Road diets and protected bike lanes the new norm

Tantau Avenue and Apple HQ looking north. Will employees ride bikes to work?


While I don’t think road diets and protected bike lanes will make much of a dent in the way people get to work, those who do ride bikes today will not be complaining about changes coming down the road.

Local residents (read Nextdoor) were up in arms about the road diet that went into effect on Hedding Street in November between Coleman Avenue and Winchester Boulevard in San Jose.

Some people who contributed their thoughts favored the change, but most were against it. The main argument — and a valid one — is that too few cyclists take Hedding and the road change would have little effect.

On Nov. 14, from 6:43 a.m. – 9 a.m., I conducted a traffic count of bicycles and pedestrians at the Hedding – Park intersection in San Jose. Here’s the result:

Cyclists:
Hedding – 30
Park – 27

Walkers:
Hedding – 21
Park- 52

The transportation/housing problems we face today are systemic and a road diet for one street isn’t going to make much difference. However, it certainly does make the pedestrian’s walk and the cyclist’s ride safer. I noticed minor backups on Hedding eastbound, but it was hardly apocalyptic as characterized by some who posted comments. By 9 a.m. there was no traffic to speak of.

Apple backs protected bike lanes

Now Apple is pumping $1.8 million into Cupertino city coffers for protected bike lanes on Stevens Creek Boulevard. With their spaceship HQ about to open, they must be nervous about its affect on commuters.

Over the years I’ve slowly changed my thinking about protected bike lanes and multi-use trails from neutral to all-in. It’s the best way to reduce the number one objection to bike commuting — dangerous in traffic.

The plan is to head west from Tantau in phases. Details have yet to be worked out.

I’ve long advocated greater commitment by corporations for supporting non-auto commuting. They should flat out pay employees to ride to work, as well as cover bus and train expenses. The use of corporate buses is a step in the right direction.

As far as systemic changes, we need to see more people living close to work. City governments are doing their part now by requiring sufficient housing near business parks. Our sacred American way of life– single-family homes — is a big part of the problem. European and Asian communities don’t have them. Concentrating populations makes commuting by bike and public transit less of a burden without urban sprawl.

In the meantime, our governments are doing their best with what they have to work with. They look to the bicycle. It’s a fantastic machine, no doubt, but making it the commuter silver bullet is asking a lot.

5 Responses to “Road diets and protected bike lanes the new norm”

  1. Robert Neff Says:

    I work near there. Despite the buffered bike lane on Stevens Creek in Cupertino now, it is still a pretty intense auto street. With all the driveways in and out, and the cars going 40 mph, I’ll try to be hopeful, but I don’t think it will be better used than it is now in Cupertino. I think improving connectivity on alternatives might be a better place to spend that money. Tantau is fine now, but I’m worried about when it opens.

    But the real bike access problems from the Apple White Castle go East. We need bike lanes on Pruneridge to connect to Hedding. Bike lanes on Homestead that cannot be blocked by parked cars at 6:00 pm. Better connections to Moorpark. (a proposed, but unfunded bike bridge over 280 at John Mise Park would connect Moorpark to Pruneridge via neighborhood streets like Cronin.)

  2. Ray Hosler Says:

    I’d also like to see Saratoga Creek Trail go under 280 and connect to Pruneridge. Nothing is impossible.

    I used to work at Tandem HQ on Tantau. I’d ride home for lunch on Pruneridge. Traffic not as bad in the early 90s. Would like to see the road diet finished on Pruneridge.

    Stevens Creek Blvd and protected bikeway seems impractical. Too many driveways.

    Measures need to be taken to keep cars off Inverness Way once Apple HQ opens. That should be designated for bikes/residents only,

  3. Robert Neff Says:

    Of course traffic “should not” divert from 280 to Homestead, and then from Homestead to Inverness, but high tech (Waze) is helping fill every connection at commute times. Maybe Inverness should get speed humps and traffic circles.

  4. Ray Hosler Says:

    For a look at the world being forced upon us, check this YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCKf-xHM6KSw67qvgkqAcnQ

  5. Jon Blum Says:

    Like Robert, I work near Apple, and I agree with his comments. The impact of Apple’s new campus remains to be seen, but we have already had lots of disruption caused by road closures for construction, and interestingly, for “special events” at the site – not very neighborly, and I hope it does not continue. I would not be surprised by gridlock on Homestead, Tantau, and Wolfe, and heavy traffic in Birdland. Homestead and Tantau are preferable to Stevens Creek and Wolfe for cyclists, due to the innumerable driveways on Stevens Creek and the 280 ramps on Wolfe. Homestead is still no picnic during commute hours, as there are lots of driveways leading to frequent right hooks. Inverness and Alberta, despite frequent stop signs, are more tolerable. My commute is to the west, so I can’t comment on the routes to the east.

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