Palo Alto's drive to make local streets safer for bicyclists and pedestrians will get a boost tonight (Monday), when the City Council is scheduled to discuss and adopt an ambitious proposal to expand bike lanes, create new bike boulevards and improve crosswalks throughout the city.
The City Council is scheduled to upgrade the city's official land-use bible, the Comprehensive Plan, to incorporate the Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plan, the draft of which was released to great fanfare in July. The plan includes a slew of pedestrian and bicycle projects and initiatives, including an overcrossing at Highway 101, new bicycle boulevards, a network of trails that could be shared by pedestrians and bicyclists, and colored bike lanes. It also seeks to improve the connections between Palo Alto and bikeways beyond city limits.
According to Jaime Rodriguez, the city's chief transportation official, the cost of building and improving the city's system of bike lanes, trails and roads would cost about $7 million, while building new crossings would cost between $17 million and $27 million over the next five to 10 years. He wrote in a report that staff expects up to 75 percent of the cost to come from outside sources, including grants from the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
Another $4 million could be taken from Stanford University Medical Center Sustainability Fund, which the university set up as a condition for its massive expansion of hospital facilities.
Staff is also suggesting a public-private partnership, including a formation of a "Friends of Palo Alto Bicycles," a group that would help identify funding sources for bicycle projects.
The new bicycle plan is the city's first major upgrade of its transportation vision since 2003. Unlike the previous plan, it also includes a pedestrian section, Rodriguez wrote in a report.
"Everyone, whether a motorist or a bicyclist, is a pedestrian at the end of their trip, and the Plan aims to improve pedestrian facilities with new enhanced crosswalk standards, improved warning and advisory signage, technology enhancements, and an aggressive expansion of shared use pathways."
The council meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 250 Hamilton Ave.