1. What do you think of the 2016 Cupertino Bike Plan?
The newly approved 2016 Cupertino Bicycle Transportation Plan is amazing in the breadth of its scope and objectives. Previous Bike Plans prioritized spot opportunities to improve bikeability around town, but did not attempt to provide a complete solution.
In contrast, the 2016 Bike Plan started with a citywide analysis of accidents and stress factors, then proposed a set of clean-sheet citywide networks that deliver comprehensive bike accessibility throughout town. These proposals utilize the latest techniques and design thinking, including separated Class IV bikeways, and modern intersection configurations.
This strong vision statement is a reference for future capital spending on bike projects as well as providing guidelines to make ongoing road and public works efforts more bicycle-friendly. Most importantly, the Plan’s proposals create the opportunity to have a more concrete public discussion about the pros and cons of the more impactful elements of the plan such as Class IV bikeways on Stevens Creek Blvd. Enabling an informed discussion is the best way to build public consensus and support for these changes.
I’m proud to have been personally involved through the entire public input and workshop/review process for the 2016 Bike Plan. In addition, I’ve worked to further the goals of the Bike Plan through my participation as a member of the Safe Routes 2 Schools Working Group, and as a Parks & Recreation Commissioner, working on projects including the Class I bikeways in the Stevens Creek Corridor Master Plan and the Stevens Creek Trail Joint Cities project.
2. The Plan’s Tier I projects total $15M. Do you support funding these projects over the next 5 years?
I support funding for the 2016 Bike Plan as approved by the Council, which prioritizes Tier I projects to commence over the next 5 years. I believe the capital project dollars from Cupertino may be lower than the total cost in the Plan, as elements may qualify for external grants.
The City’s investment in improved bike pathways is worthwhile investment in public safety and addresses infrastructure that had been receiving minimal updates for a long time, so I support strong funding here.
3. How do you rate Bike/Ped improvements versus street improvements/maintenance?
I believe that Public Works has done a good job trying to interleave improvements and maintenance where possible. A good example of this was to integrate major road resurfacing projects on the West side with the addition of green bike lanes. Outside of the major bike improvements (like Class IV lanes), the costs of bike/ped updates is modest relative to street work, so I don’t feel that these efforts are in competition.
Cupertino is largely built out, so there are minimal opportunities for new major road construction. In a world where a lot of new asphalt can’t be laid anyway, bike improvements offer the opportunity to promote sharing what we have.
4. If residents oppose specific plan enhancements in their neighborhood, will you still support the bike plan’s features and intents?
Building public support and consensus is important for any proposed project. It is natural for people to be unsure about change, and the high prices of homes rightfully make people wary of any potential impacts to their property value.
In that light, I would act to help people understand the effect of changes in a rational, fact-based way. In the joint Parks&Recreation and Bike/Ped Commission hearing that I chaired last year regarding the Stevens Creek Trail Joint Cities proposal, neighbors along a proposed path expressed resistance out of fear that a bike commute trail would bring crime, drug use, and decreased property values to their neighborhood. Studies both from outside the area and from nearby neighborhoods that have already added the Trail show that these concerns are unfounded. By showing leadership to make sure that resident concerns are truly heard and considered, I believe that some of the more emotionally-driven concerns can be dealt with and widespread support built.
Some elements of the proposals may raise very real concerns, such as re-designation of existing streetside parking into bikeway space. It’s important to have a meaningful public discussion of the options to find the best solutions which may involve modifying parking or the enhancement.
Finally, it’s important for the City to commit to monitoring and correcting any issues that may arise from a change. This has worked well with controversial projects in the past such as the Scenic Circle gate to Blackberry Farm, which has ended up as a positive change for all parties.
5. As a council member, what would you do to increase bike use for recreation and the community?
If elected, I would support implementation of the 2016 Bike Plan along with making sure that this is a living document that continues to get review, revision, and updates.
In addition to improving the bike infrastructure, I would support better public outreach around the work being done to implement the project and the benefits to the community from alternative/active transportation – health, reduction of greenhouse gas, and reduction of traffic (to be fair, Education is a significant element of the Bike Plan).
In a longer-term framework, I support modern urban planning principles redevelopment areas in Cupertino. This includes mixed-use, higher density, higher height, and access to mass- and alternative transit facilities. These design tenets promote walkability, bikeability, and alternative commutes, all of which promote future general bike use in the community.
a. Would you be willing to advocate for a trail along the UPRR tracks and/or on water district lands?
Yes, I believe that these have good potential as expansions to the Cupertino network. My experience with Union Pacific on the Parks & Recreation Commission is that they are slow to engage in discussion, but Saratoga has been successful with a trail on UPRR land just south of us. A Class I trail here would greatly improve bike safety and circulation in the area.
b. Would you be willing to budget funds to acquire right-of-ways for more trails in Cupertino?
Yes. Available land is scarce, but addition of parks, open space, and trails is a top request from the community. When the opportunities arise to add to recreational or bike commute space, we should seriously pursue them.
6. Your closing comments.
I think it’s important to emphasize that a comprehensive bike program like the 2016 Bike Plan is not just for the benefit of cyclists, but for all residents. Using a bike to get around town or commute to work may not be daily practice for many residents, but each rider that uses these new safe alternatives removes another car from our congested roads and benefits us all. As community advocates, we need to make this widely known to build a base of support for bike enhancements and so that these (sometimes expensive) changes are not seen as “for somebody else”.
I salute the City Council, Bike/Ped Commission, city staff, and community for making the 2016 Bicycle Transportation Plan possible on its wide-ranging scope. This truly lays out a vision on a large scale for alternative options for local and commute traffic in the future. It’s unfortunate that this motion was spurred in part by the accidental death of cyclist Ethan Wong, but this tragedy will have the effect of making Cupertino a safer place for all. I’m glad to have had an opportunity to participate in the process as an involved resident, and, if elected, I will continue to work to make the Plan a reality.