Much has been made about the “parkageddon” at the sprawling new Apple Campus. The City of Cupertino required the 3.5 million square foot spaceship to include 11,000 parking spaces – amounting to more space for parking than office space. While Apple has tried to greenwash their campus, there’s no hiding the enormous carbon footprint that 11,000 cars driving to the campus will incur.
Unsurprisingly, in order to accommodate so many cars, the sprawling campus is also a disaster for walking and biking. Surrounding streets have been supersized in anticipation of campus-related traffic. North of 280, Wolfe Road was widened by two lanes to accommodate a double right turn into the campus. The northbound bike lane was squeezed in the middle of these five 35 MPH lanes, resulting in 500 feet of pure terror. Additionally, the pedestrian crossing distance across Wolfe is now 25 percent longer without a dedicated median refuge.
Planning for the campus assumes that nobody should walk or bike between the campus and surrounding areas. Based on Cupertino’s land use planning, this assumption may prove correct: the city’s refusal to build a fair share of housing means that few employees will live within walking or biking distance. The campus also lacks regional and local transit access – it is several miles removed from Caltrain and was not designed to accommodate convenient local bus access, for what little bus service there is (though about 28 percent of Apple employees are expected to ride private commuter shuttles to work). So if you find yourself walking or biking around the campus, you’re probably either very adventurous or have no other choice.
Apple’s campus is hopefully among the last of the Bay Area’s 20th century sprawling office parks. In contrast, Google is pushing for about 10,000 new housing units within walking distance of its campus in Mountain View. Companies like Salesforce, Uber, and Twitter have abandoned the suburbs altogether, while in Seattle, Amazon is building its new campus in the heart of the city. A new report by SPUR urges the next generation of corporate campuses to be more walkable, bikeable, and transit-oriented with more housing nearby. While Apple may be stuck in the past, hopefully other firms will think differently in the future.