By Pete Heller, Chair Cupertino Bicycle Pedestrian Commission, December 25, 2016
Let me start with a bold statement
2016 will be the year to start making major advances in bicycle infrastructure and safety in Cupertino. The community is coalescing behind consistent views of what is needed. Please help to keep up the momentum.
Why is that? What has changed since my previous report in August
The last few months have been productive for cycling in Cupertino. Significant events included:
- The Bicycle Pedestrian Commission unanimously adopted a mission statement. It’s focus is on dramatically increasing intra-city bicycle trips for students, adults, seniors and families. Please see the Commission’s web page for details. This laid a solid foundation for the upcoming 2016 Bicycle Plan update due in May 2016.
- The city hired Alta Planning, a respected consulting firm, to assist in developing the 2016 bike plan.
- Two community input meetings were held and both were well attended. Encouragingly, both meetings provided consistent feedback (see details below).
- Caltrans will complete the design standards for Class IV protected bikeways by end of year. Class IV is a new designation that provides for physical separation of autos from bicycles. This is important because it will enable Cupertino to employ Class IV bikeways with the blessing of Caltrans.
- Awareness has grown among residents that major development projects including Apple Campus 2 and the Hills are going to greatly increase auto traffic in the city. New mitigation strategies will be necessary to avoid the already heavy congestion during commute hours turning into gridlock.
- The Steven Creek Trail Joint Cities Working Team returned their report. It identified options for bringing the trail to/through Cupertino. However, the report completely avoided making any recommendations.
What does this all add up to?
Cupertino’s resident and day worker population will grow significantly in the next decade but the streets will not. Residents and workers have a vested interest in avoiding gridlock on Cupertino’s streets. That means attention is focused on how to move more people but do so without a concomitant increase in auto traffic. A key piece of the answer will be to make cycling an attractive and safe alternative to driving. This is the formula that is being successfully employed in cities such as Portland and Austin. Doing so will enable the fixed roadway space to carry more people around town.
What were the takeaways from the community input meetings?
On 1-Dec a community input meeting was held to gather feedback on the 2016 bike plan. See Gary Jones’ report for more details. Then on 15-Dec another community input meeting was held focusing on the Stevens Creek Trail.
The two meetings made clear that there’s unequivocal community support to:
- Create an attractive and safe bicycle network on key city arteries. That will include improving Stevens Creek, Wolfe, Foothill, Mary and McClellan as truly bike friendly routes, ideally with Class IV protected bikeways. That’ll provide access to and between Apple campuses and other workplaces, schools and shopping.
- Increase usage of existing Class 1 infrastructure such as the Don Burnett Bridge. That will be accomplished by improving the bike friendliness of the connecting routes.
- Increase the number of Class 1 bike routes for getting kids to school and for recreational purposes. For example adding a Class I bike path alongside the Union Pacific tracks would provide an outstanding asset for north-south travel. (This will require the City Council to negotiate with Union Pacific and perhaps buy land from them.)
- Enlarge/improve smaller roads such as Rainbow to get kids to/from schools.
I intend to push for these items to be called out as key priorities in the Bicycle Pedestrian Commission’s 2016 bike plan. Of course there’s much more that’s needed in the plan as well.
Call to Action
All this will require political will and significant funding. That’s where you come in! The time has come to kick off a letter writing campaign to the city council members. The key points to convey are:
- The city council needs to plan for mitigating the increased traffic that will be generated by the major new projects coming to Cupertino such as Apple Campus 2, The Hills and Downtown Cupertino.
- In tandem the council needs to plan for getting an increasing number of kids to and from schools twice per day.
- Providing attractive and safe bicycle infrastructure is a key mitigation strategy. That will include Class IV protected bikeways on major city arteries and Class I bikeways such as along the railroad tracks. That will get more kids, adults and seniors out of cars thus reducing congestion, greenhouse gas production and pollution in the city. It also will improve residents and workers fitness and wellbeing via increased exercise.
- Accomplishing the above will need funding and support. We are asking the City Council to approve and fund the upcoming 2016 Bicycle Plan which will be delivered in May.