One of my longest-standing memories of growing up in the Bay Area has always been the packs of cyclists making their way down Foothill Expressway on weekend mornings. People of all different age groups, mostly in colorful spandex, chatting with friends as they glide down the bike lane on the way to grab coffee at Peet's. It was a cherished sight, and one that I was fortunate to join this year as a returning cyclist.
Yet, as I made my way up and down Foothill Expressway on those weekend mornings, it became more and more clear that the road — but especially the bike lane in either direction — needed some serious work.
Thankfully, Santa Clara County has taken those notions into effect, and announced on Friday that the Expressway will soon be revamped for cyclists young and old to feel safer on the road.
Beginning this past week, the county began construction improvements for bike lane improvements on Foothill Expressway, between San Antonio Road and El Monte Avenue in Los Altos. This area in particular is heavily trafficked by cyclists, many of whom stop in the nearby downtown Los Altos strip to frequent spots like Peet's, Starbucks, Bluestone Lane, and the other businesses that make the area thrive.
The construction began following community listening sessions, held by the County Roads and Airports Department and the City of Los Altos, aiming to collect public insights on bicycle movement and transitions at the two intersections. This feedback was then incorporated into the project design and execution, with funding for the project coming from Measure B, SB1, TDA, the City of Los Altos and the County Road Fund.
The project has been in progress for over four years, with the first community meeting held on June 29, 2017, and the original project advertisement released to the public in Nov. 2019. The bid was then awarded on Jan. 29, 2020, with the first pre-construction meeting taking place on March 18, 2020. Due to pandemic shutdowns and delays, construction was pushed, beginning in July 2021.
The updates to the bike lane will allow for greater transition for cyclists, easing traffic congestion and lowering accident risk. The project includes an extension of the painted transition zone to 250 feet; green paint striping before and after the bicycle transition zone; and additional lighting in the bicycle transition zone.
Santa Clara County held additional public meetings and received community feedback via email over the course of the pandemic. On July 27, the county presented revised options for traffic lane markings to improve cyclists' safety and comfort; these options were then discussed at a meeting of the City of Los Altos Complete Streets Commission on Aug. 10.
Currently, the county aims to finalize construction by Oct. 22. With these new updates, isn't it time to break out your favorite fall spandex and get back on the road?
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