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[whitespace] Cupertino Drafts First Citywide Bicycle Plan

Cupertino--Late last week in a regional poll, residents ranked traffic as the No. 1 issue facing the Bay Area, and the timing couldn't have been more perfect for Cupertino bike advocates.

In the same week, the city approved its first-ever comprehensive Bicycle Transportation Plan, which strives to better the 22 major bicycle routes throughout Cupertino.

Besides identifying the routes, the plan maps out a potential $12 million in improvements that the report's authors say are needed to make them even more bicycle-friendly.

The city's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee worked with a consulting company, Wilbur Smith Associates, to pen the plan, which Public Works director Bert Viskovich delivered to City Council on Dec. 7.

"Pieces of [the plan] have been around for a long time," Viskovich said at the meeting, adding that the need for improved bike transportation was previously presented as part of the city's General Plan.

"The important part now, is that there's a plan that spells everything out in one document," he said. "For bicyclists, it shows a positive commitment from the city and that there's a plan to be followed."

There's no real timetable set to complete the items in the plan. Some are awaiting completion now; minor improvements could be finished within a year and others will take many years to complete.

The plan outlines simple goals like re-striping De Anza Boulevard to include bike lanes. More lofty goals include building a $3 million overpass on Mary Avenue over I-280.

It also spells out ways businesses can attract more bicycle commuters, by providing safer parking and employee incentives for cycling to work.

Besides setting such goals, the document may enable the city to receive grant money from the state and county for bicycle safety improvements on city streets.

"There's a lot of grant money out there for bicycle projects," he said.

The plan lists projects in terms of priority, from high to low. One "high priority" item includes a proposal to create the De Anza Historic Trail--a three-mile path that follows the same route as the current railroad tracks at the base of the foothills from Los Altos into Cupertino.

The trail, a long-term project, is the single most expensive item in the report, with an estimated cost of $3.4 million. According to Viskovich, approvals from many different agencies will be necessary to get the project off the ground, so it probably won't become a reality for several years.

Additionally, the report lists a number of ways the city can promote bicycle use. Recommendations include a city ordinance that would require growing companies to install showers and lockers in their buildings, as well as a "White Bike Program," where residents could use city-bought bicycles for free, leaving them at their destination for others to use afterwards.

Those hoping to see the fruit of the BPAC's labor are bicyclists themselves.

Kenny Burt, an employee at the Cupertino Bike Shop, said that Cupertino already has a better system of bike routes than many other cities he's biked in.

Burt, a commuting and recreational cyclist, said that Cupertino has done a good job of creating routes off of major city streets.

"They have designated back street bike routes which is nice for the people who don't know the area as well. It's all routed out for you," he said. "Cupertino's streets are a tad bit cleaner, and they've got bike lanes on all the main drags."

Burt said that one of the things he'd like to see improved for cyclists are paths dedicated solely to bicycles and pedestrians. Any chance to get far away from cars, he said, is a good thing for riders.
Steve Enders

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