Cupertino it the epitome of an urban sprawl community that is trying to morph into a urban city. However urban sprawl, ideal for car, is not so for public transportation or walking. Its many winding mazed roads and dead-end streets make public transportation impractical near most streets and walking laboriously long. In the process it is undergoing dramatic growth and severe growing pains. But unlike a person growing up with a genetic road-map of how to grow Cupertino has no road-map. So it is growing more like a cancer cell out of control. There are no guidelines on which the city is basing its growth other than the will to grow and a disjointed General Plan. Considerations such as traffic and overcrowded school are outraging citizens as the city considers major developments around town.
Cars are probably the most impacting factor after people when a city grows. People will continue to live and work in this city so there is only so much that can be done about this. But there are things that can be proactively done in planning growth to limit the impact of cars and the traffic they create. Car have physical, financial, and social impacts resulting from growth: traffic congestion; the space they occupy on roadways and parking spaces; their demand on energy and fossil fuels; their production of greenhouse gases and air pollution; the cost of infrastructures to support them; and their toll on human lives, especially the young.
Traffic can be mitigated by the careful planning of developments but this only serves to reduce the severity of traffic’s impacts. Bicycles on the other hand can actually reduce it. Smart Growth principles attempt to mitigate growth by concentrating it so most people can walk, bike, or take public transportation most places. The great advantage of a bicycle is its ability to transport people from their homes in urban sprawl areas to area of jobs, shopping, and public transportation in town without adding significantly to traffic. Bicycles are actually the most efficient means of transportation needing no energy source other than the rider, producing no pollution other than what the rider’s breath, can easily transport people miles around town, and are amazingly inexpensive to own and operate. Yet they are so under underutilized. This is a cultural thing because there are countries such as Denmark, Sweden, and other European nations where bicycles are a major means of transportation. It was used widespread in Asia until the car took over.
So there is no fundamental reason why bicycles could not be more extensively used in Cupertino other than safety considerations. But safety will be address if the City deems bicycles a major mode of transportation. We enjoy some of the best weather in the world, far better than most European nations where bicycles are extensively used. They solve so many Growth related issues but people are simply unaccustomed to their use and the importance of making our streets more bicycle friendly. If I could only make people realize that this is a cultural thing in our affluent car-centric society perhaps some might have second thoughts. I have already describes the many benefits bicycles have over cars on this blog.