Lured by the promise of free boba and the opportunity to support a good cause, dozens of Sunnyvale students and community members met at the bike racks at Homestead High School on March 25 and took a ride down Homestead Road.
The event was organized by Bike Sunnyvale, the Sunnyvale chapter of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. The ride was designed to draw attention to the need for a permanent bicycle lane along the northbound side of Homestead Road.
“[Homestead Road] currently has part-time bike lanes…and then for the rest of the time, it’s parking,” said Ari Feinsmith, the team leader for Bike Sunnyvale. “That’s really dangerous for cyclists who are traveling during those hours because, then, if there’s a car parked in the bike lane, they have to weave into traffic, and that’s really dangerous.”
Feinsmith worries that the part-time bicycle lane from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday makes it dangerous for students that need to go to school early or stay late. An avid rider himself, Feinsmith says even he wouldn’t feel safe doing it.
“Traffic moves very quickly on Homestead Road, and I would not feel comfortable having to weave in and out of traffic to get around a car,” said Feinsmith. “I’d feel much safer riding on the sidewalk and I’m sure many other cyclists would as well, but we don’t like doing that either because there are pedestrians there and there [are] driveways where drivers are pulling out and aren’t expecting a cyclist to come zooming down on the sidewalk.
“On streets that don’t have bicycle lanes, or at least when the bike lane is not in official existence, cyclists are allowed to take the lane and legally be a car,” Feinsmith continued. “However, this feels dangerous. Most people, except for maybe like two percent of cyclists, are not confident enough to do this because you have to be going pretty fast and be willing to take the cars honking at you.”
More than 80 people participated in the ride down Homestead Road including members of Bike Sunnyvale, students at Homestead High School and Fremont High School and community members.
This is not the first time that Sunnyvale has explored the idea of making the bicycle lane on northbound Homestead Road permanent. In 2015, the city council considered the idea but decided against it after a considerable outcry from homeowners along the roadway. Since then, traffic along Homestead Road has only increased with the opening of Apple Park near the intersection of Homestead and Wolfe Roads.
Sunnyvale’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee is expected to explore the idea of making the bicycle lane permanent at the end of this year. If all goes well, it will appear before the Sunnyvale City Council in early 2023.
Feinsmith says the boba bike ride was designed to get people involved and be vocal about making the permanent bike lane a reality.
“Our goal is to get as many people to speak to the city council when this comes up and write letters to the city council and show their support for this project because it will likely be a little controversial when it comes up for decision time late this year or early next year,” said Feinsmith. “So, the goal of this ride was to raise awareness of the importance of these bike lanes. It was also just to have a good time and get free boba for everyone.”