December 18, 2012 by ladyfleur
Dear Ms. Goodrich,
I am concerned about remarks you made on the role of bicycles in the Grand Boulevard Initiative during the “Reinventing El Camino Real” panel discussion on KQED. In response to a listener who said he found it difficult to find good crossings on El Camino Real, you replied that (a) most cities have parallel routes that are more suitable for bicycling and (b) you have concerns about bicyclists riding alongside the fast-moving traffic that is common on El Camino Real.
I am a resident of Mountain View who rides a bicycle as my primary form of transportation. I share your concern about encouraging bicyclists to ride alongside fast traffic. I avoid riding on El Camino Real because of the fast cars, plus parked cars and frequent driveways. Given its current design, it’s not pleasant or safe.
But parallel routes are not the answer. Every week I shop or dine at destinations on or across El Camino Real like True Value Hardware, Cost Plus, Performance Bicycles, Whole Foods, CVS, Dittmer’s and Hobee’s. I approach most stores from the side streets like Latham Street, but unless the destination is on a corner, I still have to either ride on the sidewalk (bad) or on El Camino Real (worse).
If you have multiple destinations on El Camino, riding back to the parallel route is inconvenient at best. I challenge you to find a route from Trader Joes to Dittmers then back to Whole Foods without using El Camino Real. This was my challenge at Thanksgiving. In this area the sidewalks are narrow and crowded with posts, garbage cans, trees and people walking, so I “took the lane” in the roadway with the car traffic. I got lucky that the drivers were respectful and polite that day.
I know Caltrans considers El Camino Real a highway, but it’s Mountain View’s primary retail corridor. It needs to serve as many people as possible with the fewest vehicles. In our moderate density city, bicycles must be part of the mix. There are far more people within biking distance than walking distance, and adding more cars is not a healthy option for our people or for our businesses. More people on bikes mean more shoppers with less parking required and less traffic.
I am asking for your organization’s full support of bicycle facilities on El Camino Real, not just for bicyclists, but for the people who currently drive to shop there. Many of them would bike if it were a more safe, comfortable, encouraged option.
Parallel routes are not the answer. El Camino Real is our city’s marketplace.
Bicycle Shopper & Big Spender