The part-time bike lanes on Homestead Road through part of Sunnyvale, CA are up for discussion at the November 17, 2015 city council meeting.
I’ll paste (with his permission) what Kevin Jackson, co-chair of the Sunnyvale Bicycle / Pedestrian Advisory Commission, wrote about this, but here’s the takeaway: Sunnyvale City Council will consider proposal to remove the part-time street parking in the bike lanes on Homestead Road, but opposition to this proposal has been strong and DOT staff recommend staying with the status quo. Parking surveys show parking on cross streets. City council needs to hear from those who would like full-time bike lanes if you want them to vote that way.
As many of you are aware, the bike lane on the Sunnyvale side of Homestead Road is officially available only from 7:00am to 6:00pm Monday through Friday (holidays excepted), with parking permitted at all other times. In practice car owners routinely violate these time limits and police do not have the resources to provide effective enforcement, so you really can’t ever rely on being able to use it as a bike lane. The narrow widths of the general travel lanes are most definitely not for the faint of heart on this high speed, high volume arterial.
This important road is identified as a Cross County Bikeway Corridor, and the segment under consideration provides access to three schools (one each elementary, middle, and high), the new Apple campus and other employment centers, and many commercial and recreational destinations. For these reasons the Sunnyvale BPAC proposed a study issue to make the bike lane available full time, and we will be reviewing the staff report Thursday evening.
You can view the report by going to biking.insunnyvale.com and following the links to the current agenda. I strongly encourage everyone to read the Existing Policy section on pages 1 and 2 and ask yourself if these council-approved policies that are supposed to guide the staff recommendation bear any resemblance whatsoever to the remainder of the report.
Unfortunately, the staff recommendation is that “maintaining the current operations provides a good balance between bike facilities and community parking needs and concerns.” These parking “needs” are derived from an observed utilization of nine percent of the on-street spaces! The report notes that most of the houses have at least four off-street spaces available but does not indicate how many are occupied (based on my frequent observations, the vast majority are empty at any given time).
At the same time, the report cites “higher vehicular and relatively low bike volume” as the top consideration for its recommendation. This is the kind of sophistry that is routinely employed to argue against bike safety improvements – why bother to make it better for so few users? The flip side is that if many people are cycling there it must be just fine as is, so no need for improvements. Bridge players will recognize this as a classic example of Morton’s Fork Coup.
In any case, the staff recommendation is to look at it again in three or more years to see if bike usage has increased, despite the horrendously intimidating conditions that make such an outcome extremely unlikely. If you believe we can and should do better, this is a very good time to say so. You can attend the BPAC meeting (Thursday at 6:30pm in the West Conference Room of City Hall) and voice your opinion when the item is heard (first general business item).
After that, it will go to the city council on November 17 (7:00pm in the council chambers). You can write to them at any time before then at firstname.lastname@example.org, or better yet attend the meeting and speak in person at the public hearing (best of all is to do both).
Any questions, let me know. Thanks for your help on this important issue!