On Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 1:00 p.m., representatives from the City of San José, Our City Forest, and the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition will roll paint in an effort to get more bicycles rolling in the city. The event will take place on Hedding Street at the Guadalupe River Trail on the west side of Highway 87. The painters will inaugurate San José’s first green colored pavement in a marked bikeway – a mile and a half bike lane on Hedding Street, connecting the future Berryessa BART station in East San José to the Guadalupe River Park and Trail, which runs north-south through downtown.
Hedding Street Green lanes media event location on Hedding Street on the Guadalupe River Trail.
The bike project is part of a larger Hedding Street makeover that includes pavement rehabilitation, tree planting, and reconfiguration of the roadway. Hedding Street will be converted from a four-lane road with two lanes of traffic in each direction to a three-lane road with two lanes of traffic in each direction and a center lane for left turns.
The City Council unanimously approved the street narrowing project in 2012, making a policy choice to accept some increased traffic congestion during the peak traffic hour in exchange for a calmer, safer and more community-friendly street during all hours. The green lanes were proposed as a compromise after two residents along Hedding told the city council they didn’t want parking removed.
Hedding Street looking west from 4th Street as it currently appears. The city will begin a 4/3 lane reduction and add a green bike lane from 1st Street to 17th Street in San Jose, California.
“I am pleased that we have been able to stretch our limited transportation funds to provide the community not just smooth streets, but also safer and more livable streets,” said Hans Larsen, San José’s Director of Transportation. “Hedding Street’s current configuration is viewed as a high speed traffic barrier that bisects the community and inhibits access to neighborhood schools and parks. By redesigning the street, we can calm traffic, serve all travel modes, and create a friendly place for people, not just cars.”
The street will also become more aesthetically-inviting as a result of Our City Forest planting 40 new street trees along the route, with the help of more than 100 volunteers. In time, these young trees will shade those who bike or walk along the street as well as beautify the area. The trees also advance the City’s Green Vision goal to install 100,000 new street trees by 2022.
“Bicycling is good for our health – and even more so if we bike along streets with healthy tree canopies,” says Rhonda Berry, Executive Director of Our City Forest. “Shade trees cool scorching asphalt, filter dangerous air particulates, soften urban noise, block harmful sun rays, and alleviate stress. Trees provide more and more benefits as they grow, increasing their value over time. For all of these reasons, trees are an essential component of any city street, especially those with a bike path.”
Hedding Street’s new bike lane is a key link in the 500-mile citywide bicycle network that San José is building. Within that larger network is a 140-mile system of primary bikeways that function as the bicycle equivalent of the City’s arterial roadway system. These cross-town bikeways are enhanced in one of several ways: they are painted green, physically separated from vehicle traffic by buffer zones or barriers, or are off-street trails. Bicyclists traveling the length of the new Hedding Street bikeway, from the future Berryessa BART station to the Guadalupe River Trail, will roll past residential neighborhoods, Burnett Middle School, Bernal Park, Santa Clara County offices, bike lanes on 7th , 10th , 11th and 17th Streets, and the Civic Center Light Rail Station.
In addition to narrowing Hedding Street, the City is planning to paint the new bike lane green to increase the safety of bicyclists. Studies have found that colored bike lanes are more visible to motorists, and consequently safer for bicyclists. By enhancing safety and expanding San José’s bicycle network, the City hopes to encourage more residents to hop on their bikes rather than slip behind the wheel. Doing so will help San José realize its goal to decrease solo driving and significantly increase the percentage of people who use “green mobility”, such as transit, walking and bicycling, as their preferred mode of travel.
“We’re very excited to see Hedding Street get the highly visible, comfortable bike infrastructure it needs,” said Corinne Winter, Executive Director of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. “This stretch of the bicycle network will connect the fabulous buffered bike lanes on 10th and 11th Streets with the Guadalupe River Trail, creating an uninterrupted route for commuting and recreation that truly serves San José’s goal of 5% of trips taken by bike by 2020.”
Coming up in mid-July, the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition will organize a community ride along the new Hedding Street bikeway and adjoining bike routes to celebrate the green bike lane’s opening.
Later in the year, other bike-friendly projects will be installed in the Downtown San Jose area, including green lanes along San Fernando Street and a public bike sharing system.