City removes parking spots; some bikeways will get bollards to provide barriers

By Emily DeRuy

Changes are coming to streets in San Jose that will affect residents no matter how they choose to get around.

Later this month, the city will begin upgrading its downtown bikeways, painting bike lanes and installing plastic bollards in certain places to provide a barrier between bikes and cars. On some thoroughfares, including stretches of 3rd and 4th Streets downtown, street parking and bike lanes will be swapped so that cyclists will be protected from moving cars by a lane of parked vehicles.

The shift is part of a broader effort to reduce traffic fatalities and accidents and to get more people out of their cars and onto bicycles. Last year, five of the six bicycle fatalities in San Jose involved vehicle collisions. This year, there have been two.

San Jose is in the middle of its annual street repaving program and construction of the new bikeways is timed to piggyback on the effort to reduce such accidents. The project will take place over this year and 2019. The 2018 cost, according to the Department of Transportation, is $1.5 million or $150,000 per mile.

“A better bikeway is someplace you feel comfortable riding with

Cyclists wait for a red light during Bike toWork Day in 2016on San Fernando Street in San Jose.


Colin Heyne rides his bike along San Antonio Street on his way to work in downtown San Jose in 2014. San Jose’s downtown bikeways are getting an upgrade, which the city hopes will lure more residents out of their cars and onto bicycles.



your kids,” said Peter Bennett, a transportation specialist with the city, during an open house at City Hall this week where people could stop by to look at maps and diagrams outlining the changes.

Right now, the city acknowledges, many of San Jose’s bikeways aren’t necessarily inviting to inexperienced cyclists.

Carlos Velazquez, who works in the city’s environmental services office and stopped by on his way home from work, bike helmet in hand, said he finally forced himself to hop on his bike about three years ago.

“I loved the idea of bicycling but I was afraid,” he said. “My goal is to get my mom to ride a bicycle.”

Emily Schwing, who rides her bike from the Rose Garden neighborhood to East San Jose, where her employer Veggielution runs a community farm, understands people’s reluctance.

Drivers have almost opened their car doors into her, she said, and she’s been honked at by buses on roads where there is no distinct bike lane and bikes share space with vehicles.

“I’m really excited,” Schwing said.

Some drivers may not be as thrilled about the changes. The city is set to remove about 80 parking spaces, including a number around San Jose State University and along St. James Park. And on N. 4th Street between Jackson and Hedding Streets, the city will create one through lane each direction to match the rest of the street. But studies of similar projects in other cities, including Long Beach, suggest that after residents get used to the changes, the number of accidents is likely to go down.

“I think it’s been a long time coming,” said Ben Pacho of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. “It’s really a model for what other cities can do.”Contact Emily DeRuy at 408- 920- 5077.