1. What do you think of the 2016 Cupertino Bike Plan?
Several years ago, we were making slow progress on a plan that was not particularly ambitious. I’m very grateful to bike advocates in the community – parents, students, recreational cyclists, commuters – for helping educate residents on the benefits of safer bikeways on relieving congestion around schools and encouraging people to get out biking. Early in 2015, I accepted the Mayor’s Challenge issued by US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx to improve mobility. At the end of 2015, we were one of 3 cities in the entire country recognized as most improved, by studying 5 years of accident data and adding 3 miles of green paint, 5 miles of buffers, and 138 sharrows to our roadways at the most vital locations. I had an opportunity to share our process and results at a national conference on smart cities to encourage other cities.
Your advocacy also helped create the political will to initiate a major study in early 2015 culminating with adoption of the 2016 Cupertino Bike Plan by the City Council this June. It is perhaps the most ambitious bike plan in the country for a city our size, with protected Class IV bike lanes per latest Federal guidelines, separated bikeways, and bike boulevards in multiple north-south and east-west connections throughout the City. I’m delighted with the result and count it among our best city initiatives of the last few years.
2. The Plan’s Tier I projects total $15M. Do you support funding these projects over the next 5 years?
Just after adoption, the Council jumpstarted implementation of the plan with $2 million in funding in 2016-17, setting first priority on the corridor that will connect Monta Vista High, Lincoln Elementary, DeAnza College, the library and Cupertino High, and the corridor along the creek just south of 280. I support continuing generous funding of the plan over the next few years, and am eager to get feedback on usage as we go. While I expect we will learn and make some adjustments, the important thing is to build the network out broadly across the city to ensure all neighborhoods, schools and retail destinations are effectively linked.
3. How do you rate Bike/Ped improvements versus street improvements/maintenance?
My view, informed by experts, is that these go hand-in-hand. Our roadways need periodic maintenance, and when they do, adding bicycle and pedestrian improvements at the same time can be done at reduced total lifecycle cost. Grants from various agencies that match our dollars encourage us to build complete streets, which recognizes safe access for all users, particularly cyclists and pedestrians, and not just cars.
4. If residents oppose specific plan enhancements in their neighborhood, will you still support the bike plan’s features and intents?
I am hoping that the plan’s numerous routes north and south, and east and west, will help relieve anxiety that could come if all bike traffic were concentrated in a very few routes. I am counting on advocates to continue to help educate and advocate so that residents see the value of bike lanes that pass by their homes. I recognize it will not be easy in every case, but am committed to working with you to implement the plan.
5. As a council member, what would you do to increase bike use for recreation and the community?
Building safer bikeways is key. And so is encouraging biking, starting at a young age. We opened a new position at the City for a Safe Routes to School coordinator, and were lucky to hire Chelsea Biklen to fill the role. We have had an intensive Safe Routes to School process underway for the last year with parent and school leaders to consider changes to infrastructure, education and programming, following a model that has yielded more students walking and biking to school in Palo Alto.
As one of two Air District (BAAQMD) Board Members representing the 15 cities of Santa Clara County, I also have the opportunity to bring grants and incentives for infrastructure such bike racks and replacement of older diesel trucks which encourage more biking and cleaner air.
a. Would you be willing to advocate for a trail along the UPRR tracks and/or on water district lands?
b. Would you be willing to budget funds to acquire right-of-ways for more trails in Cupertino?
6. Your closing comments.
Change to public infrastructure often comes with concerns by some; continued education and activism by the biking community is welcome and will be needed to ensuring implementation of the bike plan.