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Posts from the "San Jose DOT" Category

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San Jose DOT: Ban Sidewalk Cycling Downtown, 5 MPH Speed Limit Elsewhere

Santa Clara Street Car Traffic

Santa Clara Street in downtown San Jose, where SJDOT is proposing banning anyone over age 12 from bicycling on the sidewalks. Photo: Google Maps

On Monday afternoon (October 6), San Jose’s Transportation & Environment Committee will review a proposal by the city’s Department of Transportation (SJDOT) to ban bicyclists over the age of 12 on sidewalks along ten downtown streets, and to set a speed limit of 5 mph for bicycling on every other sidewalk citywide.

The city has been inching towards a sidewalk cycling ban ever since it was first proposed by City Council member Sam Liccardo in March 2013, following complaints by downtown residents who said “they’re afraid to walk on the sidewalks because adult men zip by at unsafe speeds, startling them with a series of near-misses,” and cited injuries suffered by pedestrians. Jack Licursi, Sr., owner of a barber shop on Santa Clara Street, was hospitalized due to a fall he suffered after a bicyclist collided with him when he stepped out of his shop and onto the sidewalk.

Walk_Your_Bike_signs_and_banners

“Public education materials” that SJDOT concluded were unsuccessful at convincing sidewalk bicyclists to share the street with auto traffic. Image: City of San Jose

A coalition of local non-profit groups, including the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition (SVBC), Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Greenbelt Alliance, and TransForm, supported an ordinance that would define and prohibit reckless bicycling, but opposed an outright ban on sidewalk cycling.

“[A ban] would criminalize a healthy behavior (bicycle riding) being undertaken by those who likely do not ride in the street because of health, age, or safety concerns,” wrote Corinne Winter, Jessica Zenk, Michele Beasley, and Chris Lepe in a joint April 2013 letter.

SJDOT concluded that “Walk Your Bike” signs, pavement markers, and banners installed in late 2013 haven’t convinced enough bicyclists to join the fast-moving bus and truck traffic present on many downtown streets, and so now proposes a sidewalk cycling ban instead. Anyone over the age of 12 could be ticketed for bicycling on the sidewalks of Santa Clara Street and on every street with bike lanes within the “greater downtown area”: Almaden Boulevard, Woz Way, and San Fernando, 3rd, 4th, 7th, 10th, and 11th streets.

But traffic conditions, even on streets with wide buffered bike lanes, present too great a hazard for many people to safely navigate by bicycle. These include high-speed traffic, large vehicles like trucks and buses, cars merging across the bike lanes to make turns or park, and vehicles blocking bike lanes that force cyclists to merge into adjacent traffic.

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San Jose Sets Out to Build the Bay Area’s Most Bike-Friendly Downtown

Bike commuters on San Fernando Street, which is slated to get the city's first green bike lanes. Photo: Richard Masoner/Cyclelicious

San Jose — which wants its central district to become the urban center of Silicon Valley — hopes to build the Bay Area’s most bike-friendly downtown, where pedaling to work, school or the farmers market is “safe, convenient and commonplace” for people of all ages. The vision includes Long Beach-inspired bicycle-friendly business districts, where merchants would wholeheartedly embrace bike-riding shoppers and diners.

“Our ambition is to retrofit a city that has been built for cars into one that is built for people,” said Council Member Sam Liccardo, who represents downtown and commutes by bike to San Jose City Hall three days a week. “The vibrancy that we hope and expect it will bring to our streetscape will start to change perceptions of San Jose throughout the region.”

The city is also planning beyond downtown and wants to create a strong network of convenient crosstown bikeways linking the auto-oriented suburban ring to the transit-rich urban core.

“It’s sunny 300 days a year and we don’t have San Francisco hills,” said Colin Heyne, deputy director of the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition. “Nature has given us this opportunity to become a great place to walk and bike.”

Though only 1.2 percent of San Jose residents commute by bike, according to the city’s tally, anecdotally the trend seems to be pointing toward higher rates. The popular San Jose Bike Party has helped to boost ridership, drawing many first time riders inspired by the impressive monthly display of bike culture. The city has set a 5 percent bike mode share goal by 2020, and 15 percent by 2040.

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San Jose Celebrates First ViaVelo, Opens Downtown Streets to People

family_on_bikes.jpgA family enjoying the warm day and car-free streets. Photos: Matthew Roth.

San Jose kicked off its first ViaVelo Saturday with the opening of seven blocks of San Fernando Street downtown to bicycle riders, skaters, and pedestrians who enjoyed five hours of car-free space. Several hundred people showed up, many of them families and the burgeoning young fixed-gear crowd, riding bikes and socializing on a brilliant spring day.

San Jose joins San Francisco and San Mateo county (whose Streets Alive was mostly rained out last month) in hosting the increasingly popular events, which are modeled on the enormous ciclovia in Bogota, Colombia. San Francisco has held three of the nine Sunday Streets of 2010 and Oakland will premiere its first Oaklavia on June 27th.

Organizers of ViaVelo were upbeat about the turnout and the day's events, suggesting that if there is enough positive public feedback, the city would like to make the events a tradition next year.

"It's nice not having to worry about cars, to see families with their kids out, to see families happy and having fun, rather than worrying about how to cross the street or if it's safe to ride a bike," said John Brazil, Bike Coordinator for the San Jose Department of Transportation. "I know that all the organizers and many of the sponsors would like to see this continue, so hopefully the community will tell their elected officials they like it and it's a priority."

As one of the primary community partners involved in organizing ViaVelo, the San Jose Bike Party led various feeder rides to and from the event. Several rides from downtown went to points of interest along San Jose's extensive trail system.

"I love the fact that San Jose is becoming a bike city and putting so much focus on it," said Ian Emmons, a Bike Party organizer attending ViaVelo with his son. "I think we've got a ways to go before we catch up with Portland and 7 miles of closed streets, but we're working on it."

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Silicon Valley Prepares for San Jose Cycling Classic and First Ciclovia

bike_to_work_presser_small.jpgSVBC E.D. Corinne Winter, Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino, and San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed at the San Jose City Hall Rotunda. Carl Guardino's bike is in front of the podium. Photo: Matthew Roth.
Most cities in the Bay Area are gearing up for Bike to Work Day this Thursday, with numerous activities to encourage people to make riding to work a more enjoyable and routine part of life. In San Jose, the city has planned a whole week of events.

The San Jose Cycling Classic will kick off with Bike to Work Day and finish with the Amgen Tour of California Stage 4 on Wednesday, May 19th, where luminaries like Lance Armstrong will race through the streets of the capital of Silicon Valley.

There will be two King of the Mountain events that encourage avid cyclists to ride a portion of the Tour of California race to raise money for charities, one dedicated to CEOs and corporate executives and one open to anyone who thinks they can surmount a very steep section of Sierra Road.

This year will also mark the first ciclovia in the South Bay, similar to San Francisco's Sunday Streets, where the city opens its streets to cyclists and pedestrians by closing them to cars. San Jose's ciclovia, called Via Velo and sponsored by Mattson Technology, is a modest first step that will close San Fernando Street downtown for just under one mile, from 3rd Street to the 87 freeway.

At a recent press conference, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and various Silicon Valley business leaders asserted that the week's events would continue to boost the profile of bicycle riding in the city, and not just for the spandex crowd.

In fact, Mayor Reed made a special plea to residents in his city who were not the typical sport cyclists, urging them to take advantage of the Cycling Classic events or even the 50 miles of creek trails to reacquaint themselves with their bicycles.

"I know there are a lot of people out there who have bicycles in garages, bicycles in sheds," said Reed. "Those bicycles are lonely and I want this to motivate people to get out, get the bicycle out, and pump up the tires, put a little oil on the chain," and come out for Bike to Work Day or Via Velo.

"I ride in the name of people who don't wear spandex," added Mayor Reed, who said the creek trail system was a great way for families to ride without the worry of traffic.

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Bay Area Advocates Unveil New VMT Reduction Incentive for Developers

Among the many strategies to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and attendant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from private vehicles, Bay Area smart growth advocate TransForm has developed a new certification called GreenTRIP to encourage architects, developers, and municipal officials to build transit-oriented development and implement transportation demand management (TDM) solutions for future tenants [PDF].

"What we strive to do with GreenTRIP is create something that is very easily implementable so that it can be done early in the development process," said Jeffrey Tumlin, Principal of Nelson Nygaard Consulting Associates and a member of GreenTRIP's advisory board. "We want to focus on the key things that developers and municipalities can do to have a positive impact on greenhouse gases."

Tumlin added, "GreenTRIP tries to change the regulatory process."

Developed explicitly to complement areas where the LEED Neighorhood Development (LEED ND) green building certification falls short of being prescriptive, GreenTRIP rewards projects that reduce traffic and make a strong connection between sustainable development and pollution from the transportation sector, which accounts for more than 40 percent of California's GHG emissions. Funding for the new certification comes from grants from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

Using the URBEMIS emissions model developed by the California Air Resources Board, GreenTRIP gives developers credits for reducing overall driving relative to the average regional VMT. GreenTRIP attempts to impact developments at the beginning phases of design, encouraging developers to situate near transit and take steps to reduce driving [PDF].

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