awarded.
Since the grant was awarded, the BTA has granted several extensions for the funding. In March 2018, the City of South Pasadena received a letter from the BTA coordinator providing all agencies with outstanding funds a uniform final deadline of April 1, 2020 to submit the final invoice for projects. For the City of South Pasadena to meet this invoice deadline, the project needs to be completed by mid-March 2020. City staff reached out to the granting agency for a possible extension. The agency responded that another extension would be highly unlikely. Turnover in staff, say city officials, and competing priorities delayed the implementation of the project.
In order for the city to maintain the grant funding, city staff made a recommendation to proceed with the contract award to E.C. Construction Company for the citywide bike-parking project. City officials say minor adjustments can still be made to the bike parking locations after the award of the contract.
South Pasadena City Councilman Dr. Richard Schneider, a cyclist, said two major developments were resolved regarding the issue Wednesday night. “We’re going to follow the recommendations of the bicycle community as outlined by Active San Gabriel Valley for placement of the bike racks throughout the city, particularly in the business district,” he said, adding that a key component to the issue will “redesigning the bike racks so they can make them more useful to the bicyclists. The current hitch rack is too high for the kids to put their bikes on. So, they have to lower it and make it larger and eliminate some of the center, which makes it hard to use. They have to redesign the rack.”
Earlier this month when the issue was raised, the council directed staff to:
- Evaluate the possibility of replacing the current city custom design bike hitches (consistent with those located at City Hall, city parks, and the Arroyo Seco Bike and Pedestrian trail) with the inverted “U-rack” type bike parking.
- Research “off-the-shelf’ alternatives that may be less expensive.
- Provide photos of the proposed bike parking locations. In response, staff contacted four vendors and none of them maintained an “off-the-shelf” bike rack inventory.
According to city officials all vendors quoted a minimum lead time of six to eight weeks to manufacture the inverted “U-rack.”
City of South Pasadena officials say changing the specification of the bike racks to inverted “U-rack” design would result in a substantial change to the scope of work which would require the project to be competitively bid under the public contract code. Rebidding the project, the say, would likely add another eight to 12 weeks to the project schedule, and therefore may jeopardize the available grant funding for this project. The current project schedule as proposed is an aggressive schedule that doesn’t have any flexibility for unforeseen conditions or delays.
Schneider urged Shahid Abbas, the city’s public works director, to push hard over the next several months to meet the April 1, 2020 deadline.
“We have received many emails from various bicyclists and other people who are concerned with this transportation project,” said the councilmember, “and they have been very critical of the city. I kind of agree with them.”
He said a group of cyclists, including himself, got together all agreeing the plan has flaws, “and I was rather disappointed in the current staff report which said ‘we don’t have enough time to change it and therefore we’re going to go forward with what we planned last time.’ I was very disappointed with that response and don’t think it was an adequate response. In your report, you said it would take a minimum lead time of six to eight weeks to manufacture the racks and rebidding the project would likely add eight to 12 weeks to the project’s schedule. You said that was not enough time.”
Schneider did the math and determined that 19 weeks from last Wednesday falls April 1, 2020. “You had enough time,” he told Abbas. “You had enough time to change the request from the manufacturer. I think you need to work on that and not just try to push forward this other plan most of the bicycle community and prospective bicyclists are disagreeing with. I would not be going forward with this project if we’re wasting money.”
The councilmember stressed during his comment on the agenda item, insisting: “You have 19 weeks to get this done. I think you have enough time to do it.”
In 2012, the City of South Pasadena was awarded a grant for bicycle parking, lockers, shelters and hitches. Bicycle parking is a part of the 2011 Bike Master Plan and the project locations were selected after soliciting input from the community.
At a November 6 meeting, the council directed city staff to perform additional outreach regarding the bike lockers. City staff met with the Chamber of Commerce and Active San Gabriel Valley (SGV) to discuss the proposed bike lockers.
Both groups expressed concerns with the bike lockers proposed in the original scope of work. Some of the major concerns expressed were the theft of the bike lockers and lockers being used to store other items besides bicycles.
The city, according to a report on the issue, needs a manufacturer who can provide custom bike rack designs (hitches) to match the existing city designs.
The manufacturer selected has experience, as they have provided some of the existing hitches throughout the city before. Due to the specialized nature of this project and the majority of the cost being in the manufacturing of the bicycle storage facilities, staff believes that it is highly unlikely that formally re-advertising the project would yield better results.
Original proposed bike parking locations were selected based on community feedback as part of the Bike Master Plan, input provided by Active SGV as part of the Bike Friendly Business District Program, and input received from the City of South Pasadena Departments. Some of the locations originally requested did not allow for the required ADA access on the sidewalks, therefore adjustments had to be made to relocate the bike racks to maintain ADA access along the sidewalks.