Making the streets safer for pedestrians, is the goal of a new research project in Loleta

The Redwood Community Action Agency (RCAA), joined Humboldt County Supervisors, Public Works, and Loleta community leaders on the field walk. | Photo by Karina Ramos Villalobos

UC Berkeley researchers are helping Loleta make their streets safer by participating in the Complete Streets Safety assessment program. They’ll make recommendations to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

“We rely more on the fieldwork and the perceptions from the residents that are actually using the streets on a daily basis,” Joy Bhattacharya, Traffic Engineering Instructor at UC Berkeley. “So we try to understand what the issues are and then we apply the best practices to come up with some of the recommendations. That could be like near-term solutions as well as long-term solutions.”

After this assessment, Loleta can use the information in the report to apply for the Active Transportation Program (ATP) to help build short and long-term solutions. Their goal is to finish the assessment by June.

“With RCAA, they are helping us write an ATP grant or apply for an ATP grant which would help do some of that building and infrastructure,” said Brenda Juarez, President of Loleta Community Chamber. “But this report helps feed into that grant.”

The Redwood Community Action Agency the RCAA, joined Humboldt County Supervisors, Public Works, and Loleta community leaders on the walk.

“This morning with supervisor, Natalie Arroyo, as well as Rex Bohn, was really looking at that from the perspective of what the county can support and the ways of functioning in our area,” said Thomas Nicholson Stratton, Vice President of Loleta Community Chamber. “Which is, incorporated Loleta, as well as what that means for the Great Redwood Trail.”

These efforts aim to create safer walking routes to downtown Loleta and the elementary school. That could include crosswalk improvements and traffic calming areas but the recommendations aren’t prepared yet.  

“It’s really important to work towards these improvements here in Loleta because we haven’t been paid attention to in some time,” Nicholson Stratton said. “There hasn’t been a lot of activity transpiring and when there’s not activity, there’s deferred maintenance issues and things start to deteriorate faster.”

The next step is collaborating with stakeholders to prepare a complete report. Loleta learned about the UC Berkley program on the day the applications were due. They worked on the application knowing how tight of a deadline they had and the uncertainty of being admitted now, they’re one of 16 communities in the program this year.