There’s a pre-season football game between the Santa Clara 49ers and …. somebody else coming up on Sunday. This is the first football game in the new Levi’s Stadium at the north end of Santa Clara, CA. I’ve updated the Levi’s Stadium bike directions page to reflect the experiences of those who attended the inaugural stadium event in which the San Jose Earthquakes defeated the Sounders the other week.
I also received replies in response to the concerns I outlined about bicycle access from the Santa Clara Bicycle Advisory Committee and from Levi’s Stadium officials.
To wit, a summary of my concerns and the responses I received from Levi’s Stadium operations:
- Trail closure surprises: “We are currently planning on placing permanent signage at the trail which will identify which days the trail will be closed.”
- Trail detour: “We apologize for the inconvenience. Moving forward the staff will have a map which will detail the detour, so they can distribute.”
- No bike parking at Red Lots 1 and 6: (This turned out to be partially incorrect, though that was due to information provided by stadium ushers): ” There was available bicycle parking in Red Lot 1; you are correct Red Lot 6 was not set up for bike parking.There will be bike parking in Red Lot 6 moving forward (golf course by David’s). Also this parking will be available for NFL and Non NFL events.”
- Staff did not know location of bike parking, bike detours, etc: “We are sorry to hear and will make sure that all staff are aware moving forward. We appreciate your input.”
- Insufficient bike parking: (My bad, again due to information provided by stadium ushers on the game day) “I am not quite sure about the above, as the Red Lot 1 accommodates 750 bikes plus it was not filled to capacity. We will keep an eye on this.”
I’m told these stadium issues will be on the Santa Clara Bicycle Advisory Committee agenda for next Wednesday, August 20, 2014, though as of this writing the agenda is not available online. The BAC members I’ve spoken with are concerned about the issues as well.
For the updated bike access information for Levi’s stadium, please click here.
Absurd that they’re closing the trail all the way to Agnews. That’s my primary approach. Was this part of the planning process, or something random afterwards? The Niners are a commercial enterprise and do not own the public trail.
Saw the trail closure mentioned today in one of the stories about the changes since the Earthquakes game…it must have been part of the plan as its is part of the NFL security rules to have a certain amount of clear space around the stadium.
The trail runs between the security gates (metal detectors and “no re-entry” signs) and the stadium itself. Were that section open during an event, riders would pass through throngs of pedestrians waiting to get in or out. Few of these people would expect traffic on the trail, and it’s likely that some might respond rudely to it. I notice this sort of thing during the small events, such as tonight, when there are not enough visitors to close the trail. The trail was open, but I rode slowly, because of the extra foot traffic and stadium personnel on the trail.
Given that the Agnew and the golf course are the nearest access points to the trail from there, any through traffic is going to have to bypass that entire section if any of it is closed. I don’t know if it will someday make sense to let game attendees use the adjacent parts of the trail for pedestrian or bike access to the stadium.
For detours, the best choice is probably still the one that was used during construction: Agnew, Lakeshore, parking lot, Stars&Stripes (marked in purple on the bike directions page map). It adds about half a mile, but is likely to have less traffic than Lafayette or Great America Parkway. They’ve re-striped the green lanes through the train station/soccer park parking lot in the last month, and they’ve added a bike lane on Stars&Stripes, where there was none before. Stars&Stripes is off limits for event parking. I’m not sure if there will be event parking in the parking lot.
The problem I have with the closure is that this was not mentioned in the EIR. From the looks of the construction I would say that this was the plan all along but we were fed a bill of goods. (Same issue with the miscount of parking spaces so they could take over the soccer fields….) The EIR shows people taking the trail to the game from parking to the south. Levi Stadium is effectively shutting down the trail for over 20% of prime weekend use for the benefit of people who can afford to go to a game at the expense of everyone who lives in Santa Clara and the surrounding communities.Just wait for the Super Bowl when the NFL will want that trail closed for a week.
The solution is to have bridges cross over the trail and not take the public right of way.
Excellent comments! I did not know the metal detectors were on the other side of the trail and I did not know the EIR showed usage of the trail. I don’t have time to pursue this, but something sure smells funny about a private sports team having an erroneous EIR and closing a (cycling and pedestrian) transportation route at the time of maximum need.
Digging deeper…Richard mentioned in Feb that the trail will be closed. http://www.cyclelicio.us/2014/santa-clara-levis-stadium-bicycle-plan/ I didn’t find a final EIR either. On Draft EIR page 201 it mentions pedestrians to/from the south using the trail, and no mention of closure! http://santaclaraca.gov/ftp/csc/pdf/49er-stadium-DEIR/49er-Stadium-DEIR-Text.pdf Yes, a bridge or tunnel would be the appropriate solution.
Final EIR, November 2009 http://santaclaraca.gov/ftp/csc/pdf/49er-stadium-FEIR/49ers-feir.pdf Pages 120 and 141: “While there will likely be a sizeable increase in pedestrians on the creek trail before and after
NFL events, the creek trail is open to both pedestrians and cyclists and there are no restrictions on use. Anyone at anytime can access and use the trail.” Would be nice to know WTH happened since then. If the 49ers failed to consider a security zone, I’m quite sure we can agree who should pay for a tunnel or bridge.
The San Tomas Aquino Trail will be closed …“to ensure the integrity of the stadium’s security perimeter”.
Baloney. The trail is on the other side of the creek from the stadium.
I don’t have a problem dealing with the pedestrian traffic before and after the game, but I do have a problem riding on the nearby roads with all the people driving who’ve had a few beers at (or before) the game.
I think we need some critical mass style rallies to demonstrate the problems.any cyclists will be injured following the unsafe detour so I have ok problem making their poorly thought out plans worse with some folks on bikes.
Before we show our “Angry Cyclist” side, I think it makes sense find out WTH happened since the 2009 EIR. An honest error or some little “white lies” to get the building permit should result in accountability (and funding for a bridge or tunnel). Perhaps Richard knows since he blogged about the closure back in February.
Let’s not do a critical mass before trying to solve this a civil way. I met Marianne Favro (KNTV) after the game today and gave her the 411 on the issues. (Bike Parking, Detour through neighborhood etc…)
One of the other major issues is that even 3 hours after the ‘game’ on 8/17 (everyone except stadium workers was gone) 6:30pm the San Tomas Aquino creek trail was still blocked off under Tasman forcing trail users (there were quite a few) to cross Light Rail Tracks. Kids on bicycles included. There is no info on specific times the Trail is closed (I still find the closure from Agnew unacceptable)
I urge everyone concerned to show up Tuesday 8/19 @ 7 p.m. The Stadium Authority, City Council, Sports & Open Space Authority, and Housing Authority meetings, in Council Chambers at City Hall, 1500 Warburton Avenue.
Agenta is here:
I think what happened was the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. That attack prompted large event organizers everywhere to tighten things up with “security perimeters” and so forth.
The closure back to Agnew does not even show up in the 2013 Traffic Management and Operations Plan (TMOP). Instead they show that trail use is allowed up to just south of the stadium, with a diversion through the Great America parking lot to the west. See picture on page 104, and text on page 95.
The final TMOP was due this Summer 2014, but I could not find it. I would hope that there would be some public comment process allowed for the TMOP. I’m not sure why it would not fall under CEQA. It looks like they implemented an undocumented traffic plan that never came up for public review, with the intention of having the review occur after the practices were already in place for some time. I wouldn’t exactly call that an open planning process.
>I think what happened was the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. That attack prompted large event organizers everywhere to tighten things up with “security perimeters” and so forth.
I am sorry but I don’t buy this as a valid reason considering the TMOP from the city of Santa Clara Was posted on 6.3.2013 and the Boston Marathon events happened in 4.15.2013. Furthermore I fail to see how the “security perimeter” bordering Tasman & North Side of the creek trail is so small comparing to closing 0.7 mile worth of trail going southbound?
If they actually paved a path to the great america parking lot as in the plan on Page 97 (104 actual) they would have 200 meters to Gate C matching the current closure on the north side to Gate A.
The current layout forces bicyclists coming events at the Stadium from the south:
1)to ride on residential steets without a Traffic Signal at Agnew and Lakeshore
2)ride on Stars & Stripes Drive past the Amtrak Stadium Traffic
3)past the traffic going into VIP & Yellow Lots,
4)Cross the lightrail & associated foot traffic.
To finally maybe make into the Blue Bicycle LOT near RED lot 1 you indicated.
Tell me how many people with KIDS do you think will choose this method of transit to the stadium?
I agree the Boston Marathon issue should not cause anything except a possible short-term “emergency” closure, followed by rewriting the paperwork and opening-up a transparent process (if a permanent change is desired). Again, the “who, when, and why” are the starting point to question the validity of the current situation…
Richard, I am three counties away from the stadium, so not much interested in cycling there, but I was very interested in those bicycle racks that the stadium is using. I couldn’t get enough resolution on the display to read the label. Can you help with that?
Tom Horne, Novato CA
(I often help out with bike parking for Marin County Bicycle Coalition)
The broader question here is that should entities be allowed to routinely close a bikeway for non-emergencies without any public review and comment process. The closer from Agnew to ~Hetch Hetchy (37.400469,-121.970403) was not in the TMOP and no review process was ever allowed, as it was for the Tasman closure. Since VMT now applies to the stadium CEQA implementation over LOS, it would seem the bikeway closure and now closer of the draft TMOP diversion through the GA lot are especially relevant.
This closer, if allowed to continue, sets up a dangerous precedent in which planners can say they wont close a bikeway in their planning documents, then close it anyway at the last minute without any public review process.
Some relevant questions.
(1) What entity requested the new Agnew to Hetch Hetchy closure (between June 2013 and ~June 2014)? Its stated on various sites now, but the original requester is not clear.
(2) Who approved the request and through what public review process?
(3) Are permits required, and if so, who requested and approved the permits.
(4) Can the minutes of meetings specifically regarding the Agnew to Hetch Hetchy trail closure be made public, or do we need to go the CPRA route.
(5) When will the final TMOP be available for public comment.
1) best I could tell from the reply I got at last nights meeting, the Santa Clara Police Department was the entity, according to DHS guidelines there needs to be a 150 feet security perimeter.
They provided no other replies to the issue, Jamie Matthews added he had no problem biking to the stadium.
The police Chief also replied at the meeting that the trail would normally be closed after sunset anyways for most games. Unfortunately that is just not true since only 2 of 10 home games this season would end after sunset. All other games start at 1-1:30pm ending WAY before sunset.
The draft TMOP diversion point west through the GA parking lot is about 150ft outside the stadium perimeter, so seems to have already been designed to meet the DHS guidelines. The Agnew trail head closure is about 3800 feet further away though. This would be equivalent to closing the trail north all the way past Old Mountain View-Alviso Rd. The GRT is also within 3800 feet of the east perimeter.
SCPD just seems unlikely to be the source of the change to the diversion in the draft TMOP from last Summer.
Since the trail is closed after Sunset, for games ending after Sunset how is the Stadium able to use the trail to access the Great America parking lot then? Wouldn’t that be in violation of existing code. The EIR sates that the trail adjacent to the stadium would receive no lighting, and care would be taken to even avoid stray lighting from the stadium. Then use of the trail to go from the bridges to the GA parking lot should not be allowed after dark, and attendees should be routed down the Tasman sidewalk instead. I don’t see this in the TMOP so I doubt this is what they are planning.
The Tasman sidewalk in front of the Stadium is ~zero feet from the stadium perimeter, certainly not 150 feet. Even the sidewalk on the north side of Tasman is with 150 feet. Yet access to these sidewalks is not restricted for non ticket holders. In order to be consistent then, the section of Tasman closed to traffic would also need to be closed to any non ticket holding pedestrians. Realistically, why would someone wanting to do harm position themselves 150 south of the perimeter on the trail, instead of immediately adjacent to the front entrance on the Tasman sidewalk.
They make the assumption that everyone using the trail just wants to get the stadium. No true. Many would like to get somewhere else, and choose the trail because other options in the area are poor/sketchy. A buffered or physically protected bike lane on Great America Parkway or Lafayette might have been mitigation. Of course without any public comment period for the closure, there was no chance to propose any proper mitigation.
I sent e-mails yesterday to “email@example.com”, which bounced, plus to “MAYORANDCOUNCIL@santaclaraca.gov” and the City Manager. I received a bulls**t reply (below), which indicates she didn’t read my e-mail, or doesn’t want to address my question. No reply yet to my subsequent polite “RTFM” e-mail.
—– Forwarded Message —–
From: Elizabeth Elliott
To: Mayor and Council ; Karl D
Sent: Tuesday, August 19, 2014 2:38 PM
Subject: RE: Bike trail closure near Levi’s Stadium
I’m attaching a link to the City’s website that provides information on accessibility to the bike trail on game days.
Elizabeth Elliott | City Manager’s Office
City of Santa Clara, California | All-America City
1500 Warburton Ave. | Santa Clara, CA 95050
firstname.lastname@example.org | http://www.santaclaraca.gov
From: Mayor and Council
Sent: Tuesday, August 19, 2014 1:57 PM
To: Karl D
Subject: RE: Bike trail closure near Levi’s Stadium
Thank you for your email. A copy will be provided to the Mayor and City Council Members. In addition, a copy will be sent to the City Manager’s Office for follow-up and response.
Mayor and Council Offices
City of Santa Clara
1500 Warburton Avenue
Santa Clara, CA 95050
From: Karl D [mailto:*******@yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, August 19, 2014 1:48 PM
To: Mayor and Council
Subject: Bike trail closure near Levi’s Stadium
I was surprised to find that the creek trail, to the south of the stadium, is CLOSED on game days.
Myself, and others, have been unable to determine what happened since the 2009 EIR, which specifically states unrestricted access to the trail.
(see Comments section) http://www.cyclelicio.us/2014/levis-stadium-bike-info-updated/
I’m unable to find on the Internet what happened since then: “who, when, and was it an open and public process?”
Just so everyone grasps the scale of this problem:
Its NOT just the Sunday 49er games the path will be closed. Any type of event where the metal detectors in the Great America Parking Lot are utilized WILL currently close the trail at Agnew because of the ‘security perimeter’. This may include the following events:
August 29th Friday Night Lights
September 6th (Sat) Mexico vs. Chile
October 24th (Fri) Cal vs. Oregon
Dec 5th (Fri) Pac 12 Championship game
Dec 30th (Tues) San Francisco Bowl
Feb 21st (Sat) NHL Sharks
March 29th (Sun) Wrestle mania
April 11th (Sat) Monster Jam
April 18th (Sat) Monster Energy Supercross
As the city of Santa Clara is paying for the stadium, they have responded that it is in their best interests to increase the number of events hosted at the stadium! So the problem of access to the trail will continue to get worse with more and more events.
Now is the time to ACT before complacency sets in and OUR trail is taken away forever.
Closed again this Sunday:
There is a comment section on the web page above, I added my thoughts there and also sent those to the Stadium e-mail address in the post:
Also call the stadium and ask to speak to someone about the closure: (408)673-2100
Levi Stadium and City of Santa Clara “contact us” links:
Direct the comments to the Mayor and Council for starters.
And legality of the closure or not, for now it looks like we have to live with it as any change will not happen in days, weeks or months.
So for now, they really need to post on a public site definite schedules of dates and times and stick to those times so trail users can plan around the closures. I attended a Santa Clara PAC meeting in January 2014 and a representative from the 49ers/Stadium authority promised such a schedule would be available. But to date, it sounds as if nobody has even considered that. I brought that up at last night’s meeting BAC as well. If the city or stadium “IT” people can’t put together a simple schedule page like that in half a days work, they should be fired. Heck, just set up a public Google Calendar page that people can look at.
All I want to do, for now, is to find out in advance when the trail will be closed to I can plan to avoid it. Riding 3-4 miles north on the trail to look at the sign 100 ft. before the locked gate is not an acceptable method of public notice. And on Sunday (8/17), I saw no times posted on the sign at Agnew Rd., only that the trail would be closed on stadium event days. We need to know exactly what dates and times and those times for closing and more importantly opening need to be made a top priority and somebody needs to be held accountable if that trial is not open at the time posted. If it is the stadium authority that controls opening the trail, then the city needs to add some financial incentive for them to open the trail ON TIME. How about assessing a substantial financial penalty for each minute delay in opening the gates on both ends of the trail. As it sits now, the city staff did not even hear that the gates were not opened until the morning of 8/18 until Wednesday, 8/20. They at least need someone down there at stadium events to hold the stadium folks to some schedule and if there are delays, get them sorted out then and there, not 3 days later. I even called the stadium folks this morning and could not get a hard and fast close/open time for this Sundays game. What is up with that???
Great comments. I like most of what is said. Esp Bike-Scoot, you’ve hit it on the head many times.
Additionally, the trail can be opened and people can bike into parking lot “10-F” or the bottom of “10-A” The trail can loop back to 10’F and will NOT get in the way of the people flowing across any of the bridges east of the metal detectors.
While this will not help thru traffic, it could enable bike parking there.
If you look at what Bike Party has proven, people are willing to bike of all ages.
If we assume that at least 15-20k cars will be driving to the game and that many will be carpooling to the games. I believe we can hit 10% mode share in 10 years, for normal commuting. So I have a proposal. for the 49ers:
Create massive bike corrals and lifestyle areas. If you do this right, you can take 1500-2000 cars off the road, which probably means 3-5k bikes.
Why not be the best in the world in not just sports but alternate transit? What’s the point of a LEED certification if the transit mix is a disaster.
Note: put metal detectors at Agnew Road! This will add a second layer of security.
Metal detectors or some sort of security screening for event attendees at Agnew Rd. was one of 4 or 5 proposals the 49ers/stadium authority presented back at the Jan. 2014 BPAC meeting and all but the current detour mess is what we ended up with.
Here is at least one potential bike ride that was abandoned in favor of driving to the event and parking with a short bike ride from lot 4 to the bike corral:
“11:35 a.m.: Ashley and Tim Haney pull up on bikes and park them in the dedicated bike corral. They intended to take the San Tomas Aquino Creek Bike Trail, but it’s apparently closed for games. Overall, their ride only took about 10 minutes – from the car they parked in Lot 4.”
So poor communication on what the status of the creek trail is during events is evident. They need a massive public outreach campaign to educate trail users and event goers alike. As is, they are ensuring that they P-O the maximum number of trail users by the unannounced closure of the trail. They seem to have no plan on when they will close and open the trail, just vague guesses. No wonder it is such chaos down there on an event day.
Perhaps someone with some connections at the City of Santa Clara can try to obtain a copy of the permit that allows the stadium to close the trail. Then we can check up and see if they are adhering to the terms of the permit. There is generally some public notice or public comment period when such a permit is issued and I do not recall seeing anything about that, so maybe there is no permit.
Oakland just released an EIR http://www.oaklandnet.com/coliseumcity/
I wonder if years down the road they’ll have the same problems we are having…
A change or two with today’s event. At about 6:15PM, all the gates at Agnew and Tasman remain locked and guarded, unlike last week They also have dates of stadium events affecting the trail posted now:
Interesting that the sign, put up after the 8/17 event lists 8/2, but not 8/17. Also does not list 8/29, so not sure if the trail will be open for that event or not.
And the top secret closing and opening times are 10PM the night before until 10PM after the event, this was for a 1PM NFL game, so times make change with other events. Got that from one of the gate guards and they will have guards posted at all the gates the entire time they are locked. And since the trail is officially closed dusk to dawn, the real closure time is dusk the day before until dawn the day after an event.
And now for a quick look at the “safe” detour route, after a game:
This was at 6:19PM, 8/24, and all three photos taken within 1 minute. Went from not that bad to impassible in the blink of any eye. Did not see any double parking of buses this time, but there was a boat load of LEOs around, although not watching traffic. There was only one guy in black somewhat directing buses as they made u-turns. He was obviously not watching out for detour traffic as he sent a bus on a u-turn and it nearly nailed me in the bike lane, I had to move left and up onto the sidewalk. Those buses almost can’t make the u-turn back on Stars and Stripes and their front end swings way wide almost to the sidewalk. I managed to find a gap in traffic as the LEOs were driving out, 3-4 CHP cruisers, a county sheriff van and an SCPD cruiser, imagine they were hauling some unruly fan off. They did nothing to control any traffic back there.
I still am amazed that the city thinks this is a safe detour route. I do not plan to make another trip through there, only reason I went today was to see if there were any changes from last week and if not to take some photos to document the chaos. Those 3 photos were taken within 1 minute and it went from not so bad to totally jammed in that time. Buses are encroaching into the bike lanes and with the tall profile and blacked out windows, a bike rider coming southbound has no visibility at all. I can only imagine the chaos there prior to game time! Could you imagine trying to navigate that mess with a couple of young kids just learning to ride?
I would say if they want to offer this as a detour, they either need to put up warning signs to keep novice riders out of there. Because by the time you get there, you are a mile or so into the detour, so turning around is not an easy choice. Or they need to have dedicated traffic direction back there to ensure bike detour traffic has safe passage. They do this on all the crosswalks away from the stadium for the fans. But I guess these cyclists trying to use the STAC trail are not paying fans, so scr*w them.
I did not want to risk the return south bound trip so went over to Calabazas Creek and took that up to behind Mission College. That is actually not a bad route after fans have left, there is some stadium parking over there, so would avoid it when the traffic is heavy. Only issue on Calabazas, if you have not ridden it, is that it is not very road bike/skinny tire friendly. All the under crossings are on gravel, dirt or deep sand. You can stick mostly to the paved trail but then you need to cross at street level and there are no cross walks. And in wet weather, the under crossings flood and stay wet quite a long time.
Guess I messed up the image files above, the links are below:
Wasn’t able to make it down the trail on the 6th, but according to this trail status news release that the city put out (what I was pushing them to do back in August):
The trail apparently was closed on the 6th even though that date was not listed on the sign on the trail (as was the 8/17 closure not listed).
Not sure if that page will be kept up to date, it seems to only list events through the end of 2014. They can’t even update the detour map to change the “Temporary Trail Closure Construction Zone”. And they really need to put up some sort of warning sign that the section along Stars and Stripes Dr. is dangerous or they need to staff that section with safety personnel the entire time the trail is closed.
Will be interesting to see what happens after the 16th when the new 3 foot clearance rule takes effect. There is no way traffic back there can leave a 3′ clearance for a cyclist riding along the designated bike lane, so traffic will need to be stopped whenever a cyclist wants to pass through. As it is, the buses and trucks are driving ON the bike lanes now since it is so crowded.
Might be a good forum to get some of these bicycle concerns on the table:
Stadium Community Meeting
A community meeting hosted by the Santa Clara Police Department, 49ers Management Company and the Valley Transportation Authority is scheduled for Tuesday, October 7 from 7:00-8:30pm at Don Callejon School, 4176 Lick Mill Boulevard in Santa Clara. The meeting will include an opportunity for residents and business owners to provide constructive feedback. No RSVP is necessary.