My last two columns addressed proposed changes to Foothill Expressway and roadblocks to bicycle safety in the planning process. I have been busy following up for the past month.
I have what I think is a simple request: As the motor vehicle traffic has increased significantly since bicycles were first allowed on Santa Clara County expressways 30 years ago, and as Foothill has become a major bicycle commuter and recreational artery, enhancements to accommodate more traffic should incorporate proven design features to boost cyclist safety. The cost of doing this is close to zero, yet organizational resistance continues due to policies written into the county’s expressway guidelines.
I am going to address it one more time in this column, and then I will find a new subject next month, I promise.
On a positive note, the discussion incentivized me to learn about cycling education in the area, because that is at the heart of the county policy (not encouraging unqualified riders to use the expressways).
I took the first part (classroom) of the League of American Bicyclists Smart Cycling Class offered through the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA). It was excellent, and I was happy to see that, though the vocabulary was slightly different from mine, it was 100 percent consistent with the safe cycling tips I have been writing about. I signed up for the second part (on the bike) of the training and the two all-day training sessions that will qualify me as a League Cycling Instructor, which requires that I give at least three training sessions at local schools.
I encourage anyone with the interest and motivation to do the same. I encourage any parent or teacher with an interest in safety for their kids to schedule instruction at their schools.
I learned that the VTA Bicycle Corridor map, available online, was a draft and has now been corrected to show major and secondary cycling arteries through Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View. This is a positive step, and I am encouraged that the VTA is dedicated to publicizing and improving the local alternative transit infrastructure.
But what about the project itself? Although both the city of Los Altos (through the Complete Streets Commission) and the County Roads & Airports Department have been proactive in soliciting public input, the design process is long, and we don’t know what the final product will be.
County officials have told me that they will not consider adding any markings to the road that imply a “designated” route through intersections, but city officials can request a waiver (and the rules for that are fairly clear in the county guidelines). Los Altos city staffers informed me that though they are sympathetic to my arguments, it is up to the city council, and not to get my hopes up because “things move slowly.” I plan to attend a council meeting in the near future, as there is an opportunity to make public comment on items not on the agenda.
And last but not least – hasn’t the weather been wonderful? It’s been great to get out on the bike, and the Strava app continues to record approximately 10 new cyclists on Foothill (in each direction) every day. I have heard back from more of you on this subject than any previous column, and there is a lot of support out there for the promotion of incorporating cycling safety into the design of upgrades to our expressway system.