I just got back from the community meeting about bike and pedestrian access to Santa Clara's Central Park. It was not so well attended, but those who did attend had lots of good ideas, and they had the attention of city staff and advisers for about an hour and a half. There will be more community meetings about these plans. Those interested in the plans, maps, and future meetings may find details here: http://santaclaraca.gov/index.aspx?page=2381
The meeting was in one of the program rooms at the Central Park Library, and since we had plenty of staff members, we walked with one out the back door. We asked about paving a path from the library's park entrance through the ever-present mud puddle where we now stood, to the rest of the park. It hasn't rained in a week or two, yet it was plain to see that there was a well-trampled grassy area with no path and a messy mismatch between the drainage and the irrigation.
We went back inside and went to work on a selection of large, printed maps, and questions and suggestions flowed. Are bikes allowed on park paths? They already ride there, anyway. Benton Street is marked for a planned bike lane, great! Please make it a priority, with a Caltrain station at one end and a high school midway along it. Is there a safe way to turn left on and off it? People drive too fast. Why is Kiely only marked for "possible future study"? It's awful, especially by the busy post office, but there appears to be space for a bike lane. The curb cuts by the rec center make no sense. That stretch is too dark at night.
Those maps went back loaded with ink and stickers and ideas, stuff that might never have been considered at all if a handful of concerned citizens hadn't taken time to go out tonight.
Each citizen at tonight's meeting knew things the city planners did not. You know, too. You as a cyclist are out there in your community. You know where you dodge potholes or have to ride the long way through the back streets to avoid a bad intersection or busy main road. You know the hassles and the hazards.
Please find your local community meetings and bicycle commissions, and go tell them.