San Jose is on the verge of adopting its new bicycle plan
at the next City Council meeting on November 17th, which, as anyone who has cycled in San Jose knows, would be a welcome change from decades of traffic engineering focused almost solely on automobility.
"What I'm hoping we're seeing here is a sea-change at the city of San Jose, where there's priority on the pedestrian, bicyclist and transit rider, because historically it's been the opposite," said Michele Beasley of the Greenbelt Alliance
, an advocacy group that supports transit, cycling, and pedestrian safety.
The new bike plan would mark a significant break from the past, with policy objectives to double the number of on-street lanes from 250 miles to 500 miles, add 5000 new bike racks, bring bicycle mode share to 5 percent, and achieve League of American Bicyclists (LAB) Gold-level Bicycle Friendly Community status, all by 2020. San Jose has tripled bicycle mode share in the last three years, up to 1.2 percent, which puts the city 15th among the largest 70 cities nationally, according to the San Jose Department of Transportation (DOT).
Still, even the top official at the DOT admitted his agency's track record on bicycle infrastructure has been less than stellar. "Clearly, San Jose has many decades of sprawling, auto-oriented community development to overcome, but the transportation policy tanker is turning," asserted Hans Larsen, acting Director of the DOT, who told Streetsblog he wasn't surprised by the vociferous anger expressed by readers
in our post on San Jose's innovative approach to LOS reform.
City Councilmember Sam Liccardo, who represents Downtown San Jose
and has been a force for turning anemic references to bicycles in San Jose's transportation policy documents into a full-fledged master plan, said that the city should capitalize on latent demand for cycling infrastructure.
"If we can implement this plan, it will set San Jose on a course to achieve a place among the great cycling communities in the nation, if not the world," said Liccardo. "Our weather, topography, and demographics make San Jose poised for enormous growth in biking mode share--we've tripled our number of riders in recent years--but it will take determination and resources to alter our streetscape and create a more bike-friendly ecosystem."