In an end of 2017 blog, we closed out the year with an overview of some of SVBC’s best accomplishments. What do we hope to look back on at the end of 2018 and declare a win? Below is a brief overview of SVBC’s 2018 workplan.
But first, a little context.
As a refresher, here’s our thinking on how to create pro-bicycling communities. There are three things that keep us from achieving our goal of 10% of trips by bike by 2025. We call these the three C’s:
- Concern: 60% of folks say they would ride more but they are a little afraid.
- Culture: When everyone around you is driving, that’s the norm. That’s the culture. Going against cultural norms is difficult when the society is set up to support those norms.
- Convenience: For most folks, riding a bike is inconvenient. Kid drop off, off-site meetings, and the time involved in planning and riding all make driving a seemingly preferable option.
Everything we do attempts to address the 3 C’s. And so we focus our work in two main buckets we call “people” and “places.” Places is the built environment, lobbying for bike lanes. People is the programmatic element that will change the culture like Bike to Work Day and teaching kids safe bike riding habits.
One more thing before going on to describe SVBC’s priorities for the year. We have a process for selecting goals. It involves seeking input from members like you in addition to staff and then running those ideas through a scoring system. That system evaluates suggestions based on things like, campaign feasibility, cost, need and more. This process was developed as a way to keep SVBC focused on the right issues, especially with a disparate membership that wants us to work on whatever is important in their neck of the woods. Don’t get us wrong. We love hearing from you all and beg for your patience when we don’t have the bandwidth to engage on an issue.
So, here’s what’s in store for 2018.
Plans! Yes, that exclamation point is an attempt to make what many view as a boring aspect of our work more exciting. Here’s the reality. Without plans in place, cities can’t submit for funding for projects from regional, state and federal sources. And, planning is a good thing. So, even though we all want to get more paint on the ground today, we have to take a step back and be thoughtful about where bike lanes should go.
Specifically, in the cities of Santa Clara and Sunnyvale, plans for El Camino Real as well as new city-wide bike plans are underway. The cities of San Mateo, San Carlos, and South San Francisco also recently were granted funds to update their bike plans. These are opportunities for bicycle advocates to push for strong plans that will lead to high quality bike infrastructure that makes the roads safe and convenient.
Bike to Work Day: Every year SVBC oversees the Bay Area Bike to Work Day and month. This is the region’s concerted effort to address the “culture” C by making the bike a cultural norm for the month of May with an emphasis on May 10th. Our goal is to increase participation by 15%.
Eco2School: Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS) programs are an important strategy in addressing the culture C as well. Through early interventions, bike riding habits are developed while kids are still in their formative years. But do they last? That’s where the Eco2School program comes into play. SRTS programs have typically been focused on elementary schools. When kids get into middle school and high school, all sorts of other factors come into play and the bicycle falls to the bottom of the coolness scale. Eco2School attempts to change this by bringing SRTS programs to high schools. This year, SVBC plans to implement SRTS in 3 South Bay schools.
Dumbarton Rail Corridor: Many of you are already familiar with this campaign to open up an underutilized rail spur from East Palo Alto to Redwood City. SamTrans is in the process of determining what can be accomplished here and at this point, due to the efforts of a coalition of advocates, is keeping a bike trail in the mix. (This after an initial recommendation to exclude bikes.) It’s just the beginning of a long process and this next year will be spent working with staff to evaluate what will ultimately fit in that corridor. How often do we have an opportunity to create a new bike path on a rail corridor? Almost never. The potential here to be visionary is huge for the folks planning this corridor.
Better Bikeways, SJ: Last year, San Jose, with support from the Knight Foundation, committed to bolstering a network of bike lanes in the Downtown Core that pedals away the “concern” C. Through this project, protected bike lanes, meaning there will be a physical barrier between rider and driver, will criss cross the City.
SVBC’s role in this project is focused on community outreach. Why? Remember the Lincoln Avenue Road Diet? Remember Oak Grove Ave in Menlo Park? These are just two examples of projects that faced fierce opposition from the community that caused unneeded delays and additional cost.
Community engagement and buy-in is essential to a functional city and to the future of bike projects everywhere. As we plan, SVBC will be at the forefront of working with impacted community members and businesses to ensure the smooth implementation of the better bikeways network. And, in the process, we’ll be inspiring new riders while engendering support for more, more and more bike lanes.
It is also worth noting that San Jose’s success in creating a network of protected bike lanes will help spur other communities in Silicon Valley to follow suit.
Vision Zero: SVBC will also continue to pursue Vision Zero through two main programs – Pedal 2 Health in San Jose and a related program in North Fair Oaks. In both communities, dangerous roadway conditions abound. These two programs will work with community members to organize rides and safety workshops to create safer streets for those who depend upon walking and bicycling for transportation. We are also working to bring Vision Zero to the county level in San Mateo County.
Caltrain Bike Parking: Bike parking, bike share and train car bike capacity are the three legs of the I-love-using-my-bike-with-Caltrain stool. Over the past two years, a coalition of organizations including SVBC has worked to increase the overall capacity for bikes on the train. At the same time, cities have been pursuing bike share.
The last piece is parking. Many of us don’t want to bring our bikes on the train. We’d rather park the bike safely and not have to worry that it wont be there when we return.
Last year, one of our priorities was to work with Caltrain to put an initial parking plan together. The next step is to fund the Plan. That’s what we’ll be working on this year.
With a staff of ten covering Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, this is just a snapshot of what we intend to accomplish this year. And, we can’t do it without your support both in volunteer power and through your financial contributions. There’s a lot of work to do to address the three C’s but together, we’ll make cycling cool, convenient and carefree!