The city of Santa Clara will hY consider bike lanes for the 1.5 mile portion of Tasman Drive within city limits between the Guadalupe River and Calabasas Creek. A consultant will study traffic on Tasman and propose ways to reconfigure the lanes on Tasman to make room for bike lanes. The green line below shows the study area.
Tasman Drive is a major east-west roadway and designated bike route across the north end of the city of Santa Clara roughly halfway between Highway 237 and U.S. 101. In Santa Clara, Tasman Drive provides access to the Great America amusement park, the Santa Clara Convention Center, and several outdoor sport facilities. The new 49ers football stadium is under construction across the road from the convention center. Tasman Road is also an important feeder to growing employment and residential traffic along North First Street in adjacent San Jose.
Between the Sunnyvale city limits and Great America Parkway, Tasman is a four lane divided road serving 13,000 vehicles per day. Tasman becomes a six lane divided road serving 17,000 vehicles per day east of Great America Parkway. According to traffic modeling formulas used by Caltrans, the four lane portion of Tasman has a capacity double the current traffic, while the six lane portion can handle over 46,000 vehicles per day. The speed limit for all of Tasman within Santa Clara is 40 MPH and it operates at “C” Level of Service.
The question the city of Santa Clara asks: Where can they put the bike lanes without widening the existing right-of-way?
View Larger Map
For the six-lane portion of Tasman (shown above with a bonus left turn lane added), the answer is easy — convert the entire right lane to a bike lane and you still have enough spare capacity for free flowing traffic. You might even be able to squeeze in a half mile of street parking or tour bus pullouts along here.
For the four lane portion of Tasman (shown below), the answer might be a little trickier. and there’s probably no way to give this part of Tasman a road diet without reducing capacity. This is why the city will pay a consultant the big bucks — $56,500 — to try to come up with three alternative road configurations of their own.
View Larger Map
The Santa Clara city council has made some bold decisions recently regarding bike and transit access. They apparently feel somewhat obligated to improve the bike accessibility of Tasman Drive — this is, after all, a designated bike route in both the city and county bikeways plan. The bid, however, makes the usual tail-wagging-the-dog assumptions about traffic impacts and projected volumes that mostly ignores any mode of travel that doesn’t involve the infamous single occupant motor vehicle in spite of state and regional policies stating a need to reduce traffic levels for various reasons.
The 49ers are helping to pay for this study, and they’re a major stakeholder for this project. About 21,000 parking spaces will be accessible from Great America Parkway (it’s the main Great America lot), while a big chunk of the remaining parking will be built off of Tasman Drive. Will the 49ers be okay with a lane reduction on Tasman?
Time will tell. The engineering consultant Kimley-Horn and Associates has four months to complete the design of their proposals and obtain CEQA clearance for bike lanes on Tasman, so watch for public hearings beginning something in August or September.
Thank you to Mike Rosenburg at the Mercury-News for research help. He writes about the city’s $56,500 contract with Kimley-Horn. You can find the full bid details here. I use traffic count data from 2008; employment and traffic are higher today. The Kimley-Horn study will gather up-to-date numbers.