San Mateo County Transit District’s Jim Hartnett on Future of Transit Safety and Bicycling

San Mateo County Transit District’s Jim Hartnett on Future of Transit Safety and Bicycling

Peninsula native and Redwood City resident Jim Hartnett is the General Manager and Chief Executive Officer of the San Mateo County Transit District, a title he has held now for four months. Though new to the job, he is not new to transportation here in Silicon Valley, having served for many years on the board of directors for the District, Caltrain, and California High Speed Rail Authority. He also served 15 years on the Redwood City City Council, including terms as mayor and vice mayor. He is one of the highlighted speakers at the 5th Annual Silicon Valley Bicycle Summit, hosted by SVBC presenting sponsor, Stanford Healthcare on Wednesday, August 26 at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto. The future of safety and bicycling in San Mateo County are key issues for the Summit, and Jim took the time to answer some questions about these issues from us in advance of Aug. 26. What are the top priorities and projects for the San Mateo County Transit District and the agencies that you lead? Long-term financial sustainability for both Caltrain and SamTrans are a top priority. Caltrain is one of the only transit systems in the country that does not have its own dedicated, permanent source of revenue. SamTrans’ financial uncertainty inhibits its ability to do more and expand the reach of its mobility options. What do you see as the role of your agencies in promoting bicycling and walking in San Mateo County? The San Mateo County Transit District defines itself as a leader in mobility management, not only a provider but a catalyst for improved...
Vision Zero Toolkit to debut at Silicon Valley Bike Summit

Vision Zero Toolkit to debut at Silicon Valley Bike Summit

On August 26, attendees to the Silicon Valley Bike Summit will get to hear the debut of our Vision Zero Toolkit, in collaboration with California Walks, and take home a copy to help them implement this important program in their communities. SVBC has been working towards Vision Zero, the goal to have 0 deaths and life-altering injuries on our roadways, since the early part of this decade. This was the impetus to create the Roadway Safety Solutions Team with Stanford Healthcare, in which we work with stakeholders from around San Mateo County and Santa Clara County on safety initiatives. Vision Zero has been gaining attention nationally and worldwide over the last year, with the United States Department of Transportation Mayors’ Challenge, and San Francisco and New York City adopting Vision Zero policies and implementation plans. Locally, City of San Mateo and City of San Jose have adopted Vision Zero policies this year as well. With all this movement, we’ve had cities from San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties asking us how they too can adopt and implement such plans and create safer streets for their communities. To address this need, we are developing a Vision Zero Toolkit in collaboration with California Walks. This Toolkit will provide a guide for city staff and policymakers with key steps to take towards achieving Vision Zero. The Toolkit will be organized using the “Five E’s,” a common framework in street safety to categorize the types of projects and improvements that will lead to systematic change. These are engineering, enforcement, education, encouragement, and evaluation. We’ve added a couple other E’s that we think are...
Friends of Future Millbrae launched to educate residents on Station Area Plan

Friends of Future Millbrae launched to educate residents on Station Area Plan

On Tuesday night, a group of non-profits (including SVBC) and local residents called Friends of Future Millbrae convened a community workshop to educate residents about the potential benefits, impacts, and concerns of Millbrae’s Station Area Specific Plan (MSASP). The plan is an update from the original 1998 plan. It includes updates to zoning, circulation, design, and other guidelines for the specific plan area, immediately surrounding Millbrae’s BART and Caltrain station. This multimodal transit station is one of the busiest on the Peninsula, servicing not only the two train lines, but also connections to San Francisco Airport. It will also serve as one of a few High Speed Rail train stops in the Bay Area (the other two being San Jose and San Francisco) on a blended system with Caltrain. Currently, the station is surrounded by parking lots and effectively disconnected from the Millbrae community through the barriers of Millbrae Ave. and El Camino Real. However, this station is a commute hub for Millbrae and other nearby communities like San Bruno, Burlingame, and San Mateo to access employment and other destinations north and south. This plan and two proposed Transit-oriented Developments could be a real game changer in terms of connections for Millbrae and nearby cities. Friends of Future Millbrae is an ad hoc group of local Millbrae residents and non-profit organizations including the Millbrae Cool Cities Team, the Sierra Club Sustainable Land Use Committee, the Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County, Friends of Caltrain, Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, and public health advocates. We are dedicated to making the proposed (MSASP) the best transit-oriented development possible to benefit the...
Lincoln Avenue Road Diet needs your help to survive

Lincoln Avenue Road Diet needs your help to survive

The June 18 community meeting to discuss the Lincoln Avenue road diet in San Jose’s Willow Glen neighborhood had an impressive turnout of both supporters and detractors of the project. Several hundred residents filled the Willow Glen High School auditorium, with many donning extra large t-shirts with a red circle and stripe through the words “Road Diet” to show their disapproval. Despite the fact that most reactions to the road diet, and the data behind it, have been positive, there was an undeniable sense that the opponents were out in force that night. City staff presented the results of the three-month trial period road diet (PDF). Traffic had been reduced! Speeds had been reduced! Travel times were up by a few minutes during the worst times of day, true, but one of the goals of the project was to make Lincoln Avenue less appealing to commuter traffic using Willow Glen’s main drag as an alternative to Highway 87. Mission accomplished! Importantly, bicycling and walking had increased. And cut-through traffic on side streets was either not significantly increased or actually reduced. To us, to many residents and business owners, and to the city, these were all positive results. SVBC and our partners at California Walks had written a letter to Councilmember Oliverio, the Willow Glen Business and Neighborhood Associations, and the Department of Transportation to voice our support for the trial and celebrate the results. I also attended the community meeting with several SVBC members. We spoke about the multiple goals that have been achieved by the road diet: To reduce and slow vehicle traffic, shifting Lincoln Avenue away from...
Congrats Team Bike Challenge Winners!

Congrats Team Bike Challenge Winners!

Last week at LinkedIn headquarters, we honored the team and company bike challenge winners from May’s Bike to Work Month successes. View the photos on our Facebook page. Between all teams and companies competing, there were: Trips taken: 21,910 Miles logged: 149,480 Calories burned: 6,427,623 Pounds of CO2 spared: 150,000 Riders on Bike to Work Day: 30,231 Staggering! The Team Bike Challenge is a fun competition during National Bike Month in May where friends and colleagues form teams to compete against other teams and companies throughout the Bay Area, earning points every time they ride their bikes and for every mile they pedal. Click here to see the 2015 Team Bike Challenge winners and 2015 Company Bike Challenge...
New Caltrain Car Design Directive: More Space for People Who Bike

New Caltrain Car Design Directive: More Space for People Who Bike

For those of you that couldn’t skip work to attend Caltrain’s Joint Powers Board (JPB) meeting this morning, I have some good news to share after our call for action last week. Thanks to all of your petition signatures and comments (there was over 150 at last count), letters to Board members, in-person comments, and other outreach, the JPB voted to increase future bike capacity on electrified vehicles (coming in 2020) and commit to a minimum of $3 million for wayside bike parking improvements. Now, this isn’t everything we asked for. We were hoping to get 16% of bike passengers able to bring their bike on board. The JPB decision didn’t go that far, but didn’t preclude it either. Basically, they decided to dictate an 8:1 seats to bikes ratio when telling train manufacturers what to design, which is greater than staff recommendation of 9:1 seats to bikes ratio. This will increase bike capacity over today’s levels and allow for future increases as the cars will be designed with flexibility to take seats out. There will be further opportunities to influence the car design over the next year, so stay tuned. As for bike parking, the Board took a strong stance that this is a priority for their agency, and added a resolution to commit to at a minimum $3 million in funding for bike parking improvements. This is a great start and we will be working with other local partners to help Caltrain get this and other money so that there are safe and secure options for people who bike. There’s more work to do. We want to...