Saratoga council finalizes Safe Routes to School plan

Saratoga students will soon have safe pathways to get to school.

Saratoga City Council approved the Safe Routes to School master plan, which outlines future construction projects to make streets around schools safer for pedestrians and cyclists, at its Wednesday night meeting.

If funding lines up, the city could complete all the proposed safety improvements in three years.

“This was probably one of the most important projects that we have ever done over the last couple of years now,” Councilmember Rishi Kumar said.

The plan recommended everything from clearing brush and adding crosswalks to installing traffic signals and adding speed bumps to improve walkways and make them safer for students to navigate.

Saratoga staff will utilize $160,000 of funds already set aside to finish near-term projects, like four flashing speed limit signs on Fruitvale Avenue, before tackling the remaining projects.

Other near-term projects include adding three speed tables along Reid Lane between Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road and Saratoga Hills Road, and a buffered bicycle lane will be installed along Allendale Avenue between Fruitvale and Chester avenues.

A portion of Sobey Road near where it intersects Quito Road will get a traffic-calming makeover. The plan calls for installing high-visibility crosswalks, rectangular rapid flashing beacons, raised crosswalks, speed feedback signs, speed humps and center line striping.

Once projects are completed, staff will create and distribute maps at each of Saratoga’s 11 schools to encourage more students to bike or walk to school, said Meghan Mitman of consultant group Fehr and Peers.

Council kickstarted this effort back in 2018 and reviewed areas a quarter- to a half-mile away from Saratoga’s schools, gathered community feedback and formed a multidisciplinary team made up of traffic safety commission members, youth commissioners, school representatives and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office.

Staff and the consultants looked at collision hotspots near schools from the past five years.

“What’s really important to note is that this is a reactive way about looking at safety and is an important way of understanding what types of crashes have been happening — and safety concerns — but it’s only one of several ways that we take a sense of what the safety needs might be near a school,” Mitman said.

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