San Jose moving forward with sidewalk riding ban

After cars killed 21 pedestrians in the city of San Jose last year, the San Jose Department of Transportation, under the direction of D3 council member Sam Liccardo, is moving forward with a plan to address the real issue: those doggone sidewalk cyclists.

San Jose safe cycling on sidewalks poster

At last night’s “Prioritizing Sidewalks for Pedestrians Pilot Program,” DOT staff received input from cyclists and members of the city Senior Citizen commission. Senior Commission members and those who walk and use transit in downtown are overwhelmingly in favor of a sidewalk riding ban, which would take place in the box bounded by Highway 87 to the west, 11th Street to the east, Julian Street to the north, and I-280 on the south.

Cyclists who routinely ride downtown agreed with the Senior Commission that everybody deserves to feel safe, and offered counterprosals — either a 5 MPH speed limit for sidewalk riders, or enforcement of existing state law on reckless riding. As far as I can tell, ah minority of cyclists who are in favor of a ban don’t routinely ride in downtown San Jose.

SJDOT indicated they plan to move forward with a staff recommendation to approve a proposed ban at the city of San Jose Transportation & Environment Committee meeting on Oct 6 at 1:30 pm.

A ran into a friend who told me he was stopped by San Jose police this morning and ordered to move right as he took the lane on westbound Santa Clara Street near Market Street. He attended last night’s sidewalk ban meeting, so the irony wasn’t lost on him. As you can see in the Google Streetview screenshot, Santa Clara Street is a five lane road with street parking; Ian rode in the center of the right lane to avoid the doorzone. While our cycling friend discussed the exceptions to CVC 21202 with Officer Friendly, he also discovered this officer is completely unaware of California’s new three foot passing law.

downtown San Jose Santa Clara Street streetview

That’s a nice Catch 22 — SJDOT works to remove cyclists from the sidewalk, while SJPD works to cite cyclists for impeding traffic.

Andrew Boone was there. He writes about Peninsula and South Bay transportation issues for Streetsblog SF so I think you can expect more from him about this.


  1. Did they talk at all about how to reduce the illegal and harassing behaviors of drivers that encourage people to ride the sidewalks instead of in the streets? Some of my faves:
    * Stopping or parking in the bus lanes on 1st and 2nd streets so all vehicle traffic is forced into a single lane, the lane that has the sharrows.
    * Close passes on Santa Clara Street, whether or not you take the lane or hug the door zone.
    * Speeding on wide open, pseudo-expressway streets like Julian?

    I don’t like sidewalk cycling. But it’s what happens when a city doesn’t fully consider bicycling when it plans its street network. The new bike lanes downtown are great, but they don’t get you everywhere you need to go on a bike without significant walking or riding on streets that only the “strong and fearless” feel comfortable riding on.

  2. there has been a long-standing ban on sidewalk cycling in downtown DC for years (, but it’s sparsely enforced.

    the secret to making this work, of course, is better on-road infrastructure for cycling. in my short time here in town, i’ve found that there are too many one-way streets where cyclists have no choice but to ride on the sidewalk (because let’s be honest – no one is going to bike the equivalent of 3 blocks out of the way to get to a location). streets like south 4th street are wide enough to have protected lanes for cyclists going both directions. that’s what needs to happen on each of the n/s streets downtown. with that infrastructure, cyclists won’t have any need to use the sidewalks.

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