Sunnyvale California to study Vision Zero; hire Safe Routes coordinator

Public Works staff for the city of Sunnyvale, California say they intend to recommend to City Council to move forward on Vision Zero as a study issue, and to hire a Safe Routes to School coordinator in spite of other transportation issues that with the potential to take up city resources.

School Traffic

The city of Sunnyvale is one of the major cities in Santa Clara County, CA that make up Silicon Valley. It’s bordered by the Bay and Moffet Field to the north, the sity of Santa Clara to the east, Mountain View to the west, and Cupertino to the south. Sunnyvale has an bicyclist anti-harassment law on the books and a good policy of periodic parking surveys to audit candidates for road diets. Frustratingly, however, the city council also opposes projects like dedicated lane Bus Rapid Transit for El Camino Real.

From Kevin Jackson on the Sunnyvale BPAC and re-published here with his permission:

You may have heard that the Vision Zero study issue sponsored by the Sunnyvale BPAC was the second-ranked proposal assigned to the Public Works department. This would normally make it a slam-dunk since the budget for study issues typically allows them to take on three or four each year. But the top-ranked issue this time (Caltrain grade separation at Mary and Sunnyvale Avenues) is significantly more expensive than the average, so I’ve been eagerly waiting for official confirmation that Vision Zero made the cut.

I’m pleased to say our staff liaison has given me assurance that it did, so expect Sunnyvale to soon join the list of communities that have adopted this innovative approach to traffic engineering that puts the primary focus on eliminating deaths and serious injuries (what a concept!). We went into this facing strong institutional headwinds, but a major show of public support made all the difference. A big thanks to everyone who wrote to the council and/or spoke at the public hearing to demonstrate just how much concern there is about traffic safety, especially for the most vulnerable road users.

Likewise, for those of you interested in the Safe Routes to School program, our BPAC liaison also confirmed that the second-ranked budget issue, to establish a SRTS coordinator position, will move forward. Once again, public input was key to raising council awareness of this issue and convincing them of the need to take prompt action.

Please keep this in mind when you hear about future initiatives needing support. Even if all you have time for is a quick email to decision makers saying, “This issue is important, and I strongly encourage you to approve (or reject) it”, that will make a difference. The staff report generally just presents the raw numbers (or percentages) of public comments on each side, and if any more detail is provided it is usually tucked away in an appendix. So don’t be deterred from speaking up just because you feel you don’t have a lot to add. When elected officials make decisions, numbers matter so make sure your voice is counted.

Given the heavy car traffic near all of the schools in Sunnyvale, the Safe Routes position in particularly welcome.

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