The Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is working on a project to make Homestead Road safer for student cyclists and pedestrians. Car traffic dominates the corridor, which is a major route for students attending Homestead High, Cupertino Middle, and West Valley Elementary. The intense car traffic combined with minimal bike and pedestrian infrastructure make biking and walking to school treacherous and discourage many students from going to school car-free. As a result, bike ridership to Homestead has declined markedly over the past few years.

Although the VTA design has some desirable elements, it fails to address some of the most problematic areas on Homestead Road.  Two of these areas are the Foothill/Grant/Vineyard intersection (near the Foothill Trader Joe’s) and the Kennewick Bike Route (across from Homestead High School). 

Foothill/Grant/Vineyard Intersection

The Foothill/Grant/Vineyard intersection is arguably the most dangerous location on the route to school for students cycling from Los Altos. The intersection is designed for cars to move through it fast, disregarding cyclist and pedestrian safety. The intersection design does not give priority or protection to cyclists. Unfortunately, as shown in figures 1 and 2, the VTA updates do not address the conflicts between cars and cyclist paths. 

Figure 1: Travel from Grant Road

Bike routes are in yellow, and car routes are shown in red. Students travel on Grant Road to Homestead Road heading east. HHS cyclists ride on the south side of Homestead Road, conflicting with cars at four locations, with cars having priority. CMS cyclists ride on the north side of Homestead Road in the bike lane or on the sidewalk, counter to car traffic until reaching the shared use path (Note: riding in the bike lane counter to car traffic is illegal.)

Figure 2: Travel from Vineyard

Bike routes are in yellow, and car routes are shown in red. Some CMS students cross to the left side of Vineyard, then cross Foothill Expy, and continue onto the bike lane on the north side of Homestead Road, counter to car flow. (Note: riding in the bike lane counter to car traffic is illegal.) There are again four conflict zones when traveling in this direction. Exacerbating conflicts is the turning traffic from numerous side streets onto Homestead Road.

To eliminate these conflicts, the intersection would likely need to be completely redesigned, but instead VTA is making minor modifications and not tackling the main problem. Conflicts could also be reduced by extending the current shared use path along Homestead until it reaches the Foothill/Grant intersection (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Two-way bike lane (green) and areas where it is still needed (orange)

What can you do to help?

Tell VTA that more needs to be done for student cyclist safety on Homestead Road. VTA is taking input until May 31, 2024. Click here to send your comments to the VTA Project Manager, Hassan Basma.

Features to ask for:

  • Extend the current shared use path along Homestead until it reaches the Foothill/Grant intersection.
  • Add traffic light bike prioritization over cars.  Program traffic lights to immediately turn green when a bike is detected, whether with a sensor or bike accessible push button.
  • Implement a scramble phase for bikes and pedestrians at heavy traffic intersections. Install bike-specific traffic lights at intersections and eliminate “Right Turn On Red” and free right turn lanes. 
  • Install protected intersections and protected bike lanes whenever feasible. These can be created with flexible bollards.

Don’t forget to sign your name and add a personal comment!

(Want more specifics? Click here!)

Kennewick Drive to Homestead High

A second problematic area that the VTA design does not address is the Kennewick Bike Route, defined as the route from the Kennewick Drive/Homestead Road intersection to the main HHS bike racks on campus. Mark Hlady, mountain biking coach for area middle and high schoolers and former HHS parent, calls the Kennewick Bike Route the “black diamond of bike routes.”  Cars conflict with student cyclists and pedestrians on a daily basis. Here’s a video of a car hitting a student cyclist and pushing him into the car lane on Homestead Road. Here’s a video of student cyclists and pedestrians conflicting with cars while crossing the Kennewick intersection.

Figure 4: Travel from Kennewick to HHS

Bike routes are in yellow, and car routes are shown in red. There are many conflict areas between cars and cyclists. Some cyclists ride on the sidewalk in front of HHS, others in the bike lane against traffic due to pedestrian conflicts on the sidewalk. Cyclists and vehicles turning or going straight have conflicts at all the crosswalks at the Kennewick/ Homestead intersection. Note that riding on the sidewalk is illegal over the age of 12, and riding in the bike lane counter to traffic is always illegal.

Details on what’s needed

IBelow is a comprehensive list of recommended changes at key points along the corridor that will improve the safety for our students. 

Foothill/Grant Road/Homestead Intersection

  • Install a scramble phase for bikes and pedestrians to cross Foothill while cars remain still. 
  • Install traffic lights to stop car traffic between Grant and Homestead when bikes are present. 
  • Use bike-only traffic lights to allow bikes to proceed while cars remain still.
  • Remove the car speed lane from northbound Foothill to eastbound Homestead so that turning cars are controlled by a traffic light and the conflict with cyclists is removed. 
  • Disallow right turn on red at all corners of the intersection.
  • Restrict car movement into and out of side streets by disallowing left turns for Grant and El Sereno. Or, close off the side streets to car passage altogether. 
  • Reduce the four driveways in the Trader Joe’s shopping complex to one. Regulate that driveway with a traffic signal. 
  • Extend the shared use path westward, to cover the intersection and beyond.  Ironically, where bicycle safety infrastructure matters the most, i.e. at intersections, it disappears.
  • Alternatively, replace this monster intersection with a Turbo Roundabout, which has been proven to reduce cyclist and pedestrian fatalities by 50%. The Turbo Roundabout would serve as a central hub for Foothill, Homestead, Grant, Vineyard, and El Sereno to come together.

Kennewick Drive Bike Route

  • Ask that a shared use path on the south side of Homestead between Kennewick and the middle HHS driveway be added to the VTA Project.
  • Ask that the student parking lot exit be closed. Correspondingly, convert the entrance to a 2-way driveway.
  • Ask for a scramble phase at the Kennewick/Homestead Road intersection.

Other locations along Homestead

    • Extend the planned 2-way cycle track on the north side of Homestead Road to the Bernardo intersection, where cyclists can cross Homestead Road at a controlled intersection. Currently, the design stops 100’ west of Bernardo, leaving cyclists who want to continue east on Homestead Road with nowhere to go.
    • On the east side of Bernardo, add vertical protection to the planned buffered bike lane. Currently, cars park on the right side of the road where “No Parking Allowed” is posted. No doubt, cars will continue to park there even after bike lanes are painted in, so vertical barriers are needed to prevent cars from encroaching in the bike lane.
    • At the SR 85 on-ramp, remove the right turn car lane. Instead, have the car lane proceed straight, to the left of the bike lane. Install a bike-only traffic light and a car right turn traffic light to separate bike and car traffic. 
    • Install protected bike lanes along all of Homestead Road from Foothill to Hollenbeck. The VTA design has unprotected bike lanes east of Bernardo; they need to be protected.

For background on the VTA Homestead Road Safe Routes To School Project, see VTA’s initial design presentation, the associated concept design layout, and the 2019 Homestead Road SRTS Final Report which informs the design.

Sharlene Liu is a commissioner on the Sunnyvale Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission and part of the Cupertino Safe Routes to School Working Group.