electrical bike San José’s daring new plan for climate-friendly transit
San José is rolling out the inexperienced carpet for biking, due to the town council’s unanimous passage of the Better Bike Plan 2025. With the plan’s adoption, the town commits to constructing a 550-mile community of motorbike lanes, boulevards and trails to assist 1000’s extra individuals journey safely.
The plan is lifelike concerning the previous, acknowledging San José’s sprawling 180-square-mile unfold, its car-oriented format and its inequitable historical past of transportation choices, which proceed to form individuals’s lives. However the plan additionally seems forward, aiming to create a metropolis the place anybody can comfortably bike to any neighborhood.
The deliberate community contains 350-plus miles of protected bike lanes, 100 miles of motorbike boulevards and 100 miles of off-street trails. Already, the town has constructed over 390 miles whole.
First, make it protected
The numbers are spectacular. However the numbers don’t inform the entire story.
With this plan and its creation, the town lays out a thoughtful approach to who feels snug biking, who doesn’t and find out how to invite extra individuals out onto bikes.
Many cities have been discovering inventive methods to assist their residents get round safely, healthily and affordably.
For too lengthy, bike lanes — not simply in San José however nationally — have been created for the few individuals who really feel high-quality biking on a road filled with quick visitors, protected by solely a line of white paint. The brand new plan acknowledges that’s typically not sufficient for individuals to really feel snug, as an alternative providing “the evolution of a motorbike lane,” first by simply widening that painted lane into buffer to create extra separation from visitors, then placing parked vehicles between bikes and visitors when attainable, after which constructing an entire raised curb between vehicles and the bike lane. Generally, as an alternative of including miles, it is necessary to return to make current miles of motorbike lanes higher and safer. The plan emphasizes that a lot of San José’s quiet residential streets can connect with create a “low-stress” community of “bike boulevards,” together with protected methods to get throughout the massive busy streets.
To create the plan, metropolis workers talked with residents. In addition they partnered with community-based organizations comparable to Veggielution, Latinos United for a New America (LUNA) and Vietnamese Voluntary Basis (VIVO). At conferences and focus teams in Spanish and Vietnamese in addition to English, metropolis workers and companions requested residents: What would assist make them extra more likely to bike?
Paramount throughout communities was concern for security.
Construct fast, intention excessive
Town already has proven that it could transfer rapidly. With its Higher Bikeways mission and with the help of the Bloomberg Philanthropies American Cities Local weather Problem, San José may have constructed 15 miles of protected bike lanes between 2018 and 2020.
The “quick-build” mannequin is spectacular. Just a few of us from the Local weather Problem acquired to tour San José’s downtown by bike last year with Mayor Sam Liccardo and the Nationwide Affiliation of Metropolis Transportation Officers (NACTO). We pedaled alongside new inexperienced lanes, protected by sturdy inexperienced posts and full with ingenious bus islands which can be wheelchair-accessible and permit bus riders to cross bike lanes safely. The inexperienced posts that shield bikers look reassuringly stable however they’re really plastic, making them low-cost, simple to put in but imposing sufficient to kind a sort of low wall between bikes and automobile visitors. It felt protected.
Now the trick is to construct out from downtown, connect with neighborhoods and get extra individuals utilizing them.
Town has set formidable objectives for “bike mode share,” which implies the proportion of all journeys individuals take within the metropolis by bicycle. San José’s present Common Plan goals for 15 % bike commute mode share by 2040, and its Local weather Sensible plan seeks to achieve 20 % by 2050.
These are tall orders. At this time, simply 1 % of commute journeys within the metropolis are made by bike, though a metropolis survey discovered that 3 % of individuals reported biking as their major method of attending to work and much more residents utilizing a motorbike as a backup mode of transportation. Of commute journeys to downtown, 4 % are by bike. These numbers would possibly sound small, but it surely’s necessary to contemplate that bike commuting is on the rise: Between 1990 and 2017, San José noticed a 28 % improve in commute journeys made by bike.
However not all journeys are commute journeys; in actual fact, in San José, just one in 5 journeys are to and from work. That’s very true in these teleworking instances. Encouragingly, the plan notes that 60 % of all journeys individuals make within the metropolis are lower than 3 miles lengthy. These quick journeys, mixed with the town’s delicate local weather and flat terrain, make biking possibility, creating the chance for the town to attain its daring objectives.
The Higher Bike Plan 2025 features a five-year motion plan of prioritized initiatives to implement and coordinates with the town’s paving program to economize. It gives a variety of prices to make these modifications, from fast and non permanent to extra everlasting, that whole roughly $300 million.
The prioritized initiatives listed within the plan — the listing of streets the place bike enhancements will go — have been chosen with three goals:
- Improve biking mode share: Areas the place bicycle journeys are almost definitely, based mostly on elements comparable to inhabitants, employment and connections to transit, downtown and the present bike lane community.
- Improve security: Tasks that may repair “high-injury” streets the place collisions are most critical and frequent.
- Improve fairness: Low-income and traditionally underserved neighborhoods, additionally referred to as “Communities of Concern,” particularly simply to the south, east and north of downtown. Folks dwelling in these neighborhoods are more likely to have fewer transportation choices, much less entry to a personal automobile and could also be important employees, required to indicate up at a job in particular person day-after-day. Extra protected, wholesome, inexpensive transportation choices are wanted, and shortly.
What comes subsequent: A time for motion
On this tough 12 months, many cities have been discovering inventive methods to assist their residents get round safely, healthily and affordably. Biking nationally has boomed. San José has launched an Al Fresco program that repurposes streets for out of doors eating.
In March, close by Oakland launched the nation’s first and most formidable “Open Streets” program alongside its deliberate bike community, performing rapidly to make these streets safer by discouraging most automobile visitors. Oakland’s Open Streets program additionally creates extra protected out of doors areas for individuals in neighborhoods with much less entry to open area, reduces crowding at Lake Merritt and different parks and frees up extra space for social distancing than sidewalks usually provide. Oakland lately launched a report to assist cities within the Bay Space and past be taught from its instance.
San José has a much less dense footprint than Oakland, however its residents nonetheless have an important want for protected, inexpensive transportation in these instances. Town can take its considerate Higher Bike Plan as a place to begin to behave rapidly, and rebuild its streets to deliver protected biking to all.