Cupertino Bike Infrastructure on the Move  (By Pete Heller, chair Bicycle Pedestrian Commission)


blog_08_22_2015Unless you’ve been out of town or bedridden by now you’ve seen the extensive growth in green bike lane markings around the city. In case you’ve wondered, there is a rhyme and reason for their placement: top priority was given to roads leading to and surrounding Cupertino’s schools. The intent is to further increase drivers awareness and attention to the bike lanes, particularly where youngsters are riding to and from school. Thanks for this are due to the City Council. They unanimously approved over $1M in funding for this as directed by Bicycle Pedestrian Commission’s 2015 Bicycle Plan update.

While this is a tremendous advancement, it is really only a down payment on where the BikePed Commission intends to lead the city. Let me take this opportunity to update you on what the BikePed commission has been devising regarding cycling infrastructure planning and investment prioritization.

At the July 15 BikePed Commission meeting we adopted a 10 year mission for bicycling and bike infrastructure including measurable objectives. This is important for two reasons:

1. The official Cupertino Bicycle plan will be updated in 2016. This document will be informed by the mission statement.

2. To assist the BikePed commission the city council approved funding for a consulting firm to produce the bicycle plan. Their work will also be guided by the long term vision.

BikePed Commission Priorities

The focus of the 2016 bike plan will be on commutes.  The city has the most ability to impact such commutes and they provide the greatest payback in terms of increased cycling.  That’s consistent with research that people rarely consider riding commutes of 9 miles or more.  Therefore, we want to focus on shorter trips that are more feasible by bike.

Regarding priorities the BikePed Commission continues to put first priority on getting kids to and from school.  This makes sense because the great majority of kids live within just a few miles of school. I.e., the distances are small enough for it to work logistically and parents are motivated to avoid sitting in traffic jams twice a day.  The key to significantly increasing kid commutes is passing what I call the “Mom test”.  Mom’s have to believe that riding is safe to promote cycling with their kids.  Achieving a significant increase in ridership will require physical separation between cars and bikes.

Fortunately the timing for this is excellent. That’s because California recently passed legislation creating the new Class IV Bikeways (see my other article on this topic).  The BikePed Commission is quite aware that making these improvements will require significant investment. We are looking heartened by the City Council’s strong endorsement and encouragement. We also look forward to working the consultant to devise more detailed proposals. We will also hold outreach meetings with the community to review the plans as they develop.

Our second priority is to expand bike/ped as choice of transportation for adults and seniors for errands, leisure and local work commutes. In particular with Apple’s big new campus coming on line in 2016 there will be many more people that will fall within distances to make such commutes viable.

There are a variety of reasons for this including:

  • encouraging healthier life styles
  • increasing sense of community with more face to face interactions
  • better caring for our environment (e.g., reduced pollution, reduced greenhouse gases)
  • enabling population growth without concomitant growth in auto infrastructure.

Bicycle Pedestrian Mission Statement and Objectives by End 2025

  1. Be one of the top 5 cities in California for biking and walking and achieve Gold status from the League of American Bicyclists.
  1. Expand middle and high school student bicycle and pedestrian trips to 40% of total school commutes.
  2. Expand intra-city trips for errands and leisure by adults and seniors via bicycle/walking to 20% of trips.
  3. Expand resident bicycle/pedestrian commuting to major Cupertino employers and De Anza College to 15% of total trips.

Items 2, 3 and 4 will be measured by bicycle/pedestrian vs. auto-trips.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback on these directions and on the 10 year mission statement.