Facebook Supports Bike Lane Network and the Bay Trail
Facebook is taking a leading position in promoting the bicycle for everyday use by funding the construction of a comprehensive network of bike lanes in Menlo Park and East Palo Alto on routes leading to its new Menlo Park Campus, and working with other Silicon Valley employers to contribute financially to the completion of a missing one-mile section of the Bay Trail.
Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition (SVBC) has worked closely with Facebook, Menlo Park, and East Palo Alto to identify routes that will most effectively serve Facebook’s commuters, reduce vehicle trips and traffic congestion, and provide improved transportation choices and health benefits to the broader community not only in Menlo Park and East Palo Alto, but the region as a whole.
Bike Lanes Provide Safe Routes to Facebook
The goal of the bike lane improvements is to create several safe, continuous bike routes to the Facebook Campus that connect to the already high-quality bicycle infrastructure available in west Menlo Park and Palo Alto.
Facebook plans to work closely with the City of Menlo Park and the City of East Palo Alto and Caltrans on planning and implementation. The Menlo Park Bicycle Commission has made recommendations to improve routes to Facebook on Willow Rd, University Ave, and Bay Rd, and a recent City of East Palo Alto Staff presentation to Council also recommends the routes on University Ave and Bay Rd in East Palo Alto.
Facebook expects several hundred employees to use the improved bike lanes as the company expands over the next several years, which will help to not only reduce the number of vehicle trips to the Facebook Campus but to many other destinations as well, since they will make bicycling on the main streets through Belle Haven and East Palo Alto much safer.
“Continuous bike lanes are low-cost and effective – when safe bicycle infrastructure is provided, people use it, and everyone benefits,” said Corinne Winter, President and Executive Director of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. “More bike lanes and bike paths to more destinations help alleviate traffic congestion, increase parking availability, and result in a safer, healthier, more active community.”
Some bike lanes already exist on these streets, but with many challenging gaps that discourage cycling, including Highway 101 overpasses. Facebook’s improvements would fill in these gaps to create continuous bike lanes on Willow Road from Middlefield Road to the Facebook Campus, on University Avenue from Woodland Avenue to the Facebook Campus, and on the Bay Road Route from the end of the Bay Trail to Willow Road & Newbridge Street.
Leading Employer Support for the Bay Trail
Facebook has also taken the lead in inviting other Silicon Valley employers to join in contributing funds to help complete a missing one-mile segment of the Bay Trail near the Facebook Campus. Facebook has already committed funds to construct about half of this missing section.
Facebook then announced its intention to work with other Silicon Valley employers to complete the other half of the missing section on January 12, at a meeting of the Menlo Park Planning Commission. “We heard loud and clear from cyclists talking about some of the issues with the Bay Trail Gap,” said John Tenanes, Facebook’s Director of Global Real Estate. “We’re going to work with other local businesses to figure out a way to fix that gap that exists in the trail.”
At a January 23rd meeting of Transportation Demand Managers at Facebook’s headquarters, Facebook invited other employers to join them in this initiative that would benefit commuters in many other companies in addition to Facebook. The corporate contributions will help qualify the project for other sources of regional grant funding and accelerate the project’s progress.
Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition strongly advocates filling in gaps in the Bay Trail because the availability of off-street paths results in significant increases in bike commuting. When this missing one-mile section of the Bay Trail in Menlo Park and East Palo Alto is completed, a network of over 100 miles of continuous bike paths would connect residences and businesses on the Peninsula and in the East Bay. Facebook expects that bike commuting would increase significantly because its campus lies directly on the Bay Trail, and over 40 percent of its employees live in cities with direct bike path connections to the Bay Trail, including Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, and San Jose.