Bike improvements around town

New bike lane markings on Empire Street.

I’ve noticed a couple of nice improvements for cyclists around town in the last couple of months. First, a combination of on-street bike lanes and bike routes marked with sharrows was completed on Empire Street near downtown San Jose, from First Street all the way to Twenty-First. This is a nice choice for a bike route because its got relatively low car traffic, but it connects up the Japantown light rail station with two city parks and Empire Gardens Elementary School, not to mention coming within a block of Japantown itself.

The second is pretty much what I consider the other side of town, but over in Santa Clara and Cupertino they’re just striping in bike lanes along Pruneridge Avenue from Wolfe Road to just a couple blocks east of Lawrence Expressway. They cut down four traffic lanes to one vehicle lane and one bike lane in each direction, plus a left-turn lane down the middle. This will connect a bunch of people up with the Cupertino Village shopping center, and of course the future Apple mothership on Pruneridge.

That Pruneridge change is hopefully a sign of things to come. Driving home along that road, I could see the new lane configuration fitting in pretty much all the way from Cupertino to First Street in San Jose. And that would be a big help to fixing one of the most glaring chasms in the valley’s biking infrastructure: Highway 880 and 17 are like the grand canyon breaking up our east-west bike routes. Looking at the VTA’s bike route map, Between downtown Campbell and the Guadalupe River trail at the south end of SJC there is not a single designated bike route that crosses Highway 17/880 east to west. Break away from the highway a little bit around the west side of the airport and its possible to draw a line from Alviso to Los Gatos that isn’t crossed by a single recognized bike route.

A safe bike lane along Pruneridge and Hedding would be a great first step at bridging that gaping east-west divide in our biking landscape.

(The orange and gold roads on the map aren’t bike routes — they’re roads considered especially dangerous for bikes)

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