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Cyclists could get lanes along Mary and Borregas avenues in Sunn

San Jose Mercury News: Cyclists could get lanes along Mary and Borregas avenues in Sunnyvale

By Tiffany Carney
Cupertino Courier
Posted: 12/30/2009 05:23:40 PM PST
Updated: 12/30/2009 05:23:40 PM PST

Bicyclists may have an easier and safer way to navigate Borregas and Mary avenues in the future.
Council voted to approve funds for a study to improve portions of the two streets to accommodate both vehicles and bicycles.

The Mary Avenue Street Space Allocation Study will examine Borregas Avenue between Route 237 and Highway 101 to identify necessary changes for the installation of bicycle lanes.
"It will provide a safe path for those who commute by bicycle into the Moffett Park area," said John Pilger, Sunnyvale’s communications officer.

The residential street currently accommodates one lane of vehicles in each direction, and parked vehicles are permitted on both sides of the street.

According to Pilger, the road will have to be restriped to allow for a bike lane, generally 5-feet wide, in each direction.
Council voted Dec. 1 to approve funds for the Mary Avenue Street Space Allocation Study with $160,000 from the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority Bicycle Expenditure Program.

Mary Avenue between Fremont Avenue and Maude Avenue will also be studied for modification using $52,000 from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District Transportation Fund for Clean Air for bicycle and pedestrian improvements.
"We are going to see what we can to do accommodate all modes of travel, whether it is cars or bicycles or whatever, to make sure they will safely share the street," Pilger said.

The nearly three miles of roadway has two lanes in each direction for vehicle traffic for the most part, but in some stretches has three lanes in each direction, with a 40-mile-per-hour speed limit.

The road could be reconfigured to allow for bicycles.

According to Pilger, the city council will make a final decision on whether to change the streets.

Funds for any infrastructure changes will be approved in the future. "We really have to have a project before we can go look at funding," Pilger said.

Adjustments to the street could include restriping, a total or partial elimination of street parking, a reduction of vehicle traffic lanes, installation of medians or wider outside lanes for both bicycles and parked cars.

Jackson is also the chair of the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory commission. He was not speaking on behalf of the commission. Some are opposed to a reduction in vehicle lanes, fearing that traffic congestion will occur; others covet street parking in residential areas and are not willing to sacrifice that space for cyclists. Residents have differing opinions on the issue, Kevin Jackson is an avid cyclist who supports the roadway reconfigurations.

"The idea is to reduce the conflicts between bikes and cars," Jackson said, adding that roadways that do not cater to both modes of transportation lead to road rage, impatience and confrontation.

Roadways that are too small can be dangerous to cyclists, he said.

"Motorists think they can squeeze by and expect cyclists to ride in the zone of the doors of parked cars," Jackson said.
He believes "road dieting" could be one solution. He said the concept minimizes the overall number of lanes on a street, allowing for an extended area at the curb and causes vehicle traffic to move smoothly.

"The way these things are often mistakenly presented is that it is sometimes a contest between bicyclists and cars," Jackson said.

Jackson points to Mary Avenue, south of Fremont Avenue, as a roadway that is not as dangerous as the others. The road has fewer lanes and a wide area at the curb, with a white line, for parked cars and cyclists.

"The goal is to improve conditions so the people who are thinking about [bicycle commuting] won’t feel intimidated by it," Jackson said.