Around town, I have heard a few random remarks about the new First Street streetscape that the roadway seems quite narrow. This was reinforced when a friend sent me a photo of a sign that had appeared in Peet's Coffee recently. The sign said:
If you have ridden your bicycle through the "Gaunlet" of the new First Street Phase One and now know they are going to do the same to the rest of First Street (see drawing below), maybe now is a good time to express your feelings to the members of the city council that approved it.
This was followed by the names and email addresses of the current City Council, and an annotated map of the streetscape.
I remember well the September 8, 2009 City Council meeting where the current streetscape was approved. There was considerable debate about the width of the roadway relative to the sidewalk.
Then-mayor Megan Satterlee argued in favor of narrowing the sidewalks between State St. and Edith Avenue in order to provide better accommodation for bicycles, especially for bicycles that might travel down Los Altos Avenue, which continues as First Street at Edith Avenue. She did support the as-built design between State and Main streets, noting that the increased foot traffic between Main and State Streets probably justified the current sidewalk width in that area.
In the end, the Council voted 4-1, with Mayor Satterlee dissenting, to approve the streetscape as presented instead of one of the alternatives that might have better accommodated bicycles. I urge interested parties to review the video of the Council meeting, by going to http://losaltosca.gov/citycouncil/online/index.html and selecting the meeting and clicking "Video".
The agenda item begins at 53:20 into the recording and lasts nearly an hour, and gives considerable insight into the way that bicycle transportation is viewed by our Council. The key part of the discussion begins about 1:45:00 in the recording, where Mayor Satterlee made the following comment:
"...connecting with that Class 2 bike lane that comes from Los Altos Avenue, and providing opportunity to park your bike and visit downtown, I think strikes a better balance than this which really puts bikes last."
In subsequent discussion, however, other Council members argued in favor of wider sidewalks.
Two minor errors in the sign that had appeared at Peets: The project that was approved doesn't affect the entire length of First Street, just the section between Main Street and Edith Avenue. Also, it was Lou Becker who voted in favor of this design, not current Council member Jarrett Fishpaw.
If you have feelings about this project, either in favor of or in opposition to the current design, it's a fine idea to let your Council know your opinions. While it may be too late to influence this particular project, public input on our transportation facilities, and the knowledge that we will hold our Council accountable for their actions in this area, is vital.