As the city looks for ways to manage Google's commuter traffic, the internet giant announced Tuesday that it will be giving the city $350,000 a year for three years to go toward bike infrastructure projects.
"I'm here today to provide you with a letter of commitment from Google for a three-year funding process," said Google real estate director John Igoe at Tuesday's City Council meeting, as the council prepared to look at the city budget. He said the funding is to be used at the city's discretion for bicycle safety related projects.
On Tuesday City Council members also expressed interest in keeping bike and pedestrian mobility as a top priority for the city for a second year in a row, and may soon approve the creation of a new job at City Hall, a bike and pedestrian "czar" who will oversee the city's many new efforts to be bike and pedestrian friendly. On Tuesday council members expressed interest in adding another such project, safer bike paths along Shoreline Boulevard from El Camino Real to Wright Avenue.
As part of a proposed reduction in car trips for Google if it intends to grow in Mountain View, Google and the city officials want to significantly increase the number of commuters on bicycles, but the benefits may extend to residents all over the city.
It's been a year since Google made its first donation of $500,000 towards bike improvements in the city. It paid $160,000 towards a new bike master plan for the city, $50,000 for new bike racks that will be installed downtown in the next few months, and $75,000 to add flashing lights to three crosswalks on Shoreline Boulevard near downtown, a project the City Council will be asked to approve on May 13, said Jacqueline Solomon, assistant public works director. Commuters and residents will also benefit from an extension of the Permanente Creek Trail to Middlefield Road that is in the works; Google paid $150,000 toward it last year.
To be paid for with some of Google's Shoreline Fund property taxes, a new "cycle track" bike path is also in the works for Stierlin Road and North Shoreline Boulevard, to create a direct route for commuters from the downtown train station, likely crossing a new bike and pedestrian bridge over Highway 101.