A word about the Hedding Street bikeway meeting

As part of the city of San Jose’s “Envision 2040” general plan and the 2020 Bike Plan, the city council directed the San Jose Department of Transportation to significantly expand the bikeway network to encourage more cycling as transportation.

DOT staff identified Hedding Street as an important east-west arterial that could be improved for cycling with minimal impact on existing traffic. Hedding is currently 60 feet wide between 17th Street in the east to 1st Street to the west, with four lanes carrying 16,500 vehicles per day.

Hedding Street San Jose

Although there are spots of commercial activity, Hedding is primarily residential.

SJDOT plans to do a 4-3 conversion — convert the 4 lanes into three lanes, which is one lane for each direction with a center turn lane (aka a so called “suicide lane”) — on Hedding between 17th and 1st. Buffered bike lanes will also be striped for this entire distance. On-street parking that provide parking for a total of 20 vehicles will be removed from four blocks to make room for the buffered bike lanes on both side of the road. I’m not certain but I believe the road geometry will be something like:

8′ bike lane
12′ lane 14′ center lane 12′ lane
8′ bike lane

SJ DOT held a neighborhood meeting about this proposed Hedding Street bikeway last Thursday. Roughly 40 people showed up, about half of whom were cyclists. A number of residents who otherwise support the traffic calming aspects of this project also came to the meeting because they’re concerned about losing “their” taxpayer-funded street parking. This is a natural and expected response — some of these residents have lived there for two decades and longer, and they’ve always been entitled to this benefit provided at public expense.

Two cranks also showed up who loudly and rudely interrupted the staff presentation of the plan. Both of these retired women tried to shout down anybody else who spoke up, and mostly succeeded in intimidating the pro-bike crowd, who later told me they feared an altercation if they tried to counter what these two women said. The two said they like having four lanes of speeding, noisy traffic in front of their homes.

That’s two people out of 40. So who gets the headline and press in yesterday’s Mercury News on the issue? The two squeaky wheels, of course:

Some Hedding Street residents pan San Jose’s bicycle-friendly plans

Mabel Rodarte, 83, who has lived in the same house on Hedding Street since 1950, doesn’t think a new bike lane makes sense for her community. The plan for Hedding Street would take away one lane of traffic in both directions as well as nearly all street parking.

A community meeting on Aug. 2 at the Joyce Ellington Library to discuss the bike lane plans with members of the Department of Transportation drew 30 to 40 residents, who Rodarte said showed up to express their discontent. Four supporters came, only one of whom lived on Hedding Street, she said.

That last sentence is an absolutely falsehood. About half of the attendees were supporters, and at least a dozen live on or within a block of Hedding Street.

The Hedding Street Bikeway will be discussed at the August 21 city council meeting, and is shaping up to be an important issue for San Jose cyclists. I’m talking with Carlos Babcock and a few other people about talking points and getting the word out, but if you live in San Jose, please contact you city representative and let them know how important you think the proposed primary bikeway network is. If Hedding Street is defeated, then we can kiss the entire bike plan goodbye.

I think you can count on support from Councilors Sam Liccardo and Pierluigi Oliverio, though it’s still good to let them know you have their backs. Liccardo especially needs your encouragement since he represents the residents most effected by the Hedding Street Road Diet. Rose Herrera has also supported cycling projects in San Jose. Pete Constant in District 1 (roughly bounded by Winchester, I-280, Campbell Ave and Lawrence Expy) tends to vote against this kind of stuff, though he does sometimes bike to city offices by bike. All of the others are possible swing votes.

Please keep your comments positive, and watch this space for talking points. I’d appreciate your suggestions for talking points and tactics int he comments below.


  1. I hope someone who went to the meeting is sending a message/letter to the editor to the Merc about the incorrect ratio of supporters to opponents. 

  2. I read that article with dismay too. I particularly liked this gem: “‘I’ve been sitting here to see how many bicycles are going by, and I’ve seen three,’ Rodarte said. ‘There’s no sense to it.'” And of course Ms Vorwerk doesn’t step up as a journalist to point out the obvious: Perhaps a *lot* more cyclists would ride their bikes on this street if it weren’t a high-speed arterial death trap!  Not to mention some of that new bike traffic would come from people who are currently driving their cars on that street, ultimately very potentially relieving congestion and definitely creating safer conditions for everyone. So unfortunate that these points seem lost on so many.

  3. That quote lept out at me too. I personally know two people who live either on Hedding or within a block and ride Hedding daily. I also know the bike racks outside of the library were completely full during this meeting, so more than three biked to this meeting. And, of course, your point that Hedding is currently very unpleasant to ride obviously will lead to fewer bikes on Hedding.

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