On MTS letterhead

May 27, 1992

Patricia Castillo, Mayor
City of Sunnyvale
PO Box 3707
Sunnyvale CA 94088-3707

Subject: Request to restripe the outside lane of Java Drive to provide a shoulder

Dear Mayor Castillo,

One of the most heavily-used transit corridors in the county is Java Dr. in Sunnyvale. During rush hour, buses come every two minutes to pick up commuters from Lockheed and other companies. These buses fan out over the County.

Unfortunately, these transit patrons are forced to walk in the lane of 45-mph auto traffic as a result of poor roadway design by Sunnyvale staff. For much of its length, there is no sidewalk and no shoulder. There is a curb, but pedestrians are prevented from walking on the top side of the curb by the ornamental shrubbery that was planted.

This problem not only effects transit patrons, but also people who have to walk between buildings. I worked at the corner of Java Dr. and Borregas for over three years. People always complained about having to walk in the lane of 45-mph car traffic. The situation is absurd. Once I saw a handicapped co-worker get honked at as he was driving his wheelchair in the 45 mph traffic lane. Apparently, he wasn’t driving his wheelchair fast enough. Yet, this is the only way a pedestrian can get to lunch.

The Sunnyvale traffic engineering department seems to have no concern for any form of transportation that competes with the automobile. In 1987, this department vigorously opposed allowing bicycle use of expressway shoulders. In 1991, they opposed allowing pedestrians to use existing pedestrian facilities (including sidewalks) on expressways. Historically, traffic engineers supported the destruction of non-polluting electric rail transit systems, including the Peninsular Railway in Santa Clara County, trains across the Bay Bridge and others throughout the Bay Area. In 1990, the Sunnyvale traffic engineering department changed the shoulder area of Java Dr., between Tasman Dr. and Hwy. 101, into another lane for automobiles. The people who previously walked in the shoulder area now step onto the new 45-mph traffic lane when they leave the front doors of those businesses. Recent public policy encourages people to use transportation modes that compete with the automobile. However, Sunnyvale’s traffic engineering department vividly demonstrates that it is continuing the historic animosity of traffic engineers towards transportation modes that compete with their livelihood (based on moving automobiles).

The Modern Transit Society requests that the Sunnyvale City Council direct the traffic engineering department to make the outside traffic lane on Java Drive into a shoulder area wherever a sidewalk is missing from a side of the road (i.e., make both outside lanes into shoulders where sidewalks are missing from both sides), except where there are less than three traffic lanes in one direction.

The above request would still force pedestrians to walk in the 45-mph traffic lane on the Java Dr. bridge over Hwy 237, because there are two lanes in each direction at present. Sidewalks need to be placed when the bridge is reconstructed for the light rail transit line, hopefully in the near future.

Changing the outside traffic lanes to shoulders as explained above will increase safety for transit patrons and pedestrians. It will increase transit patronage by those who currently are afraid to walk in the 45-mph traffic lane. It will not create any great inconvenience to auto users, because Java Dr. is already constricted to two lanes in each direction at the bridge over Hwy. 237. Furthermore, it involves very little cost, because it only involves painting lines on the road.

It is our understanding that a policy of the City of Sunnyvale is to decrease jobs in the north industrial area. More traffic lanes (as was done in 1990) are not needed. Adding traffic lanes is also counter-productive. Further accommodating the automobile only encourages greater automobile usage, and decreases transit and bicycling. Adding the traffic lanes at the expense of transit patrons and pedestrians, who now have to walk in the lane of traffic, is an even greater discouragement for these non-polluting modes.


Akos Szoboszlay, P.E.
Past-President and Director

Also see Sunnyvale Campaign page.

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