Dear HHS —
Safety has been a major focus at Homestead this year, so hopefully you have seen the HHS administrators out helping to direct traffic, keeping the traffic flow moving and watching out for pedestrians and bikers so that everyone is safe. We have also been placing safety tips and guidelines in the daily bulletin as well as the email blasts that go home every Friday. Recently, one of our students (Jeff Wortman) wrote a letter to the city of Sunnyvale regarding traffic concerns. His letter was so good, I thought it might be better to hear directly from a student for a change and to remember to “Drive like your students go here . . . Because they do!” Thanks Jeff for stepping up to voice our concerns and actively do something about it.
Hello Sunnyvale City Councilmembers and Mayor Griffith,
I live in Sunnyvale and am a sophomore at Homestead High School. For the past year I have cycled to/from school on Mary Avenue. I am writing about the number of close calls between cyclists and cars on Mary Ave. I also wanted you to know that the improvements to the bike lane on Mary Avenue between Fremont and Homestead are great. That stretch of road feels a whole lot safer. Unfortunately, that is not where the close calls I’m seeing are taking place. Those seem to be happening between Remington and Fremont.
I heard that more of Mary Avenue “may” see bike lane improvements at some point. Until then, I wanted to share what I’m seeing on the road and see if the city can help keep cycling students safer with some low cost, simple steps. Why reach out now? Last week a friend of mine was almost hit by a car coming home from school. The car was at fault. Today, a student was millimeters away from being hit by a truck. The student was at fault. He swerved into traffic to get around cyclists in the bike lane. Fortunately, these were close calls but are a sample of what I see too often.
The intent of my letter is to promote student cyclist safety. We are high school, middle school, and elementary school students. Our brains are all still developing and we need as much structured safety from the city as the city can provide. Many students are riding their bikes to Homestead (or Middle/Elementary) school for the first time and are unseasoned riders. I can literally see fear in some of these kids’ eyes crossing some of these roads. Often we hear that we should look for a safer route. Telling students, especially high school students, to simply find alternate safe routes is not a realistic answer. We want a straight shot with the shortest distance and, the quickest route possible. That’s why I’m asking for your help and propose the following:
- I’d like to invite the city council and mayor to join students as we cycle Mary Ave. in the morning/afternoon. Come see first-hand what it is like for us on the roads in our quest to get to school and back home again safely. The morning ride and afternoon rides are very different.
- Green Colored Bike Lanes: Kudos to whichever city put in the green colored bike lanes on Homestead Ave. I’d like to ask that the City of Sunnyvale continue this effort on Mary Avenue, from Heatherstone to Homestead Ave. These green bike lanes are a great visual cue for drivers/bikers and seem a pretty simple, low cost step to implement in 2015 (not pushed out until 2016 or later).
- Crossing Guards: Ok, this one is for my mom (well, several of them). What happened to all the crossing guards? Seems like a bad episode of The Walking Dead. They are all…just gone. There used to be one at Mary/The Dalles, two at Mango/Remington by SMS, etc…. Now…there are none. Please do not underestimate their importance. They slow traffic, bring awareness and are a HUGE safety feature. According to “The Moms”, the corner of Mango/Knickerbocker is an accident waiting to happen. There are floods of middle & elementary school kids crossing amidst impatient, illegal U-turn making, let me park in the middle of the road drivers. I see it all the time too. Some drivers clearly need a repeat of driver’s training (and I haven’t even had that yet). If it’s about money, what can the city do to fix that?
- What to do cards: Students (cycling, walking, boarding, etc…) need to know what to do in case of an accident. Many students I know have seen kids bumped by cars, been bumped by cars, fell on their own, etc.… What are our roles besides making sure our friend is OK or calling 911 if it’s a bad situation? What protocols should we follow? Snap a photo; get license plate #’s, yell superlatives at drivers, etc…? Perhaps the city can create wallet sized protocol/guideline cards with safety numbers to call.
So, that’s it. Not looking to start a movement. I hope to hear back and look forward to riding with anyone brave enough to join in.
PTSA Student Representative