David Schorow

One way Western Wheelers works for the cycling community is by donating money to organizations advocating for cyclists. Two of our largest such donations go to Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition (SVBC) and Walk-Bike Cupertino (WBC). I recently had the opportunity to meet with Shiloh Ballard, Executive Director of SVBC and Larry Dean, head of Walk-Bike Cupertino, and to learn more about these groups.

Shiloh provided interesting information about SVBC. Its mission is two fold:

1.   Sponsoring classes and other forms of safety training targeting kids and adults;

2.   Advocacy – working with cities and other agencies to lobby for road work that makes cycling safer, thus encouraging people to use bikes instead of cars for commuting, errands, etc.

Cycling safety is key to their overarching goal to have 10% of all trips be taken by bike by 2025. They have an initiative called Vision Zero whose goal is to have zero deaths or life-altering injuries due to roadway design or user error in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties (also the Western Wheelers territory). SVBC staff members Emma Shlaes and John Cordes respectively, focus on each county.

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Shiloh Ballard, Director SVBC

Shiloh believes that proper road design is paramount for improving cycling safety. She prefers not to call bike crashes “accidents,” as that suggests theyare random acts rather than being preventable with proper design and education.

SVBC works with CalTrans, other transportation agencies, and BPACs (Bicycling and Pedestrian Advisory Committees) to insure the interests of bicyclists are considered, and to recommend bicycle infrastructure improvements. Much of their focus is on improving the routes that connect our communities and making freeway crossings safer. Current campaigns include:

  • El Camino Real Bikeways – making the most direct North-South corridor bike friendly;
  • East Palo Alto Highway 101/University bicycle and pedestrian bridge;
  • Page Mill/Highway 280 bike friendly intersection redesign;
  • Redwood City Woodside/101 interchange;
  • Dumbarton Rail Corridor trail – ensure bicycle capability in the Dumbarton corridor;
  • Santa Clara San Tomas Creek Trail at Levi’s Stadium gameday access.

One of their past successful campaigns familiar to WW members addressed the dangerous Alpine Road underpass under 280, once the location of a fatal cyclist – truck collision. They successfully worked to get the bike lanes clearly marked with bright green dye and outlined with striped white buffers, which established clear and safe routes for cyclists and motorists through the underpass.

By comparison, Walk-Bike Cupertino’s focus is much more narrowly defined, both geographically and in scope. Their mission is to identify and support safe and easy bicycling and walking routes for the community of Cupertino. Much of the motivation for their work is to have safe bike and pedestrian routes for kids to get to school.

Larry Dean was instrumental in founding Walk-Bike Cupertino (WBC) and continues to lead much of their work. Larry was the 2018 recipient of the the Western Wheelers Lefkowitz award. The Lefkowitz award is a yearly award established to recognize service by an individual or organization benefiting cycling in the Bay Area.

A key project for Larry and WBC is the Regnart Creek trail. This proposed

one mile walk/bike path follows Regnart Creek, from Creekside Park in Cupertino, past the Civic Center and library, and out to Torre Avenue. This route is useful for many kids to get to/from local schools and provides a pleasant way for locals to walk to Wilson or Creekside parks. While most of the community strongly supports the plan, some vocal opposition comes from a small set of homeowners whose properties back up to the trail. I urge all Cupertino WW residents to support this project.

More generally, WBC works with Cupertino to increase the budget for Bike/Ped projects. Prior to WBC founding in 2014, Cupertino’s budget was $0 for Bike/Ped projects. With WBC encouragement, Bike/Ped projects budget grew steadily, reaching $2 million in fiscal 2016-17. Other projects promoted by WBC include:

  • A bike/ped safety training program for CUSD students;
  • New signage and “sharrows” on McLelland Road from MVHS to Foothill;
  • Green bike lanes on Stevens Creek Boulevard from DeAnza to Foothill;
  • Collaboration with Cupertino Rotary to fund a bike repair station at DeAnza College;
  • Improved green bike lanes and intersection at Stelling/McClellan Road.

A simple way for Western Wheelers to get involved is by reporting on road problems they encounter. It’s easy to just grumble about a problem every time you ride by it, but with a bit more effort, you can report it to the appropriate agency. SVBC has a Report a Hazard page giving phone numbers and online locations for the government agencies (cities, counties, Caltrans) to report such problems.

Ample opportunities abound for deeper involvement with cycling issues through participation in BPACs and other advocacy mechanisms. If you are involved in some ongoing issue or advocacy effort, please let me know (email is preferred). I will use a future column to report on advocacy efforts done directly by club members, including that of John Langbein, our club Advocacy Chair.

March Safety Tip – Point Out Hazards

On a recent WW group ride, there was a rock in the bike lane on foothill. Most people went around it, but a cyclist near the back of the group hit it directly, getting quite a jolt. Luckily, he managed to not crash, but did get a pinch flat. On a LDT ride a while back, a large pack of riders were entering onto a bike path, with a pole in the middle of the entrance. One cyclist later reported “this pole suddenly came at me and knocked me down.” Unfortunately, this cyclist sustained some minor injuries that kept him off the bike for a few weeks. Both of these incidents might have been averted with proper communication.

Communication is very important when bicycling in a group. When you see a hazard ahead or a car coming up behind (or in front on a narrow road) please communicate that to your riding partners. Usually a verbal signal is best such as “car up” or “rock” or “gravel.” At other times pointing out a hazard with a hand signal is best (remember that when biking we always point at the hazard). The important thing is COMMUNICATE!