Major public policy failures occur routinely all around us. Demand for transit has continued to increase yet budget and services are being cut, particularly in buses. Bicycles gaps remain unfilled- we are cognizant of the choke points over freeways, San Carlos Ave over the railroad tracks in San Jose, Stevens Creek entering San Jose from Cupertino (more at the bottom).
Gaps persist despite all the hot air about global warming, pollution, heart disease, resource depletion, parents-in-SUVs-killing six year olds on their way to school, etc. County Supervisor Ken Yeager, and by extension Caltrain CEO Mike Scanlon, Special Assistant Mark Simon, and Operations Chief Chuck Harvey stand out in such an environment- Ken for riding his bike to work and Mike, Mark and Chuch for hearing the plea for increased capacity and doing something about it.
Ken was our bicycle go to guy on the San Jose City Council and we are still sincerely grateful to him for the bicycle and trails coordinator positions, funding traffic calming, and the rail spur in Willow Glen to link the trail/river confluence together. But, at the Joint Powers Board, and in keeping with his new position on the Air Resource Board, and the regional impact of Caltrain, he has stepped up to be a rock star. His tenacious questioning on capacity at the JPB hearing, ability to hear details like the counting of folded bikes, and search for compromises that could move us forward, echoed the universal in all of us, and brought fellow board members forward to ask and set the policy tone for what could be accomplished.
MTC commissioner, and past San Mateo Mayor, and icon of Peninsula politics Sue Lempert wrote a nice tribute to the whole process which you can find here
One major disagreement- Only four jurisdictions out of the 21 on the Peninsula have formal Bicycle Advisory Committee. The remaining cities cobble one together once a year to obtain TDA-3 funds...illegally, as SVBC lioness Eleanor Fletcher will tell us, as the original legislation still has her imprint! Transportation Development Act (TDA) article 3, of Public Utilities Code (PUC) Section 99200 et seq., authorizes the submission of claims to a regional transportation planning agency for the funding of projects exclusively for the benefit and/or use of pedestrians and bicyclists and requires a formal BAC reporting to council for projects to be authorized. However TDA-3, instead of filling in bicycle gaps since the Clean Air Act in the mid 70s, has contributed to vast expansion in diminished bicycle facilities (requiring additional legislation today like Complete Streets). Bicycle accommodations are displaced for increased auto capacity under a tacit agreement by all stakeholders that bicycles will be accommodated in the future with TDA-3 funds. As Ralston over 101, and numerous other such 100 million dollar boondoggles prove, the bike facilities never materialize because the funding for over-crossings are never sufficiently allocated- decades later! TDA-3 funding pools are a convenient means used by Public Works departments as public relations to backfill the danger created from auto expansion in a few marginal locations. Stay tuned to our BAC ambassador to see how SVBC intends to douse this fire and follow our stopgap Share The Road campaign here.