To:  Roger Piazza, Manager, Road Maintenance, South and West Yards,

          Santa Clara County Roads and Airports Department

Cc:   Herman Wadler, Chair, VTA/County Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Committee

From:  Akos Szoboszlay, President, Modern Transit Society

Date:   May 26, 2006

Subject: Compliance with safety requirement on San Tomas

Dear Sir:

The Modern Transit Society is requesting compliance with the County Expressway Master Plan's shrubbery trimming requirement, to create a dirt path at intersection areas of San Tomas Expressway. This requirement states:

"Landscaping needs to be kept trimmed back at intersection areas and along the travel way so pedestrians do not have to enter the travel lane."  [page 93, County Expressway Master Plan]

The width of the created path should be between 2 and 3 feet. Two feet would be plenty unless pedestrian usage becomes greater than expected. In addition, overhanging leaves and twigs from trees (one location I know of, at El Camino, NW corner) needs to be cut back 7 feet or more above the path.

There are quotes and excerpts of the Master Plan on our web page (next link). This page also contains a photo of such a pedestrian path, copied from the Master Plan itself. In addition, this web page has instructions on how to download the Master Plan from either the County's website or from our website. (Note that there are two downloads, the main section and the San Tomas section, which is a separate pdf file):

The next link has a graph of the shrubbery trimming requirement, which was approved by the Board of Supervisors in 1991. At the same time, the Board approved $75,000 annually for shrubbery trimming. However, to my knowledge, none of this money was used for that purpose. Shrubbery was trimmed to create dirt paths on Lawrence (since replaced by sidewalks) and Montague, taking only a few days of work.

The shrubbery trimming requirement has not been complied with on San Tomas, probably due to the "pedestrians prohibited" signs that are still posted. However, please notice that the requirement has no exception, nor is there a differentiation as to whether or not pedestrians are prohibited, because people walk on San Tomas regardless, due to lack of practical alternative routes. (See detour maps in the link at bottom).

The next link contains the San Tomas pedestrian map from the Master Plan (from the San Tomas pdf file). Notice that wide shoulders are shown for pedestrian use in color gray, which is almost the entire roadway. No trimming is needed where there is color blue (meaning nearby parallel route) and yellow (bridges). (The maps on the web page was split for fit, but the original is one map.)

Different expressways use different intersection designs. On San Tomas, there is either a solid or a dashed shoulder line, the dashed being at intersection areas. Where it is solid, it is 5 feet minimum width, which means that it meets both the width of a standard bike lane and the "wide shoulder" criteria for pedestrian use of the expressway shoulder. Therefore, the dirt path needs to be created between the sidewalk of the crossing street and where the solid shoulder line starts. In addition, the path should be extended another 6 feet or so for overlap with the solid shoulder line.

We are proceeding with the prohibitory sign removal separately. All expressways are required to meet bike lane standards, so all "pedestrians prohibited" signs need to be removed from all expressways to achieve compliance with the Master Plan and also CVC 21949. Furthermore, CVC 21966 allows walking in a bike lane where a sidewalk is lacking. All bicycle and most pedestrian prohibitions have already been repealed, and the Santa Clara City Council is anticipated to vote, in about one month, for repeal of their prohibitory ordinance. Therefore, would you trim the shrubs to create a dirt path in Santa Clara (City) within a month, and the remainder of San Tomas soon after that?

Please call or email if you have questions. My cell phone is 408 221 0694. For further information with graphics and photos, see our San Tomas Expressway web page at:


Akos Szoboszlay

Modern Transit Society