Sunnyvale Continues Selling Cars on El Camino but Driving Fewer of them on Murphy and Tasman

On February 7, Sunnyvale City Council moved to convert Murphy Street into a Pedestrian Mall and to extend the temporary lane closure on Tasman Drive until December 2024. The council also clarified the zoning rules to conditionally permit auto sales along El Camino Real.

For African American History Month, Santa Clara County’s Poet Laureate, Tshaka Campbell, recited a poem, “Ally in Ten Octaves.” The final line resonated with your faithful reporter, given the task at hand: “10. We will hum the journey’s chorus to you on the way up, but you, my friend, must write in the words yourself.”

For Public Comment, Margaret Lawson spoke on the nature of Fremont Avenue. The street is built like a six-lane highway with dead landscaping. Lawson advocated for rebuilding Fremont as a four-lane avenue with landscaping and protected bike lanes, citing nearby San Antonio Road in Los Altos as a model. Eric Crock spoke against a proposed dog park beneath the PG&E line between Lois and Ramona, citing the need for children to access unmanicured natural areas. Sharlene Liu, with Bike Sunnyvale, and Jonathan Blum advocated for a newly-proposed study issue on Active Transportation metrics. Angela Hickson and Eileen Lai advocated for safer transportation options for Fremont High School students. Lai, a Sunnyvale School District Board member, also advocated for a new K-8 school to be included in plans to redevelop Moffet Park. Steve Meier voiced concern over a recently dismissed lawsuit involving a stalking incident within Sunnyvale Public Safety.

Permanent Closure of Murphy Avenue

Notice of Intention to Establish a Pedestrian Mall, Murphy Ave.

During the Pandemic, the 100 Block of South Murphy Ave was closed to through traffic. Staff explained that there was widespread support among the public and local merchants to keep Murphy St permanently closed and converted to a pedestrian mall. As a pedestrian mall, the street will require accessibility improvements. Staff recommended paying for those improvements from the city’s Community Benefits Fund, as many local merchants were still recovering from business lost during the Pandemic. Once modifications are complete, the cost of ongoing maintenance will run around $200 per month per business.

Councilmember Mehlinger commented that when it comes around to covering maintenance costs, instead of charging a flat fee per business, the city could look at “leasing” specific portions of the street to business use, making the costs for merchants proportional to their benefit.

Half a dozen residents and business owners spoke in support of the pedestrian mall. Resident Bryce Beagle asked that portions of the pedestrian mall be made available as a public amenity so folks could come and sit at a table and not feel obliged to purchase something. “Right now, there are only a couple uncomfortable metal benches hidden amongst the dining tables.” Beagle also highlighted the need for more and better bike parking. Leia Mehlman elaborated on the need for bike parking and seconded a comment to bring the Saturday Farmer’s Market back up Murphy, as it has been in the past.

Council unanimously signed off on the pedestrian mall plan. This sets a public hearing for May 16. City staff will work on a project to regrade the vehicle parking bays for accessibility.

Temporary Tasman Drive Closure Extended

Tasman Drive is a four-lane road with light rail running down the center and lacking consistent sidewalks. Owing to resident advocacy, one Eastbound lane was closed to provide an ersatz sidewalk and protected bike lane in June 2020. The closure was extended in August 2021. Dennis Ng of Public Works explained that while traffic was increasing about 1% per month, it was still well below pre-Pandemic levels, with no delays in traffic or emergency vehicle response. The city is spending around $1,300 monthly to maintain the temporary barriers. A consultant will join city staff in March to study the installation of a permanent pedestrian and bicycle facility.

Several residents of the Casa de Amigos mobile home park expressed how grateful they are for the temporary lane closure and their hope for a more permanent fix. It was noted that going Westbound, traffic can flow at 50 MPH around curves that limit visibility, which is terrifying for cyclists. In contrast, on the Eastbound side, with the temporary lane closure, motor vehicles travel at a lower speed, and people have room to travel safely.

Casa de Amigos resident Harfijah Oliver explained that before the lane closure, “a lot of residents felt trapped, and we would only walk within our complex. It was not safe at all to walk to the grocery store on the corner of Fair Oaks and Tasman, and now we can. I am very grateful.” Oliver explained that she drives to work at peak times and has never had congestion concerns, either pre-Pandemic or since the lane closure. “My son goes to middle school; he uses the bike lane every single day. It has improved his mental health tremendously. Now, he loves to bicycle. He loves to be outdoors more. It also prepares him for the school day, which is really important for parents and families. It is also sending the right message with reducing Carbon footprint.”

Councilmember Mehlinger moved to extend the lane closure until December 2024, pending the analysis of a permanent lane closure, and contingent on the roadway remaining un-congested and accessible for emergency vehicles. Mehlinger explained, “I mentioned that we were opening Murphy Avenue, not closing it. That comment applies here as well. What we are doing is we are opening a new route for cyclists and pedestrians that previously did not exist. Without this facility, there are no safe routes, on foot or on bicycle, heading southwest from the mobile home parks.” Mehlinger cited the Land Use and Transportation Element of Sunnyvale’s General Plan: “the order of consideration of transportation users shall be: 1) pedestrians, 2) non-automotive, e.g., bicycle, 3) mass transit vehicles, 4) delivery vehicles, 5) single-occupant vehicles.” The City Council agreed unanimously.

Zoning for Car Sales on El Camino Real

Council unanimously amended the zoning standards to clarify that auto sales could be allowed on El Camino Real with a conditional-use permit. Director of Community Development, Trudi Ryan, explained that due to a previous oversight while working on the El Camino Real Specific Plan, auto sales were not allowed. Ryan explained that there was an application pending for a mixed-use development that includes auto sales and that this modification would allow the city to consider allowing the applicant to continue selling automobiles as they add housing.

Council adjourned at 11:21 p.m.


Walking and Biking Tours for Sunnyvale’s Active Transportation Plan

The city is engaged in a year-long Active Transportation Plan to address the needs of bicycle riders, walkers, and children who need Safe Routes to Schools. A series of walking and biking tours have been announced:

Crosstown Biking Tour
When: Saturday, Aug. 3, 10 a.m. to noon
Where: Plaza Del Sol, 200 W. Evelyn Ave. (at the corner of Evelyn Ave. and Francis St.)

El Camino Walking Tour 
When: Tuesday, Aug. 6, 10 to 11:30 a.m.
Where: Peterson Middle School, 1380 Rosalia Ave. (Parking lot at Rosalia Ave.)

Moffett Park Biking Tour 
When: Tuesday, Aug. 6, 1:30 to 3 p.m.
Where: Columbia Park, 739 Morse Ave. (Parking lot at Morse Ave.)

Fair Oaks Park Walking Tour 
When: Friday, Aug 9, 10 a.m. to noon
Where: Fair Oaks Park, 540 N. Fair Oaks Ave. (Parking lot at corner of E. Maude Ave.)

Interested residents are asked to RSVP.

Community Workshops will be scheduled in October and January.

Two Young People were Struck by Vehicles and Injured while Riding Bicycles in Sunnyvale on Tuesday Night

Per reports via Sunnyvale Scanners, two children riding bicycles were struck by vehicles in Sunnyvale on Tuesday night.

The first incident, reported around 6:30pm, occurred at Remington and Sunnyvale Saratoga. A 13 year girl old sustained minor injuries and complained of leg pain.

The second incident, reported shortly after 8:00pm, occurred on Fremont at the 85 highway ramps. A 15 year old boy was struck by a car, reported conscious and breathing.



The roads in Red are identified as Sunnyvale’s High Injury Network. Injuries were sustained by young bicyclists on Tuesday night at the highlighted intersections.

Both of these incidents occurred on Sunnyvale’s High Injury Network, which the city has identified as those roads where most injuries occur, and which should be redesigned to improve safety under the city’s Vision Zero policy.

The City Council will hold a Vision Zero Public Hearing on Tuesday, July 30, at 7pm, at City Hall.


A Passion for Zero Waste in Sunnyvale

In May, Sunnyvale resident Tim Oey gave a TEDx Talk at Homestead High School about his passion for Zero Waste. A few take-aways for me:

  1. Sunnyvale’s web site has a page called: “How to Get Rid of Anything”
  2. You can purchase deli/meat/bulk items from local markets using your own reusable containers.
  3. Bicycling is great. (Out bicycle infrastructure could be a lot better.)
  4. I would add that e-bikes are a great innovation that can expand your range: I bought one last year, and with a baby carrier, often run over 30 miles round trip, including daycare drop-off!

Take 15 minutes to watch Tim’s presentation over on YouTube:

City seeks Public Input: Vision Zero, Caribbean Drive

As part of the ongoing Vision Zero program to eliminate all traffic fatalities, Public Works have identified ten priority locations where they will work to improve safety. Public input is welcome online until 5pm April 27. Project locations include:

  1. El Camino Real between Mary and Mathilda
  2. El Camino Real between Taaffe and Fair Oaks
  3. The El Camino-Fremont-Wolfe triangle
  4. Remington / Fair Oaks between Iris and Manet
  5. El Camino Real between Henderson and Helen
  6. Mathilda and Maude
  7. Fair Oaks between Balsam and Taylor
  8. Fremont between Sunnyvale Saratoga and Floyd
  9. Homestead between Heron and Wolfe
  10. Mary between Remington and Fremont

Sunnyvale_Carribean_Drive_MapJPEGforWebsite 10-16-17

Additionally, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission (BPAC) will be meeting on April 19 at 6:30pm to review options to improve bicycle and pedestrian connections to the Bay Trail near the Water Pollution Control Plant and Caribbean Drive. To date, vigilant citizens have been engaged in this project ensure a safe, high-quality connection between Borregas and the Bay Trail.

Cyclist Death and a Call to Action

Last week, a cyclist was killed by a big rig truck at Borregas and Sunnyvale Ave, near the SMaRT recycling station. This is where Sunnyvale’s principle North-South bicycle corridor connects to the Bay Trail. There is further coverage at the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition.

The SVBC has posted a Call to Action for City Council, which meets Tuesday evening. Folks are invited to contact City Council and request that the consent item for the Green Street Demonstration Program along Carribean Drive be pulled from the agenda and that additional review is made to ensure safety.

Must Be Present to Win – A Bike Advocate Success in Sunnyvale

Originally published by Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, republished with permission from author Tim Oey.


Taking a measure along Caribbean Drive.

In September 2017, Sunnyvale bicyclists almost lost a significant connection between the Borregas Avenue bike route and the Bay Trail. Luckily a few key people were at a public meeting and eventually convinced Sunnyvale staff that a safe route in both directions was critical for bicyclists of all abilities.

Here is the story of how this evolved and some pitfalls along the way.

Sunnyvale’s Water Pollution Control Plant has been running for 60 years and is in the process of a much-needed rebuild so it can continue to serve an expanding population and generate cleaner recycled water to keep the San Francisco Bay healthy. As part of this rebuild, Sunnyvale needed to close Carl Road to allow the Water treatment plant to expand. This would sever the current Borregas to Bay Trail connection as well as close Bay Trail public access parking along Carl Road. The plan was to create new a new route for bicycles and pedestrians to go from Borregas to the Bay Trail as well as a new parking area for cars. Borregas, with its two bike/ped bridges over 101 and 237, is the northern end of Sunnyvale’s premier north-south bicycle route.

The Sunnyvale Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission and its support staff were not informed of this pending major bicycle and pedestrian change, nor were Bay Trail staff. I was invited by Larry Klein, one of Sunnyvale’s council members, to a public outreach meeting to review the final design of what was called the “Caribbean Drive Parking and Trail Access Enhancements Project.” I almost did not attend because it seemed it should be a slam dunk to maintain or even improve this great bicycle and pedestrian connection to the Bay Trail.

Alas, the devil is often in the details.

While local city staff are getting better at handling bicycle and pedestrian issues, they still have a strong bias favoring motor vehicles that lines up with our strong car culture. Call it car privilege.

So the redesign they came up with provided excellent motor vehicle parking as well as reasonable pedestrian facilities but would have required bicyclists to dismount and walk their bikes along a pedestrian sidewalk in the southbound direction for several years until a new bike/ped crossing of Caribbean was built sometime in the future. Even then, bicyclists would be routed on a bike lane along the busy and high-speed Caribbean Drive instead of the much slower Borregas Ave & Carl Drive.


In this Google Map aerial view, the purple line is Carl Road, which will be closed; the green line is the new bike access trail along a water canal; the yellow line is the sidewalk along Caribbean, and the red line is the future at-grade bike/ped crossing of Caribbean.

During the presentation, Sunnyvale staff were quite insistent that there was no space for a multi-use path instead of a sidewalk on the north side of Caribbean and that the plans were too far along to change. When pressed, they came up with alternative detours for bicycles to go through the Yahoo campus or through a little-known back access way behind and through the Sunnyvale SMART station.

Later, I and others visited the site in person to discover that there were about 26 clear feet between Caribbean and the fenced-in landfill that provided plenty of space for a two-way multi-use trail instead of a pedestrian sidewalk. Also, the detours through Yahoo and the SMART station had navigational challenges and some safety issues in addition to being longer and out of the way — sometimes adding a couple of extra miles to what should have been a short connection.

Thanks to a flurry of dialog from some council members, myself, and many other advocates including Bay Trail staff and former council members, Sunnyvale staff did finally come up with a proposal that included a multi-use trail on the north side of Caribbean to provide safe and easy access between Borregas and the Bay Trail for bicyclists of all ages and abilities. This was confirmed in an email communication from Sunnyvale staff in late October.

In the end, we should now get a connection between Borregas and the Bay Trail that is an enhancement over the current Bay Trail connection, but it was touch-and-go for about a month. If not for the quick and concerted effort, we could have been stuck with degraded bicycle access.

Some key takeaways from this experience:

1) Never assume. It is incredible how many ways things can go wrong.

2) Must be present to win. We need bicyclists at as many public meetings as possible to make sure we catch design issues before they are set in stone (literally). It is often surprising how many developments can have a significant impact on bicyclists and pedestrians.

3) Our network is our strength. Only by leveraging our network did we have enough influence to change plans in the very late stages of this project. Also by having a big network, we can cover more territory and meetings. We need a network of alert advocates to ensure we eventually get a vast network of beautiful routes throughout Silicon Valley. Being a member of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition is HUGE! Please encourage your friends to join us!


Tim Oey is currently the president of the Friends of Stevens Creek Trail, vice chair of the Sunnyvale Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission, life member of both the Adventure Cycling Association and League of American Bicyclists, and an SVBC member since 1989.

Caltrain Grade Separation Community Meetings: August 10, 24

(Via Ria Hutabarat Lo, PhD, Sunnyvale Transportation and Traffic Manager)

There are two upcoming community meetings regarding the Caltrain Grade Separation Feasibility Study. This study will assess the feasibility of separating the road and railway at Mary Avenue and Sunnyvale Avenue.


This project is being considered due to safety concerns, congestion delays, pedestrian/bicycle access issues, and noise impacts associated with having active at-grade railway crossings in urbanized communities. Anticipated increases in service frequency along the Caltrain railway line will improve regional access for Sunnyvale commuters but exacerbate concerns associated with railway crossings—if they are not grade separated.

Depending on the selected alternative, the impacts of grade separation could potentially include the following:

  • property acquisitions
  • access modifications
  • temporary road closures

The City of Sunnyvale will hold two community meetings to describe project goals, process, and schedule, and obtain initial community feedback. Each meeting will be tailored to the respective crossing location. Meeting details for each location are as follows:

Mary Avenue Railroad Crossing
6:30 – 8 p.m. Thursday, August 10, 2017
Washington Park Building, 840 W Washington Ave, Sunnyvale
Also: Online Survey

Sunnyvale Avenue Railroad Crossing
6:30 – 8 p.m. Thursday, August 24, 2017
Sunnyvale Library, 665 W Olive Ave, Sunnyvale
Also: Online Survey

Saturday: LinkedIn Neighborhood Project Preview

(Via Adina Levin)

On Saturday morning, LinkedIn is hosting a project preview/open house for the new LinkedIn buildings at 700 Middlefield Road Mountain View, which in an early stage of the development application process.


LinkedIn is proposing an open and permeable campus that creates cyclist cut throughs for commuters. LinkedIn will also be sharing their transportation program with attendees so they see the many ways employees get to work using alternatives to single occupancy vehicles.

All are welcome, pre-registration appreciated so they can plan for food.

Saturday, June 17, 10:00-11:30 a.m.
950 W Maude Ave Sunnyvale
Unity Conference Room, 1st floor

Sunnyvale City Council to consider General Plan revision: more jobs, more transit, less housing

On April 11, City Council is expected to review a revised draft of the Land Use and Transportation Element (LUTE) which is a chapter of the city’s General Plan. The objective is to move Sunnyvale towards being a “Complete Community” that is less dependent on automobiles. Major strategies include:

Village Centers: modify existing shopping districts to include housing. This will increase the housing supply at village centers and expand commercial opportunities for businesses there. Village center will be located near transit lines, improving the odds that residents can commute without driving.

Jobs/Housing Balance: Sunnyvale will add proportionately more jobs than housing. Under present conditions, Sunnyvale has 1.44 jobs per housing unit. By 2035, Sunnyvale will have 1.73 jobs per housing unit. This will make jobs more plentiful, and make it more difficult for residents to secure housing within Sunnyvale.

Multimodal Transit System: city policies will emphasize complete streets, carpooling, mass transit and bicycle infrastructure. As we approach and exceed Sunnyvale’s capacity to transport residents via private automobiles, residents will need better access to more efficient transportation.


Development will focus on transit corridors and village centers. Proportionately more jobs will be added. Most existing residential neighborhoods will remain low density.

What do you think? Let City Council know!

Contact City Council to share your thoughts on the LUTE.

City Council is expected to review the changes next Tuesday, April 11, at 7 pm in the City Council Chambers, 456 W. Olive Ave. Members of the public are welcome to speak at the meeting for up to three minutes each.

UPDATE: the City Council agenda for April 11 has been published. Council will review the Land Use and Transportation Element as agenda item #4.