Spray paint along on Shannon Road indicating where speed humps and other municipal infrastructure will go is a taste of what’s to come.

But for now, students continue to wander along the shoulder, since there’s no sidewalk in some segments, while cars race by.

Shannon Road is under the microscope at the Town Hall for new safety measures. (Photo by Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

But a process is underway at Town Hall to calm traffic, install sidewalks, and paint bike lanes here.

Plenty of community voices, from neighborhood residents, to government officials, to workers at a child care facility on the road, say it’s time to make this route much safer.

Under the Shannon Pedestrian & Bikeway Improvement Project plan, the idea is to facilitate better cyclist and pedestrian flow on Shannon Road from Los Gatos Boulevard to Cherry Blossom Lane.

Blossoms along Shannon Road. (Photo by Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

Mayor Marico Sayoc says Shannon Road is really busy because motorists use it as a way to get around traffic snarls in Los Gatos.

But, she says, it’s not a raceway, and needs to be designed to make sure schoolchildren are protected as they come and go.

“It’s part of our Safe Routes to School program,” she said, explaining the Town has already done some renovations on Shannon Road. “There’s been several improvements we’ve made.”

The Town partnered with the Los Gatos Union School District, the Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District, and Hillbrook School for a study of traffic around local schools back in 2016. The county has been pushing for these sorts of upgrades, too.

Los Gatos even got $940,100 in federal funding from the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, via the Vehicle Emissions Reductions Based at Schools grant program, to support to execute the initiative.

Over the years there’s been a series of public meetings to invite civic engagement from parents and others. Now, locals get to have their voices heard on potential upgrades for Shannon Road.

A cyclist travels along Shannon Road without the protection of a bike lane. (Photo by Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

The effort falls under Connect Los Gatos, a program of bike and pedestrian projects meant to promote connectivity throughout the community.

Mayor Sayoc said it’s so important to get community feedback in order to make sure the Town is proceeding with the right measures, particularly since developing its road network doesn’t come cheap.

“As you know infrastructure changes are very expensive,” she said, but notes Shannon Road is one that seems to be on the top of many people’s lists. “Shannon road is one of many roads that’s been viewed critically.”

Shannon Road runs through a residential neighborhood. (Photo by Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

Christine Brokaw, a Shannon Road resident, says people speed along the road so fast it’s dangerous.

“That’s why I back my car in, because I’m terrified that I’m going to run into something when I’m coming out of my driveway,” she said, adding improvements will benefit more than just people who live there. “It’s a thoroughfare, with kids walking home from school.”

“I didn’t know it was happening. I think it’s a good idea. People drive so fast along here. It would be nice.”

Julia Robertson, 14, wandered away from Los Gatos Boulevard down the side of Shannon Road she likes best, flanked by a friend. Both were eating icy treats in the hot sun.

“But there’s no sidewalk, so I usually walk on that side,” she said, motioning to the other side of the street that she doesn’t like to travel down as much. “I just like this side better; I don’t know why.”

HUMP / HUMP – Shannon Road improvements are already underway. (Photo by Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

With names like “road diets” or “safer streets” projects, such municipal initiatives to calm traffic, boost safety, and make communities more walkable are all the rage in California, right now.

You can learn more by going to losgatosca.gov/ConnectLG.

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Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected].



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