Safe-Routes-to-School (SRTS) grants are supposed to improve bike and pedestrian access to schools. The city of Fremont has discovered a new way to use this funding source: to widen intersections and remove bike lanes. Cyclists biking past Irvington high school now have to contend with this:
You can see where the bike lane used to be. It was removed to make way for an additional left-turn lane. Cyclists now have to “share” the lane with 40+ mph traffic through a heavily used intersection. The Grimmer Blvd bike lane is a key part of the south Fremont Bike Plan, providing a connection to the new Warm Springs BART station. As well, pedestrians at the Grimmer/Blacow intersection will now have to cross 2 additional travel lanes.
Incredibly, this was all made possible by a California SRTS grant, which provided the bulk of the funding of the intersection “improvement” project. Fremont cleverly split the project up so that the SRTS grant paid for the expensive new signal and sidewalk changes, while the the new left turn lane was paid with non-SRTS funds.
Council gave the project a CEQA negative declaration (i.e. exempt from environmental review) because it would have “minor” impacts. The Staff Report to Council makes no mention of the bike lane removal. This raises the troubling question as to whether Fremont City Council or Caltrans was aware of the bike lane removal in approving the project.