At its May 8 meeting, Sunnyvale City Council decided to adopt staff’s preferred design proposal (above, pink) for Caribbean Drive as part of a phased rebuild of the Water Pollution Control Plant. The disappointing outcome followed renewed interest from the community after the bicycle fatality back in February, as well as subsequent request from Council to have staff consider more robust alternatives that prioritize safety for all roadway users.
SVBC advocated for the “Other Alternative Evaluated (above, blue),” as it would’ve not only created a physical barrier between motor vehicles and bicyclists, but also significantly reduced points of conflict between foot and bike traffic by creating a Class IV protected bike lane next to the multi-use path.
Yet the alternative adopted by Council prioritizes parking, in that it removes the existing bike lane and replaces it with an 8’ buffer for people to exit and unload parked cars—leaving bicyclists heading westbound to straddle fast moving motorists on their left and queuing/departing vehicles on their right. While positive, the addition of a multi-use path in staff’s preferred alternative doesn’t adequately address safety and access to surrounding bicycle infrastructure in the area with an 8′ parking buffer on the other side of bio-retention planters.
In terms of safety for bicyclists this is far from ideal. And we thank Councilmembers Klein and Smith for voting in favor of the “Other Alternative Evaluated” that would’ve set an important standard for bicycle safety to eliminate all traffic fatalities and serious injuries on our roads. We also thank Pamela Putman, Betsy Megas, Scott Mace, Tim Oey, John Cordes, Kevin Jackson, and Richard Mehlinger for their public comments in support of a robust alternative for bicyclists at the May 8 meeting.
Given this design proposal is limited to a small section of Caribbean Drive, the next phases of this project present future opportunities to engage the planning process, in addition to the City’s impending update of its bike plan and adoption of Vision Zero. So stay tuned and watch this space, but more importantly, stay engaged!