By Jondi Gumz, Santa Cruz Sentinel
CAPITOLA >> With a “Safe Routes to School” study in hand, the Capitola City Council wants to meet with Soquel Union School District officials to discuss what should be done to encourage more students to bike or walk to New Brighton Middle School.
About 57 percent are driven to school; 20 percent walk, 19 percent bike and 4 percent skateboard.
A survey found 40 percent of parents worry about too much traffic and speeding on routes to school; about 35 percent said they would let their child bike or walk more often if those concerns were addressed.
The Kimley Horn study proposed 21 actions to improve safety for those on foot or on bikes, most in the city’s purview. These include installing speed limit signs and speed “lumps,” striping bike lanes green, prohibiting left turns at key intersections to reduce car traffic, installing more bike lanes, shared-lane markings for bicycles on the pavement and more sidewalks, and creating a student drop-off location on Bay Avenue to reduce traffic congestion around the school.
Mayor Dennis Norton asked if distance is a deterrent since only 16 percent of students live within a mile of the school.
The consultant presenting the 17-page “Safe Routes to School” report said middle-schoolers could reasonably bicycle up to 1.5 to 2 miles, which would cover all but 34 percent of the students.
Andy Ward, who commutes by bicycle from Capitola to Plantronics, said bike lanes are needed along Kennedy Drive, a comment echoed by Steve Piercy, who started a New Brighton Middle School bike club.
City retiree Daniel Kostelec noted Kennedy Drive is wide enough to allow for parking of cars on one side plus a bike lane.
Marking the pavement as a shared lane for bicycles will work, he said.
Councilwoman Stephanie Harlan asked the mayor to invite school district trustees to meet and develop a joint plan, asking funding be allocated during midyear budget talks.
Norton wants a line item in the budget for bike safety measures.
Councilman Michael Termini encouraged parents to slow down as they exit the school parking lot.