Santa Clara could have a bike boulevard

Make Los Padres a through street at Benton for bikes only.

I’m a dreamer, so my suggestion for a “bike boulevard” in Santa Clara fits the bill.

Palo Alto City Council member Ellen Fletcher championed the concept back in the 1980s, and with support of Palo Alto’s pro bicycling residents, made it reality.

It’s no big deal, but every little bit helps. Bryant Avenue in Palo Alto runs northwest-southeast and most stop signs are on cross streets. I’ve ridden it dozens of times and it’s always a pleasure. It helps when the houses are multi-million-dollar mansions.

So here’s my vision for a Santa Clara bike boulevard — Los Padres Boulevard.

I chose this street because: 1) It’s already a bike lane; 2) It leads to the San Tomas Aquino / Saratoga Creek Trail, the city’s fabulous recreation path that connects to the Bay Trail; 3) It passes by several schools and there are hardly any commercial businesses.

These are the changes I would make:
Saratoga Ave. – Give Los Padres traffic light priority. No more than 15 second wait.
Forbes Ave. – Install roundabout. Add yield signs on Forbes.
Homestead Rd. – Give Los Padres traffic light priority. No more than 15 second wait.
Benton St. – Block off Los Padres on both sides. Los Padres only a through road for bikes.
Anna Dr. – Install roundabout. Add yield signs on Anna.
Highway 82 – El Camino Real – Signal reduced to 30 seconds maximum wait time.
Graham Lane/Bray Ave. – Install roundabout. Yield signs on Bray/Graham.
(Graham is actually a better through route for bikes, followed by left on Warburton. The only negative is having to turn left from Los Padres, as it stands today.
Warburton Ave. – Remove stop signs on Los Padres and add roundabout.
Cabrillo Ave. – Install roundabout. Stop signs on Cabrillo.
Monroe St. – No through southbound traffic onto Los Padres. Right or left only.

The main change is closing off Los Padres at Benton, eliminating through traffic. Local residents would be mildly inconvenienced, but they would benefit by not having cars going by. Schools along Los Padres could encourage bike riding.

I have mixed feelings for roundabouts. On the one hand they slow traffic, but they also cause car-bike conflicts. In a world with autonomous cars it wouldn’t be an issue, but humans have little patience for obstacles like bikes.

I’ve ridden Eden Avenue in Campbell dozens of times and it has roundabouts. I’ve had issues with impatient drivers cutting me off on rare occasions.

The other bike boulevard Santa Clara could create is on Forbes Avenue. That way we would have a north-south and east-west route through the city.

I’ve lived in Santa Clara since 1991 and served on the bike committee.

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