This week multiple cities on the Peninsula Corridor are reviewing Caltrain station area policy and access decisions. From South to North, here’s what’s going on in San Jose, Mountain View, Redwood City, Belmont, and San Mateo.
San Jose Community Meeting, Diridon Station Area Plan
On Monday, April 7 starting at 6:30pm, the City of San Jose is hosting a community meeting laying out the next steps for the Diridon Station Area Plan, which is expected to be reviewed for approval by the Planning Commission and City Council over the next several months. City Council faces a major turning point with the Diridon Plan – will it make the tough decisions to actually make the area walkable, bikeable, and transit-supportive, fullfilling the city’s General Plan goals? Or will it revert to the vehicle-dominant default, conceding to SAP Arena’s requests to have enough parking for more than 80% of people to drive?
If you want to help encourage San Jose to make the Diridon Station Area a walkable urban place that takes advantage of the transit, and want to catch up on what’s happening, this is a good meeting to attend.
Mountain View Shoreline Transportation Study
On Tuesday April 8 starting at 5pm, Mountain View City Council is reviewing interim results of the Shoreline Transportation Study. The study covers proposals for improving the transit and bike connections between downtown Mountain View and North Bayshore (where Google is), in order to achieve Mountain View’s drivealone goal.
Good proposals include:
- Protected bike lane on Shoreline (several options)
- Several options to speed the shuttles, which currently take ~30 minutes to travel the 3 miles from Caltrain
- Short-term, a bike/ped light cycle for the gnarly Castro/Moffett/Central intersection
Less good proposals include:
- Pedestrian overcrossing of Central. Pedestrian crossings should be designed as part of the Castro/Central grade separation that will be needed for more rail capacity
- A parking garage with more spaces to meet the needs of growing transit ridership. Only about 35% of Mountain View Caltrain users park at the station today (Figure 2.9). Given the high share of non-driving already, Mountain View should work with Caltrain and the Transportation Management Association to work on further reducing driving before investing in more parking capacity.
If you use Mountain View Caltrain station and go to North Bayshore, fill out this survey if you haven’t done so already.
Monday: Redwood City Climate Action Plan needs stronger transportation goals
On Monday night, Redwood City City Council is getting an update on progress on the City’s Climate Action Goals.
The good news is that the City is making progress on energy efficiency, where the city has strong and clear goals. The City is also taking some helpful and incremental steps on transportation, including implementing carshare with 613 participants and bikeshare with 140 participants, making tweaks to parking pricing, and marketing these programs with temporary grant funding.
But the city has weak goals to reduce carbon emissions for transportation – 8% overall, with no specific goals for the downtown area and key employment centers such as Redwood Shores. By contrast, Mountain View has set a goal of a 45% drivealone rate for the North Bayshore area, where Google is, and Palo Alto is about to set specific goals for the Downtown Area.
Redwood City has been doing very well with downtown infill development, and putting a price on parking. Nearby cites are realizing that this is not quite enough – it is important to have clear goals, stronger use of transit pass discounts so that transit is cost-effective compared to driving, shuttles and bikeshare for locations 1-2 miles from downtown, and a pro-active program to market the program and manage to the goals.
If you live in Redwood City and want to see the city set stronger transportation goals, send a note to Redwood City City Council.
Tuesday, April 8, 6pm: Belmont City Council reviews flawed recommendations for Ralston Corridor
On Tuesday April 8, Belmont City Council will be holding a study session to review a set of flawed proposals for Ralston Corridor which do not go far enough to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety. If you live in Belmont and/or use the Belmont Caltrain station please come to this meeting if you can and give public comment
Here are some of the problems with the current proposal:
Need to Reduce speeds - The current proposal does nothing to slow car traffic on Ralston, despite traffic speeds of 45+ in school areas, an accident rate 2x the state average, and speed being the primary cause of collisions on Ralston. The Council should take action to: 1) lower speed limits on Ralston, and 2) narrow vehicle lanes, which would would reduce vehicle speeds and increase space for bicycle lanes.
The traffic consultant has acknowledged that the City can lower speed limits on Ralston given the high accident rates, abundance of schools and elderly homes, steep grade, bicycle traffic, and afternoon glare. However, Council is claiming that they have no power to lower vehicle speeds because most people are speeding already (the 85th percentile guideline). Exceptions are possible given the aforementioned objective factors.
Install continuous bicycle lanes - The current proposal has few additional bike lanes on Ralston. As a result, the majority of Ralston will still be without bike lanes, forcing cyclists to mix with traffic moving 40 mph faster. This increases the likelihood of vehicle vs. bike collisions and slows car traffic caught behind cyclists.
Keep parks safer - The current proposal recommends that cyclists get off Ralston and instead bike through the heart of Twin Pines park. This is dangerous given numerous of small children in the park at playgrounds and birthday parties.
Invest in safe pedestrian crossing and save money on parking. The current proposal does not adding back the midblock crosswalk on Ralston connecting the downtown area, which would be a major improvement for pedestrians and people walking bicycles to get from one side of the downtown area to the other. Belmont is considering investing large sums of money to build more parking supply on the logical south side of Ralston. There is plenty of parking on the other side, but people don’t know it’s there, and don’t feel safe crossing the street. Having the long uphill walk between crosswalks is antithetical to the city’s goals to have a more walkable downtown area.
Monday, April 7, 7pm. San Mateo City Council set for final review of downtown parking plan
On Monday, April 7 at 7pm, the San Mateo City Council is set to review the Downtown Parking Plan for final approval. The plan was developed with extensive community outreach, study, and Council review leading to a good proposal with strong community support from business and residents.
Key elements in the plan include
- increasing the price of parking
- changing the price to incent use of structures and free up valuable onstreet spaces
- encouraging demand-based adjustments along the lines of SFPark
- signage and technology to make better use of existing space
- investing in transportation demand management via a Downtown Transportation Management Association to reduce demand for parking
The TDM provision is particularly helpful in that it can enable the City to reduce downtown trips, which will help the City to do infill development in a transit-rich and walkable downtown. For example, the proposed Essex apartment building, which is triggering fears of traffic among some residents, could to contribute to the downtown TMA, providing transit passes, carshare and bikeshare to help reduce trips, not only from residents, but others in the neighborhood.
The City of San Mateo is having a harder time filling areas that are more auto-oriented. To meet the needs of today’s businesses, and to provide enough housing to avoid displacement of existing residents, it will help for San Mateo to be able to do infill development in the downtown area while reducing traffic and parking challenges.
If you live or work in San Mateo, send a note to the City Council, via the City Clerk thanking them for the good work on the parking policy, and encourage them to take the next steps to reduce vehicle trips downtown.