On Thursday we ran a post on the upcoming bicycle friendly improvements coming to San Fernando St. in downtown San Jose. Work on re-stripping this east west corridor is set to begin shortly from the eastern edge of the San Jose State University campus to Caltrain’s Diridon Station.
Just last November, San Jose Mercury News Columnist Scott Herhold wrote a column highlighting what was then planned changes in the downtown area to make cycling more convenient and safer for residents and visitors. In looking back, it is pretty amazing to see the changes that the city has made. Some of those changes include:
- Road Diet and Green Bike Lanes on Hedding Street north of downtown
- Buffered bike lanes on 3rd, 4th, 10th, and 11th streets
- Bay Area Bikeshare
- On street bike corral on South First St.
- and the previously mentioned Green Bike Lanes on San Fernando St.
Wrapping up the article Scott Herhold comments on cycling in San Jose.
I know: This talk does not endear a politician to the masses. Less than 1 percent of the commutes in San Jose occur by bicycle. It’s precisely for that reason that I admire Liccardo. And it’s not just because I ride a bike. It’s because he’s willing to incur political risk for long-term reward.
Although he claims that less than 1 percent of commutes in San Jose occur by bicycle he is using a stardard but unflattering statistic for cyclists. Herhold doesn’t provide a date for his numbers but anyone who has stepped out of their car and walked downtown recently knows that bicycle usage in the downtown core has increased dramatically. Here are some other ways to look at that statistic.
Those commute numbers count only bicycle commutes as those commutes that are spent on a bike for the full length of the trip. Cycling trips to and from buses, light rail, and trains don’t count as bicycle commutes in these scenarios. Also, of the 30,000 students attending San Jose State University who commute by bike are not counted since they are not commuting to “jobs”.
Fewer workers in this valley commute in the traditional sense by car but cycling has seen tremendous growth in trips to the store, trips taking children to school, trips to the college campus, and recreational rides. San Jose Bike Party, one of many organized rides in the city hosts as many as 5,000 riders a month.
Given the long distances involved in the average commute this would be the trip least likely to be done on a bicycle. A family may use a bicycle for just about every trip, but chances are the trip to one’s workplace would be the most likely to be performed by automobile.
Lastly, if you use his 1% figure this number represents all of San Jose, from the shoreline of Alviso in the north to the sprawling Almaden Valley in the south. In the southern expanses of the Santa Clara Valley, sprawling suburbs make for not only extremely boring rides of countless arterial roadways and cul-du-sacs but the sheer distance alone to stores, schools, and train stops make cycling very unattractive mode of transportation. However if you look in the more central (and more traditional) districts of the city such as the east side, downtown, Japantown, Willow Glen, and the Alameda, bicycle use has boomed. Especially in Council District 3 (map); Sam Liccardo’s own district which is centered in the downtown area, cycling usage is substantial. With the number of students living in the downtown area and the number of younger residents choosing downtown as home the rate of cycling is notable.
What UBSJ finds more amazing than the “less than 1%” number given is the fact that this number is still more than the number of votes that Sam Liccardo’s supporters cast in his last election. That number was only 6,305.