Santa Clara County bike plan update

Silicon Valley Cyclist: You can be involved in bicycle advocacy!

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Agency (VTA) in California will begin updating their County Bicycle Plan this month at the BPAC meeting scheduled for the evening of Wednesday, June 10, 2015. The Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee encourages the public to attend next Wednesday’s workshop to discuss the bike plan and the county road department plans to expand expressways.

VTA BPAC meeting June 10 2015

The process to update the bicycle plan will begin with discussion on capital projects identified in the current bicycle plan created in 2008. These capital projects were proposed by identifying what VTA calls “Cross County Bicycle Corridors” (CCBC, shown in the map above), and “Across Barrier Connections,” which are significant barriers to those on bike and shown in the map below. These Across Barrier Connections are intersections across roads and railroads with substandard lane widths, difficult freeway interchanges, and large distances between existing crossings of major barriers.

VTA BPAC meeting June 10 2015

Input received from BPAC Members and the public will be summarized and used to inform the update of the CBP. The June workshop is one of the first of several planned opportunities for BPAC Members and members of the public to provide input into the Countywide Bicycle Plan Update. Input received from this workshop will also be used to inform VTA’s ongoing Envision Silicon Valley effort, which may result in a transportation sales tax ballot measure.

County Roads Expressways Presentation

This is also the time of year when Santa Clara County Roads present their road plans to the VTA BPAC for review. The projects to be reviewed are:

  • San Tomas Expressway at Stevens Creek Intersection Improvement Project: San Tomas Expressway will be widened from three through lanes to four through lanes at Stevens Creek Boulevard. If I recall they plan to take space from the median to do this.
  • Page Mill Road Expressway Corridor Study: County Roads wants to convert Page Mill Road between I-280 and El Camino Real into another County Expressway. The four lane divided road carries 40,000 vehicles per day at a Level of Service of “E”, meaning motorists usually experience delays while traveling from I-280 to their jobs at Stanford, various medical centers, and scores of high tech, low tech, high finance, medical startup and retail jobs throughout Palo Alto, Los Altos, and Menlo Park. Page Mill is a fairly popular recreational cycling route, and an important bike commuter route between Foothill Expressway and Alma Street, where it becomes Oregon Expressway.

    At the June 10 workshop, County Roads staff will introduce their proposals for “phase 1 bicycle improvements” for Page Mill’s interchange with I-280, including this concept for buffered bike lanes across I-280.

    Santa Clara County Roads dept Page Mill & I-280 bike lanes proposal

  • Foothill Expressway Buffered Shoulders for Bicycle Use: Location To Be Determined. This is the first I’ve heard of this and I have no further details. Does Foothill need buffered bike lanes?

VTA BPAC Workshop Details and Directions

The workshop takes place next Wednesday, June 10, 2015 at the VTA Headquarters on North First Street at River Oaks in San Jose, CA beginning at 6:30 PM in conference room B-104. This conference room is kind of hard to find if you don’t know where it’s at, but you can wander around the building until you see the dorks in yellow bicycle jackets.

Bike access is easy from the Guadalupe River Trail. Electronic Bike Link lockers are available in the northeast corner of the VTA parking lot across from the River Oaks Light Rail station. VTA HQ is served by light rail (duh), and VTA bus 58. Naturally, ample, free car parking is also available.

What if I don’t know anyone? These workshops generally have a mixed crowd of grizzled vets, young and old staffers, and complete newbies wandering and looking lost. They should do a mixer game, but the staffers attend on their own time after a full workday and, understandably, they want to get home. Feel free to dive in, and you’re free to leave at any time if you get bored. I never stick around for much more than about a half hour but that’s because I have a looong commute. Somebody usually brings some Costco cookies to these workshops.




  1. If they’re going to spend money to improve Foothill, they should start at the intersections. Bike lane buffers are a nice touch, but half the time they don’t hash them, and most of the time they lead to slip lanes and merges where drivers going on/off the expressway are contending with cyclists (usually racing us to turns only to slam on the brakes in front of us upon realizing traffic is stopped and backed up around the corners).

  2. Take a look at the proposed green lane markings for Page Mill. How many of you descend Page Mill and then wait until the last minute to cross the two 280N lanes? I’m typically doing 30 MPH or more and integrating into gaps in traffic while signalling – I typically want to hold the left lane at least before the oncoming left turn lane into Christopher Lane (which is often obscured by tall dry grass in the summer, BTW).

    I’m thinking sharrows in the far left lane and leaving the old bike lane intact – to *augment* this treatment. Plus it would be nice to take Kimley Horn consultants down this descent on a bike one Friday afternoon and see if they think green paint makes all the difference in the world.

    Also, RE: Foothill, would be nice to throw a BMUFL sign or three along that roadway… for folks like me that tend to take the lane at certain right turns to avoid the aforementioned scenario.

    Lastly, do we have historical data for significant reported bike/car incidents on Foothill – where they are? Only one I can recall is a woman who was killed at Loyola Corners a few years ago. Just curious… data sometimes helps in decision making processes, I’ve noticed.

    Thanks for this heads-up – see you there!

  3. It does not makes sense to have all these meetings now, when in just a few months the new CEQA rules are expected to be published which will eliminate LOS as the transportation metric and replace it with VMT reduction. Recent assurances place this publish event before the end of the year.

    I wonder if they are trying to rush through the bike plan update before the new rules are published. Normally I might complain they are stalling and taking to long, but in this case I would recommend encouraging them to hold off until November. Under the current rules, any bike/ped improvements need to be mitigated by other LOS driven projects. These LOS “improvements” then have the affect of making biking and walking more difficult, so the net result can end up being zero for sustainable transportation.

    The other issue is that these meetings tend to attract cyclists that have a lower risk adversity than the general bike owning population. Those that own bikes but are not comfortable riding them on the current road infrastructure (such as weekend creek path cyclists) tend to be competently absent of grossly underrepresented. People naturally tend to approve of infrastructure which would be acceptable to them personally, but not necessarily to the general population. I would recommend for non-recreational routes that advocates consider the following litmus test to any proposed infrastructure. Would you be comfortable with taking your 8 year old daughter and 80 year old grandmother together on a bike ride on the new proposed infrastructure? If the answer is no, maybe the proposal is just not good enough.

  4. These are good points Bike-Scoot. I fall into the ‘lower risk adversity’ category that you mention, but my goal is to help educate these planners in what actually helps cyclists on these specific routes, and I firmly believe the treatments (since that’s what planners are focused on) need to be at intersections and not (primarily) mid-block. Foothill, Page Mill, San Tomas… all of these are under study by the county, but they are as important as commuting routes as they are recreational, and many people are commuters in the mornings and then recreational cyclists after work, especially as DST allows.

    For the 8-80 crowd, we definitely need to force the city of Santa Clara to fix the problem of closing the San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail, because that’s the type of infrastructure more amenable to risk averse cyclists, and it ultimately helps them build the confidence to become more comfortable riding closer to traffic. Of course, there are other plans in the works that apply to the 8-80 crowd as well (the planners I’ve met with understand that yardstick). This one they knew about but let happen, though, and are technically breaking the law in the process.

    Frankly I’m not sure you’re ever going to want to take either an 8- or 80-year-old on Page Mill, but I’m a firm believer that as taxpaying pedestrians, drivers, and cyclists (I suspect most of us are all of the above) we have to keep the pressure on cities and counties to address *all* of these types of infrastructure. Given that there’s a bike lane already there, the main priority I have for this meeting is making sure they don’t make it more dangerous than it already is. IMO, making a cyclist cross those on-ramps at those angles will steal a lot of speed from them that can propel them safely across these lanes otherwise. Also, why they have a 50 MPH limit at the top of that hill (and then 35 MPH at the bottom, where these merges are) is beyond me. Acceleration and deceleration like this will do nothing to move that traffic volume any more efficiently, so slow it at the top).

    Thanks again for bringing up the LOS point – I’d forgotten about that. I suspect they haven’t given it any thought and are just prepping for a particular budget cycle by putting these hearings on this timeline.

    As an aside, another thing I see planners having a problem with is using sharrows to indicate certain places where it makes sense for ‘risk-friendly’ cyclists to take the lane. Instead, they frequently direct cyclists directly to the right of right-turning cars, and it’s precisely the ‘risk averse’ bicyclists that this shouldn’t be done to. Once incidents start to occur, then they’ll consider painting it green, but there have got to be better approaches to what’s being put out there now by Santa Clara County, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, etc. (I’m still trying to think of them…). BTW if you talk them, several places I can point to are 40+ MPH and they can only use sharrows for 35 MPH and under if I’m not mistaken. In Portland they’ve been lowering speed limits, but I’m sure entire city councils would fry if that was proposed here (like Santa Clara’s did recently for the Pruneridge road diet).

  5. “Under the current rules, any bike/ped improvements need to be mitigated by other LOS driven projects.”

    BTW, that just sunk in. Is that back-asswards or what???

  6. No Wuss912, you are a role model. Your 8-year-old will grow up being far more situationally aware as a driver, bicycle rider, and pedestrian, than a great deal of road users today. Thank you!

  7. There’s an important update on that AB 779. The version that eventually passed committee is a completely different bill now. It gives developments the option to completely remove traffic analysis requirements for developments in “transit priority areas” and is designed to speed approval of urban infill development.

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