IMPORTANT UPDATE: I just received word that the airport decided to keep Ewert open for cyclists, though they may have short-term closures. Thank you to San Jose Active Transportation Director John Brazil for making this happen. Jump to the final paragraphs below for important details (because temporary closures might still happen) and background.
Those of you who bike across the northern perimeter of San Jose International Airport might wonder how you can get from the Guadalupe River Trail to Central Expressway now that Ewert Road is closed.
The only detour that’s reasonably close is Trimble Road, across Highway 101. I shot video this morning to show the fun and excitement of this alternate route.
I’m so happy the Super Bowl Host Committee are so concerned about our safety and security.
For those unfamiliar with this area, Ewert Road is closed to motor vehicle traffic but open to those on foot or on bike to provide east-west access across the airport. Here’s video of cycling on this road.
The nearest alternate routes to the north are Trimble Road (shown in the top video) and Montague Expressway (which may be worse and also features an ugly interchange with Highway 101). People can also circle two miles south of the airport to Coleman Avenue (ha ha ha ha!) or Hedding Street (also yuck when going west).
Airport staff characterize this closing as an “inconvenience,” but folks on bikes still need to get to their destination, and these detours are, frankly, unacceptable for a good number of people who customarily ride on Ewert Road.
The airport is owned and operated by the City of San Jose, and the San Jose City Council is the final decision maker on airport matters. They generally approve recommendations of airport staff and the advisory San Jose Airport Commission, however. The next Airport Commission meeting takes place Monday February 29, and it’s probably past time for some cyclists to show up and ask the board to please consider talking with cyclists whenever they make decisions that impact us.
Most of the Airport Commissioners are aviation industry professionals. I don’t expect them to have the least bit of awareness of cyclist concerns, so it’s our job to inform them. I’ve tentatively identified a couple of commissioners that we should contact who may be sympathetic to cyclist concerns. They are:
- Julia Riera Matsushima. Her bio identifies her as an “urban dweller” who lives in downtown San Jose.
- Catherine Hendrix is a “senior management analyst” for the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) and is “passionate about environmental issues.” Catherine’s specific focus is transportation security, so her influence is especially important when it comes to balancing security with public access.
- Raul Peralez is the city council liaison to the Airport Commission and a strong supporter of cycling in and around downtown San Jose. He’s probably our best bet in getting cyclist access concerns on the Airport Commission agenda.
I’m also going to ask members of the San Jose BPAC to bring this up with council member Peralez and the Airport Commission. Ewert Road is an important link that we can’t afford to lose, even on a short term basis.
Ewert Road is not closed
I noticed the road closure announcement on Monday morning. I immediately notified the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition “San Jose Team” and confirmed this was news to them as well as city of San Jose DOT staffers. SJDOT immediately contacted airport staff. San Jose Airport Operations Manager Bob Swenson replied:
The airport, in conjunction with our local Airport Police, did believe in the interest of safety and security during Super Bowl Week it would be best to close this bike route. Starting tomorrow through Sunday we expect to stage 40’ ft. buses and limos in our former Long Term Parking Lot that will use Ewert Rd. to drive to the terminals to pick up their parties arriving to SJC. Additionally, it is possible that our rental car operations may use the former parking lot Sunday afternoon through Tuesday for staging an overflow of rental cars being returned to SJC. Due this unusually high volume of traffic on Ewert Rd. throughout this week that is not normally present, we felt it best to close it off to bike activity.
Airport staff believed this limited traffic on Ewert Road (which generally has zero traffic) would increase danger to cyclists. To reduce the danger, let’s ban all the bikes! This makes perfect sense until you think about it a little and realize we still need to get from point A to B.
With that said, due to the difficulty it apparently created for our cycling community there was a decision made about 2 hrs. ago to remove all ‘closure’ signage and reopen the route to cyclists. This is in process and the route is now available.
There is still the outside possibility through the remainder of this week, that Ewert Rd. may need to be closed temporarily certain safety and security reasons if warranted. This could possibly happen between now and next Tuesday but as it stands now, the route is available to cyclists, it is anticipated to remain open, and there are no additional or scheduled closures planned at this time.
I really appreciate that airport staff heard our concerns about this, and made a very quick decision. If you cycle on Ewert Road, please keep in mind that there will now be some cars and buses for the time being, and Ewert is still subject to possible short-term closures.