CIP Funding of 4 Bicycle Pedestrian Projects Was Approved Unanimously!
One very good thing to come out of the meeting was that Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funding was approved for 4 bicycle and pedestrian projects, including the Linda Vista trail, the land for which was donated to the city by former Mayor Richard Lowenthal which will connect the Stevens Creek Trail from McClellan Ranch to Linda Vista Park:
- $1,275,438 for the Orange & Byrne Ave Sidewalk
- $242,941 for the McClellan Road Bike Corridor from Byrne to Torre
- $65,000 for the Bicycle Wayfinding Projects (signs to be put up around town)
- $595,500 for the Linda Vista Trail project
Intense Effort by Vice-Mayor Chao to Stop Trail Projects
Vice-Mayor Chao argued strongly for killing the Linda Vista trail, Carmen Bridge project, and Regnart Creek trail.
She tried multiple times to kill the Linda Vista Trail project, suggested that the city fund only half the project (approx $300,000) and let the community raise the remaining $300,000, then finally voted for it at 2:15am, when it became clear that the other 4 council members were planning to vote to fund the project.
Vice-Mayor Chao repeatedly expressed significant frustration with how bicycle and pedestrian projects are prioritized.
She stated that the city should focus on on-street biking and bike boulevards and discontinue work on off-street multi-use walking and biking paths like Linda Vista Trail, Carmen bridge, and Regnart Creek trail
Her main argument for doing this is
that bike boulevards where students on bike share the road with cars will improve student safety more than off-street trails completely separated from cars. Her position drew an immediate rebuttal from Mayor Scharf and council member Sinks who stated that
bike boulevards are not protected bike lanes. It will not give people the perception of safety.
Mayor Scharf and council members Sinks and Paul all stated
there is no situation of "either/or" where they city must choose to either fund bike boulevards or off-street multi-use projects, the city can fund both
. Roger Lee, Director of Public Works, also explained that the city has made very good progress on the Bike Boulevards and has funding for Phases I and II, with Phase II in the process of being implemented.
Transparency of Project Priorities
Vice-Mayor Chao repeatedly claimed the process for prioritizing walking and biking projects is not transparent and she doesn't understand how a project gets moved up in the priorities. Despite significant prioritization details being provided by city staff, she continued to claim that bike boulevards have been pushed down in priority, without offering any supporting data.
Roger Lee responded that both the 2016 Bike Plan and the 2018 Ped Plan went through a very transparent and long prioritization process with an extensive 18-months long period of community input for each plan. Mayor Scharf and council member Sinks concurred.
As a result of this vigorous push by Vice-Mayor Chao, two items were added to the agenda for the next City Council meeting on August 6:
- Review the timeline of all 3 phases of Bike Boulevards project
- Examine the process by which priorities are set for bicycle and pedestrian projects. This does not include moving projects up or down in priority.
Vice-Mayor Chao has expressed a clear desire to change the priorities of walking and biking projects based on her personal preferences. We need to remain active and vocal, as this is clearly going to be an ongoing issue.