Santa Clara Levi’s Stadium bicycle plan

The city of Santa Clara Stadium Authority, which manages the new 49ers stadium, published a draft Transportation Management and Operations Plan some time ago. I hear there’s a final plan available now, but I haven’t been able to find it. In any case, I’m told the bike plan part of the TMOP remains unchanged from the draft to the current version.

Levi's Stadium bike parking

Here are some of the highlights from the bicycle plan.

The EIR process for the new stadium required a transportation plan that encouraged “multi-modal” access to the new stadium. For capacity events, 50,000 people are expected to arrive in 20,000 cars. Another 18,000 are expected to arrive via mass transit. Fewer than 1,000 people are expected to arrive by bike. The Stadium Authority has implemented a bike plan to facilitate the arrival of cyclists at stadium events.

Because the stadium is located adjacent to a popular regional bikeway — the San Tomas Aquino Trail — the Stadium Authority is also required to evaluate the impact of events on this trail. I’ll discuss this a little more below, but I’ll warn you the impacts are substantial. The stadium Transportation Operations Group (TOG) will evaluate these impacts via aerial photographs.

Bike plan highlights

  • Parking for 328 bikes will be available in the Great America parking lot near the stadium’s northwest entrance at Gate A. Another 422 spaces are available at the southwest corner of the stadium near Gate C.
  • For events with more than 25,000 attendees, the TOG will provide valet bicycle parking for a minimum of 750 bikes and up to 1,250 bikes.
  • 33 bike lockers immediately adjacent to stadium entrances will be available for employee use, along with several dozen bike racks located at Gates A, E, and F. Contrast this with the 1,000 employee parking lots available in the city of Santa Clara parking garage on the other side of Tasman Drive for 2,900 employees.

Bicycle traffic diversions

One cool aspect of the stadium transportation plan: Tasman Drive will be closed and become a pedestrian only zone between the Great American parking lot driveway and Stars & Stripes Drive during large events. This is to allow people to walk safely across the road from the light rail station, which is located in the median of Tasman Drive. This closure also affects cyclists – we may be required to dismount and walk our bikes through this zone during peak times, which probably means when everybody leaves after the game.

The San Tomas Aquino Trail will also be closed alongside the stadium, with bike traffic diverted into the Great America parking lot to bypass the stadium “security zone” and event screening area.

Bike access will also likely become restricted on some VTA light rail trains on event days.

VTA light rail at Levi's Stadium

Transit access

The new stadium in Santa Clara has some transit access via a VTA light rail station next to the stadium and a heavy rail station nearby that serves the ACE and Amtrak Capitol Corridor trains.

VTA light rail systemwide capacity is 12,000 passengers when all trains are deployed. The Stadium anticipates using up a significant fraction of that capacity with an estimated 4,500 people using light rail for transportation to and from the stadium. Last April, I anticipated some of the changes VTA would have to make to handle game-day operations, specifically mentioning the single track segment out of Mountain View as a limiting factor. This single track limits headways out of and into Mountain View, which in turn limits the crowd capacity.

VTA began construction this month on the Santa Clara Pocket Track project, which adds a third set of tracks along the Tasman light rail line. This will allow storage of up to three, 3-car trains so they’re primed and ready to quickly load and transport thousands of passengers after large events.

VTA light rail is “proof of payment.” In other words, you board the train and roving inspectors may or may not ask for tickets. I suspect it’ll just become a free-for-all at first. Eventually they’ll probably try something like Caltrain’s solution in San Francisco: customers after a Giants game queue up at 4th & King Station and tickets are checked as they enter the platform. Another idea: the NFL adds a small transit fee to each ticket and distributes the funds to VTA.

You can read about VTA’s plans here.

Some people have talked about running Caltrain up the tracks to the station. The tracks connect, but there are only a single set of tracks and there’s no place to park the train for the return trip, and no place to park the train to get out of the way of other arriving trains. The interim solution: shuttle buses from Caltrain Santa Clara up Lafayette Street to the stadium.

ACE and Amtrak Capitol Corridor stop next to the station too. ACE only runs during the week, though plans may be afoot to run special game day trains.

Stadium bike plan contacts

The Stadium EIR process that established a lot of this stuff is years complete, but if you feel the need to say something about the bike diversions on the San Tomas Aquino Trail, the appropriate contact is the Santa Clara Stadium Authority. The Stadium Authority owns and operates the stadium and manages the transportation plan.

The Stadium Authority meets twice monthly on Tuesdays following the 7 p.m. City Council, Sports & Open Space Authority, and Housing Authority meetings, in City of Santa Clara Council Chambers at City Hall, 1500 Warburton Avenue, Santa Clara, CA. Visit the Stadium Authority website for meeting schedule, agendas, past minutes and contact information. Letters and electronic correspondence addressed to the Stadium Authority become part of the public record.

The city of Santa Clara also has a BPAC, which is the place to discuss bike access and diversion issues around the San Tomas Aquino Trail.

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