Based on my experience biking to Levi’s Stadium last weekend and numerous comments received from others who did the same, I wrote the below letter to the Santa Clara Stadium Authority and the Santa Clara Bicycle Advisory Committee.
Update: I’ve already heard back from both the Mayor’s office and from BAC chair Teresa O’Neill, both of whom say they plan to bring the issues I’ve raised to the attention of stadium management.
Dear Santa Clara Stadium Authority members and Santa Clara Bicycle Advisory Committee Members:I biked to the Earthquakes game last Saturday, talked to others who biked to the stadium and sought comments online. I would like to bring bike parking issues to your attention in the hopes they will be addressed by the Santa Clara Bike Advisory Committee, the Stadium Authority, and the Stadium Transportation Operations Group.1. Trail closure: I was aware of the San Tomas Aquino Trail closure policy months ago, but apparently word did not get out to much of the population. I heard from several people who were completely surprised when they couldn’t bike to the stadium via the trail.2. Trail detour: Several people who biked to Levi’s Stadium told me the security personnel stationed at the San Tomas Aquino Trail closure on Agnew had no idea which way to direct cyclists to the detour via Lakeshore and the Amtrak parking lot.3. Incorrect information on the website: The Levi’s Stadium website says “complimentary bicycle valet service is located in Red Lot 1 and Red Lot 6.” As far as I or anybody I talked to could figure out, no bike parking was available at either Red Lot 1 or 6. There was bike parking inside the stadium security perimeter on the east side of the stadium by gates E and F.4. Knowledgeable personnel: The ushers and security personnel were all very polite, but not a single person knew anything at all about the location of bicycle parking and bike routes back to local trails.5. Insufficient bike parking: Several people said there were many more bikes than available parking could accommodate. The transportation plan approved by the Santa Clara Stadium authority says a Transportation Operations Group would provide bike parking for up to 750 bikes at events with more than 25,000 attendees. This clearly was not the case on Saturday.I believe the action items are obvious: personnel directing traffic should be trained on the bike detours and routes to local trails, ushers should know where to direct people to bike parking, the website needs to be corrected to point people to the correct location for bike parking, and bike parking probably should be added.I realize car parking and public transit has a much higher profile, but these simple fixes can improve access for all patrons at Levi’s Stadium.Best regards,Richard MasonerPublisher: http://www.cyclelicio.us/
I encourage you to comment on these issues to both the Stadium Authority and the Bicycle Advisory Committee. The Stadium Authority next meets on Tuesday, August 19, 2014 in city of Santa Clara Council Chambers at City Hall, 1500 Warburton Avenue. The Stadium Authority takes place following the city council meeting and various other commission meetings, so it may turn out to be a late night.
The next Santa Clara Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting is scheduled for 4 PM, Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at City Hall.
I clearly need to update the information on my own Levi’s Stadium bike directions page.
Statistics from last Saturday’s game.
- 48,765 ; compare to 12,787 average attendance for regular season games for the San Jose Earthquakes.
- Over 9,000 people arrived via VTA public transit.
- 30,000 parking spaces in 28 lots spread over eight square miles to store the conveyances of people who will be packed into a 50 acre stadium.
- 170 person capacity in each 90 foot VTA light rail car, 250 “crush” capacity . A packed 3 car train carrying 750 people takes up 270 feet by nine feet of space, vs three quarters of a mile by 42 feet of lane space required to carry that many people by car.
My wife and I biked past the stadium near 2 PM when they were going to shut down the San Tomas Creek trail. Because of that I took light rail with my daughter instead to see how that worked.
The trail is never mentioned to be closed until the stadium was built. The EIR has this statement only about the trail:
. Those traveling south of the stadium would utilize the San
Tomas Aquino Creek trail or Great America parkway and one of the pedestrian bridges across San Tomas Aquino Creek Pedestrian routes.
That means the people who are running the show lied knowing full well where they were putting the security crossing and planning to block public access to parts of Santa Clara and the bay. There are plans for 30 events at the stadium and most will be weekends. The owners of the stadium are going to be blocking safe public access on high use days for hundreds of people with up to 10 hour closures.
That is totally unacceptable. The Owners need to find a way to keep the public trail open instead of closing it up over 25% of weekend days per year.
The people at the gates that I talked to also had no clue as to routes to take other than pushing people out on to GAP. Neither did the cops with bikes in the stadium…….
There is a total lack of communication to the public about the exact times of closing and opening the trail.
Also there seems to be no coordination of re-opeing the trail.
– On 8/2, the Tasman gate was open after the event, but the Agnew gate remained closed.
– On 8/17, the Agnew gate was open some time before 6:10PM (when I arrived) yet pedestrian barricades were blocking the trail at the stadium and then the Tasman gates were locked and unmanned. Apparently they did not re-open until after 8:30AM Monday morning.
Forced to take the detour at 6:30PM on 8/17, I encountered heavy traffic behind the stadium. There were NO people directing traffic or otherwise ensuring the safety of detour users. There were large buses double- and triple-parked in the south bound lane of Stars and Stripes forcing south -bound traffic into the opposing lane of the road to get around the buses. The buses are the full size type, perhaps 10+ feet tall, blacked out windows and no way to see around them to ascertain if there is any traffic about to pull out in front of the bus. This is outrageous to force unsuspecting trail users to navigate that Mad-Max situation behind the stadium. Everyone at the city and stadium I related this too all said “that should not have happened”, but the point it IT DID HAPPEN. What is anyone going to do about preventing that from happening going forward?
Who owns the schedule for closing and opening the trail.and staffing the detour with safety personnel? Obviously they are not doing their job and need to to be held accountable for that. And why is the city/police/stadium not putting supervisory people out there to monitor things during this start up period? At the 8/20 BPAC meeting, the head of traffic engineering said that this is all a learning experience and give it a year to work out the bugs. Excuse me, but how do you work out the bugs when there is nobody out there observing and documenting the bugs? I guess they want to wait until someone gets crushed by a bus or truck or car behind the stadium before anything happens.
If someone could just post times and dates of the closures in advance (a day or two ahead is not sufficient and a date without a time is not sufficient), at least trail users could be informed as to when to avoid that part of the trail and thus avoid the mess. As is, everyone has to guess if the trail is open or not.
The present system is doing a great job at pissing off the most number of trail users as possible. If that is their plan, they are doing a great job. If it is not their plan, they better start modifying it.
As an example, when CalTrans closed down the Bay Bridge the other year for that long weekend, they didn’t wait until that weekend and then put up a sign that the bridge was closed. No, they hit the media with the information, they had web pages, bill boards, PSAs, TV, radio, newspapers, likely social media. Compare to the creek trail, a little sign 100′ before you hit the locked gate. Granted the STAC is not the Bay Bridge, but heck, there are other routes around the Bay Bridge, people can figure it out, etc.
This does not look like a safe bicycle path to me (photo from 6:19PM on 8/24 on Stars and Strips behind the stadium):
(sorry, do not know how to embed photos here, clicking the link will bring up an 800×600 JPG).
Replacing an off-street, Class 1 multi-use trail with this mess is not a fair trade. And this IS what it looks like behind the stadium on a game day. This is where every drop of beer, case of hot dogs and all the people that make them, sell them and clean up afterwords arrive for and leave work.
Sure there are painted bike lanes on Stars and Stripes, you can see them under the buses. I had to hop up onto the sidewalk Sunday to avoid contact with a u-turning bus. Would you take your kids on bikes back there to ride through that or pull a bike trailer with your kids in it?
I think that at a minimum the city/stadium authority needs to put warning signs up for hazardous traffic conditions and then also staff that detour the entire time the trail is closed with personnel to ensure safe passage of detour users. They have crossing guards at all the sidewalk crosswalks around the stadium, but NOBODY back here watching out for trail users unfortunate enough to get caught up in this mess. I guess they care about paying fans but not about poor cyclists who just want to get around the trail closure because they were not able to find out the trail was closed.
And for a long term solution, the stadium authority needs to pay for and construct a Class 1 bypass trail around the stadium. It seems they could come down the Hetch Hetchy right of way just like they do with bike paths in Sunnyvale and Mt. View. Then figure out some way (elevated trail perhaps) to get the trail around Stars and Stripes and the Amtrak station and all that mess over to rejoin the main trail.
My take on the closure of the existing stretch of trail is that they pretty much have to. I went by the stadium late Saturday afternoon and they were setting up everything. There are big generators, I imagine heavy power cables and I imagine other stuff crossing over the trail by the time they have everything up and running. That said, I think what they need to do is to construct a permanent bypass that is safe and then keep the existing part of the trail as an access point for a bike parking area on the south side of the stadium like they originally intended. Put up some security scanners there for cyclists attending the event, they could avoid the main crowds and have their own private entrance and parking.
But the key is to attack this issue on the hazardous detour route. It is not safe route before, during and after a game, which is the only time that detour would be used. So short of staffing the detour with a boat load more safety personnel, the stadium could make a permanent bypass and save money. So hit up all the stadium and city contact people with how dangerous you find the detour to be on game days. That is a huge liability, all you need is one detour user to get run over by a truck or bus back there and it is a big buck lawsuit against the stadium and city.
And if you don’t believe me or the photos above, I suggest you go out on the detour the next time the trail is closed and check out the horrendous traffic back behind the stadium on a game day – just be safe and don’t get run over! Take pictures and video and e-mail it to the city and stadium folks (I’ve sent my photos in on Sunday night) and make them realize this is a dangerous situation and needs to be addressed. This is what they should have done in the first place, either bridge over the trail or build a permanent class 1, off-street trail to bypass the class-1 off-street trail.
That detour is horrible without it being an event day. We had to ride through there several times when the trail was closed during construction and I almost got hit twice by 49er personnel exiting their area and two times by buses that just pulled out did not even look to see if anyone was coming, much less a bike. I can only imagine how crazy that is during an event. They need to change this.