Last week, a bicyclist was killed by a truck while riding along Caribbean Drive in Sunnyvale. As avid bicyclists, many of us are familiar with this kind of tragedy. Our hearts go out to the friends and family.

Fortunately, there is an immediate opportunity to improve the safety of Caribbean, a well-used bike corridor.

On Tuesday, February 6th, the Sunnyvale City Council will be considering a budget allocation as a part of the Caribbean Green Streets Demonstration Project. This project is a part of a multi-strategy effort to support healthy watersheds and bayland resilience and it serves to implement an element of the City’s plan to improve the Water Pollution Control Plant.

As a part of the project, the plan is to relocate parking to access the Bay Trail. Currently, parking is off of Carl Avenue. The plan is to shift parking to Caribbean.

In the process of shifting parking, Caribbean would be re-striped to include a buffered bike lane adjacent to the relocated parallel parking. There are other components of the re-striping as well and if you’d like to see a set of drawings, they are here.

The question at this point is whether the project has been designed well enough. That is the request we’re making – to push the pause button and re-examine this project. Below are some talking points and a draft letter to send to the City Council. Also below is the letter sent by SVBC. We ask that you do all or one of the following:

  • Send an email to the City Council per the directions below.
  • Attend the City Council meeting and speak to the item as suggested below.

Let us know if you intend to do either/both. We are happy to answer additional questions.

Email Instructions

  • State that you are requesting that the City Council remove the Caribbean Green Streets item from the consent calendar and direct staff to re-evaluate the bicycle element of the project to ensure safety.
  • Suggest that the Council consider slowing speeds on Caribbean as well as a parking protected bike lane. Feel free to emphasize that we don’t know the right answer but at this point it makes sense to take a step back and evaluate whether the design can be improved with safety more at the forefront.
  • Feel free to interject your own experience and why you care about this issue.

Email Council@sunnyvale.ca.gov and Mayor@sunnyvale.ca.gov and copy Ben@bikesiliconvalley.org. If you would like to contact them individually, the webpage for the Council is here. Also, the agenda item is here.

Draft Email:

Dear Mayor and Council,

Thank you for the City’s work to redesign Caribbean Drive through the Caribbean Green Streets Demonstration Project.

Sadly, there was a fatality nearby the project site and as a result, it is prudent to pause and re-examine whether the bicycle elements of the project adequately address the safety of bicyclists and all roadway users.

Please pull the item from consent and direct staff to re-evaluate the project. Whether it is a parking protected bike lane, better signage, green paint or something else, given the importance of Caribbean as a bike commute corridor, I strongly encourage you to direct staff to rethink the project with high quality, safe bike infrastructure in mind.

Thank you,

City Council Meeting Instructions

The meeting starts at 7pm and the consent calendar is right at the beginning. Fill out a speaker card and turn it in. The meeting takes place in the Council chambers at 456 W. Olive Avenue.

  • State your name and your interest in this project (you are a Sunnyvale resident, and/or you commute by bike on Caribbean.)
  • Thank the Council for their attention to this issue given the recent fatality
  • Ask the Council to direct staff to re-evaluate the project with a heightened attention to bicycle safety
  • Reference some potential options to increase safety such as parking protected bike lanes, green paint, slower car speeds on Caribbean. (See SVBC letter for other recommendations).
  • Request that the BPAC be included in the vetting of a redesigned project.

SVBC Letter to Council

February 5th, 2018

Dear Mayor and City Council,

On behalf of Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, we are to writing request that you remove item 1.D, the Caribbean Drive Green Street Demonstration Project, from the consent calendar for further discussion and direction to staff.

Caribbean Drive is a well used corridor for people who commute by bike and SVBC is excited at the prospect of its redesign through the Caribbean Green Street Design Demonstration Project. Unfortunately, while the project may have gone through thoughtful review, due to the recent fatality on Caribbean, it is worth taking a step back. Has the project been designed so that Caribbean is safe and comfortable for all users?

Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition respectfully requests that the City Council direct staff to re-examine the project with an elevated safety sensitivity. Specifically, the Coalition requests staff look at:

Parking Protected Bike Lanes: The speed of automobiles on Caribbean make the feel and reality of riding a bicycle unsafe. By shifting the bike lane so that it is nestled between the sidewalk and on-street parking, parked cars serve as an effective barrier to speeding traffic. This improves safety and importantly creates a less stressful bike experience. Safety, whether founded or not, is the top concern cited by folks who say they want to ride but don’t.

Extend New Treatment: Instead of restricting the redesign of Caribbean to the project area, consider extending the treatment to a longer distance, increasing safety for the duration of Caribbean.

Reduce Speed: SVBC is pleased that part of this project includes removing a lane. That said, the lanes are 11 feet, a width that encourages higher speeds. It is worth evaluating whether both lanes needbe 11 feet or if the inside lane can be 11 with the outside at 10. Many cities are moving towards 10 foot lanes while keeping 11 where there is road usage by trucks.

Leverage Corporate Partners: There are several companies within the immediate area as well as companies that are expanding that would likely welcome the opportunity to partner and help fund a high quality redesign of Caribbean. Google is one that has a track record in identifying key infrastructure gaps and expressing a willingness to provide support.

Truck Driver Education: As a mitigation measure in the EIR, bicyclists will be re-routed during construction. SVBC recommends that truck drivers related to construction be required to go through a training that improves an understanding of how bicyclists think and behave.

Outside of the mitigation measures, SVBC recommends that the City work with the SMaRT station to require truck drivers to undergo similar education. For context, companies like Linkedin, Apple and Google proactively contract with SVBC to deliver shuttle driver training in order to ensure that drivers understand the mindset and behavior of bicyclists when approached by loud and large vehicles.

Time of Day Operations: Outside of the scope of this project, SVBC would also like to highlight a measure employed by the City of Cupertino. There, a child riding to school was killed by a truck. The City was quick to respond with high quality bike infrastructure in conjunction with programmatic solutions. Relevant to the fatality on Caribbean, Cupertino restricts the time of day that trucks can operate, reducing overlap between things like garbage collection trucks and school commute times.

SVBC would like to emphasize that we don’t have the answer. Each street context is different and there are many options and combinations of actions that can serve to advance safe streets. That said, it is prudent to take the time to look at high quality bicycle options that help ensure safety. We also recommend that the BPAC be included in a re-evaluation of this project.

We appreciate the City’s attention to safety for all roadway users and look forward to working with you closely on the upcoming bike plan. Thank you for your consideration of our comments.

Sincerely,

Shiloh Ballard

Executive Director

Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition