Sunnyvale pursues campaign to eliminate deadly traffic accidents
Through Vision Zero, a global campaign that aims make the streets safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, Sunnyvale, already one of the safest cities in the South Bay, will try to make serious injury and deadly crashes a thing of the past.
With nearly 100 pedestrian and bicycle accidents — including more than 20 that were fatal — over the past six years, the city is set to join San Francisco, Fremont and San Jose in an ambitious safety campaign.
The initiative, dubbed Vision Zero, aims to make the streets safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. The city is asking residents to weigh in at a community workshop on Wednesday.
According to a city report, there were 24 serious-injury and fatality crashes in the city in 2016 — 10 more than in 2015. Even so, Sunnyvale is considered one of the safest cities in the area to drive, walk or ride a bike. Out of 17 similarly sized cities in the state, only four had better collision rates than Sunnyvale, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety. But they were suburban or rural cities with fewer vehicle miles traveled.
“At the end of the day, even one fatality is too many,” said Jennifer Garnett, a spokeswoman for the city. “We’re on a path to reduce fatalities and serious injuries, but it takes a combination of solutions to achieve something like that.”
Last year, the city set aside $150,000 for a comprehensive assessment of the city’s current conditions along with a plan to mitigate areas of concern, said Shahid Abbas, Sunnyvale’s traffic and transportation manager.
Their research showed that the most dangerous roads in Sunnyvale — where most of the injuries and fatalities occurred — include El Camino Real, Mathilda Avenue, Fremont Avenue, Wolfe Road, Homestead Road and Mary Avenue.
To improve safety on those roads, the city is considering retiming traffic signals, installing high visibility crosswalks, and adding green bike lanes and midblock pedestrian crossings, Abbas said.
One project, for example, aims to redesign the intersection of Mathilda and Indio avenues. Another will attempt to reconfigure a two-mile section of Mary Avenue that would include installing bike lanes and possibly a buffer lane. Also a priority is the state Highway 237 and Mathilda Avenue and Highway 101 and Mathilda Avenue interchanges, considered among the Bay Area’s most congested interchange complexes.
“This is a top priority, not only for Sunnyvale, but for VTA and Caltrans,” said Abbas, adding that the improvements will entail rebuilding the section to reduce congestion.
The Vision Zero plan is scheduled to go before the city council for approval this summer. Until then, the Vision Zero team will continue soliciting input from residents online and through workshops. The next opportunity to weigh in will take place 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Sunnyvale Public Library, 665 W. Olive Ave.
Residents are also encouraged to take a survey on the city’s website that identifies 10 areas for the Vision Zero plan along with proposed safety measures. That survey is available at https://sunnyvale.peakdemocracy.com/portals/209/forum_home.