Editor’s note: With the recent approval of Cupertino’s new Bicycle Transportation Plan, we thought it was a great time to check in with the city and get an update on all the good work it has been doing to promote bicycling. Cupertino Director of Public Works Timm Borden graciously obliged with this rundown of the many ways the city has been improving safety for bicyclists and pedestrians following a devastating collision that took the life of Ethan Wong, a bicycling high school student, in 2014. Kudos to Cupertino for proactively working to become safer and more inviting for bicycling.
Just prior to the announcement for the US DOT’s Mayor’s Challenge for Safer People Safer Streets, the City suffered the tragic loss of a high school freshman that was in a collision with a truck while riding his bike to school. After hosting a community meeting with over 200 engaged people of all ages, and gaining over 400 ideas for improvements, the City embarked on an effort to quickly improve the safety of cyclists and pedestrians. The program immediately got funding and Council support for engineering improvements, as well as new programs and local laws. Many engineering improvements took advantage of the City’s largest street repaving effort in its history by replacing striping with narrower vehicular lanes, green bike lanes, bike lane buffers, and sharrows.
Engineering solutions that quickly came into place in 2014-15 included installation of green bike lanes at dozens of potential vehicle-bicycle conflict areas, seven miles of buffered bike lanes, including portions of Stevens Creek Boulevard, and sharrows along many of our bike routes, concentrating on areas in the vicinity of schools.
Other non-engineering solution actions that were taken included:
- Hired a part-time Safe Routes to School Coordinator to develop a structure for City/School District/Community partnership, in order to find ways to make bicycling and walking more comfortable and to develop programs to educate students, and encourage students to bike and walk. With good early momentum, the City Council agreed to make the Safe Routes Coordinator a full-time position.
- Amended the Municipal Code to prohibit Trucks in School Zones during morning and afternoon commute.
- Initiated pilot and then permanent program for early morning pick up of garbage and recycling carts to reduce bike lane obstructions during morning school bike commute.
- Completed a thorough ADA Transition Plan Update, addressing barriers and strategies to remove those barriers.
- Hired Alta Planning + Design to update our 2011 Bicycle Transportation Plan. This became a great community effort and a solid platform for a cohesive and engaged Bicycle Pedestrian Commission. A new community advocacy group was formed, Walk Bike Cupertino, which also helped shaped the new plan. The plan was approved on June 21, and the City Council has already budgeted $2 million to begin on identified high priority projects. The plan, in total, includes 15 new miles of Class III bike routes and bike boulevards, ten miles of Class IV separated bikeways, and a new Class I Cupertino loop trail, which is anticipated to take advantage of Union Pacific Railroad and Water District rights-of-way to form a network of off-street bikeways around town.