California Vehicle Code 21960, changed by SB 1233 of 2004 through use of deception and false statements, eliminated the right of bicyclists and pedestrians to use public roadways.

Contents, Links, Contacts page

This article / report comes in two versions, short article for general audience and full report for legislators and advocates. Events since SB 1233 became law are listed in reverse order. Below that are related expressway links and at bottom, relevant portions from the County Expressway Plan (2003) are excerpted.

[Short article] [Full report].
These appendices are referenced in the full report:

Appendix A: The County contradicted its letters to the Senate and Assembly Committees
Appendix B: Three intentions of Senate Bill 1233 [SB 1233] were contradicted
Appendix C: Goal to conform Vehicle Code 21960 [CVC 21960] to CVC 21949 and ACR 211
Appendix D: Deception and all lack of public process at the County level
Appendix E: Historical events leading to SB 1233.
Also in Appendix E: Letter from Sunnyvale to County to "remove all signs that prohibit pedestrian use."
Appendix F: Text of changes to CVC 21960 (commented version). [uncommented version]
(Related: New definition of "expressway" (CVC 314) references SHS 941.4 where section h states that "expressway means a highway having partial or complete control of access..."
Appendix G: Text of changes to Streets and Highways Code 1730.
Appendix H: Letter from County to Senate Transportation Committee.

Legal analysis by CABO (California Association of Bicycle Organizations)

The six-page report by CABO can be downloaded as a pdf file. It is titled: Legal Framework of the Santa Clara County Expressway System.

Events since SB 1233 became law are listed in reverse chronological order:

Board action, March 2009: The County Board of Supervisors (BOS), approved the County Expressway Plan (Update), on March 3, 2009. County highway staff, in their draft version of this Plan, tried to eliminate pedestrians from most expressway miles, and conducted a campaign, starting in 2005, to achieve that, using scare tactics and false statements at public meetings, and in letters/memos to the Supervisors. As part of this campaign, County highway staff also fought against placement of sidewalks along San Tomas Expressway. However, they were unsuccessful in their efforts. The BOS placed no pedestrian prohibition in the Plan, and included sidewalks along all expressways, usually on both sides of the road, including along San Tomas Expressway. This BOS action precluded a future freeway that highway staff apparently desired, as indicated by the phrase "county freeway" that SB 1233 inserted into law, and by their opposition to allowing pedestrians use of existing pedestrian paths along San Tomas, and by their opposition to future sidewalks along San Tomas.

County staff's excuses for not complying with BOS directive to seek repeal of SB 1233, April 2007: County staff squashed VTA/County Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Committee's (BPAC) request to the Board of Supervisors. (See related actions by this BPAC.)

December 2006: VTA staff analyses, December 2006.

Board action, January 2006: The County Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted, on January 10, 2006, to restore the rights that were secretly eliminated by Senate Bill 1233 [SB 1233 of 2004]. This was despite County highway engineers' opposition to restoration before the Board's Legislative Committee, and their triple attack on walkers and transit patrons. The Board unanimously approved [see minutes of agenda #25] this proposal [see agenda attachment]: "Santa Clara County previously sought ... SB 1233 of 2004. This new proposal would repeal that language." Staff, in an attempt to save face, stated in the appendix to the agenda that SB 1233 had "unintended consequences". Furthermore, the County Expressway [Master] Plan was NOT repudiated as the County Roads Department attempted before the VTA BPAC (Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Committee), and County Roads Department then dropped their proposal after losing the vote. See the detailed recommendation of VTA BPAC in this regard.

Shocking admission in 2005: County staff revealed the real reason for their secret process: Thwart the repeal of the pedestrian prohibition by Sunnyvale. Also see the rebuttal, why their reason is bogus. and the County Counsel memo regarding SB 1233.

Background articles: County highway staff opposed, thwarted BOS policy to undermine major victories for non-motorists on expressways.

Example of false statements to the Supervisors made by Michael Murdter, Director of Roads & Airports:
"[BOS policy] discourages pedestrians from walking along the shoulders of expressways." [to HLUET Committee on Feb. 12, 2004]
In fact, BOS policy of Aug. 19, 2003 states that:
"shoulder or path facilities can serve ... for occasional pedestrian use."  [Source: County Expressway Plan, page 93, see bottom]

See quotes of many more of Michael Murdter's false statements --which were retracted or removed in the May 4, 2004 (BOS) staff report, as the Modern Transit Society requested. These false ideas were the rationale for the BOS vote (two months earlier) to seek changing State law in December 2003, using deception on the agenda so County citizens could not rebut it. [Previous link also has links to staff reports.]

The County Expressway Plan, a joint effort of Santa Clara County and its cities

The Expressway Plan was adopted by the County Board of Supervisors (on 8/19/03) after a two-year public input process, including by cities, and is official policy for expressways. It contains a chapter for pedestrians on (along and crossing) expressways. SB 1233 and statements of staff (as recently as June 8, 2005) contradict this Expressway Plan, by contradicting the pedestrian-expressway map (see below) and the above quote (in green).

See more info about the Plan with regards to pedestrian. The entire Plan can be downloaded from either the County's web site (then click "Implementation Plan") or directly from here: [click to download 13 MB pdf file].

More Links

How this all started: by a request to County Board of Supervisors to comply with City codes, State law and County's own policies. Details are in a Letter to the County Supervisors and a second letter (which resulted in the Board referral), Unjust discrimination by the County.

Details about the deceptive agenda at the County level: Letter from MTS to the Legislative Committee of the Board of Supervisors

Photos: "Sidewalks Prohibited"!

Photos: Recent destruction of bicycle and pedestrian facilities on Montague Expressway which never had prohibitions. This was despite that walkers have always been allowed, and the County Expressway Plan shows sidewalks on both sides (see map, below), and shows shoulders for bicycles. (Links for even more photos are at bottom of that page).

Expressway topics, links page contains links to many policies and also some staff reports that are cited (those not on the County's web site, such as the HLUET Committee).

Timeline of the fight to allow bicycles and pedestrians to use arterial roads.

Home page for the Modern Transit Society

Home page for the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition


Akos Szoboszlay, Vice-President, 408 241 8214 (home), 408 221 0694 (cellphone), (Delete the red X that foils spammers from "harvesting" email addresses)

Webmaster (for corrections or improvements to this web site): (Delete the red X that foils spammers from "harvesting" email addresses)

Excerpts from the County Expressway Plan

Below map is page 90 of the Expressway Master Plan (adopted 8/19/03). To copy, drag the map onto your desktop.

Next is page 93 (excerpt) of the County Expressway Master Plan (adopted 8/19/03). To copy, drag it onto your desktop.

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