San Jose Bike Party

On Friday, March 20, I participated in a fun event called San Jose Bike Party. The “bike party” is organized by people who promote bicycling in San Jose. They pass out flyers at bike shops and use the internet to get the message out. There have been 18 “Bike Parties” so far and the 19th is coming up on April 17 at 8:45pm at the old Zorba the Greek Restaurant parking lot located at South Bascom Avenue and Stokes Avenue in District 6. The bike parties are themed events, around themes like mustaches, mardi gras, robots etc… The event has some of the flair of the Burning Man scene, plus some rockabilly style, but it also includes just regular bicycle enthusiasts.

I rode my vintage, made-in-Waterloo,-Wisconsin Trek bicycle with my bicycle partner, who works on a great program called Turning Wheels for Kids. After congregating at the shopping center, we were sounded off to obey the traffic rules, leave no rider behind, and to pick up any litter. San Jose Bike Party also encourages helmets plus both front and back bike lights—suggestions which I followed. Apparently, the more lights you had the cooler you were; some bikers that had lights wrapped around much of their respective bicycles.

At 9:20PM the Bike Party rolled south down Stokes and made a left on Southwest Expressway to Fruitdale. At this point it seemed like we were on the General Plan 2040 tour, passing several new housing developments across from the light rail line.  The group then massed to Willow Glen via side streets onto Lincoln Ave where 500 bicycles were counted by the event organizers. At this point we took up both right lanes on Lincoln Ave and little more. Onlookers were wondering what was going on, and the response was always the same as bikers yelled out “Bike Party!”

The caravan of bikes continued down Lincoln Ave and merged onto Almaden Expressway then went all the way to Blossom Hill making, a left turn en masse. The group pulled off at an empty strip mall parking lot to regroup. At this point the tandem bike that was towing a couch turned on a stereo and then younger folks started dancing instantly. After five-to-ten minutes we rode together through Oakridge Mall where again spectators were stunned by so many bicycles cruising by.  We then went all the way up to the Oakridge mall parking lot roof where we enjoyed a view of San Jose and again the music sounded and the dance party started again briefly.

From here, we went down Winfield to Pearl Avenue, passing another housing project at the Chynoweth Station (side note: not enough density in this development makes the attempt at retail nearly impossible). We then proceeded south passing the Capitol Auto Mall to the Rubino Circle neighborhood, and down to Old Almaden Road which put us back on Almaden Expressway. We then passed the Canoas Gardens neighborhood and made the fork back into Willow Glen, since my bicycle partner was tired. The Bike Party continued on all the way to Downtown finishing at SJSU. The ride was assisted by one or two SJPD cars off and on, offering automobile drivers awareness of the approaching bike party. Thank you SJPD.

If you like to ride a bike and enjoy people, then you may very well enjoy the next Bike Party. Remember to wear a helmet and grab some lights!

9 Comments

  1. Riding SJ’s pothole-laden streets @ night sounds like a broken rim, or at least a flat tire.

    Our streets are third world, but SJ has on its payroll a bicycle and pedestrian co-ordinator. I wonder what he makes, and how much support staff he has.

    We NEED roads, we do NOT NEED a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator.

  2. “We NEED roads, we do NOT NEED a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator.”

    What kind of disgusting, backwards idea of urban planning is that? Cities need all avenues of transit. We really should to be working on ways for people to not rely on their cars so much. Stop dumping money into patching holes so Hummers can rip them up again.

  3. Thank you Pierluigi, for coming out to ride with us!

    You support is needed, and we appreciate it!

    Thank you also for blogging about it, and helping us alert more and more people that the bike party is growing exponentially.

    You should come to the next planning meeting.  It is at Orchard Valley coffee in Campbell on 4/7/09 (tuesday).  Have a good one!

  4. Thanks for a great post about my favorite local event – I especially like the commentary about housing developments we passed.  That Ohlone-Chynoweth development always seemed sort of bizarre in the midst of the Pearl/Branham suburban nightmare. 

    San Jose should become the bike capital of the west in the next 20 years – our weather and terrain are unbeatable, the only drawback is abysmal urban planning in the 50s-70s that continues to keep this area bogged down as “Silly-car Valley” well into the 21st century.  I’m glad City Council and others are working on the solutions.

  5. SJ was once one of the world centers of professional bicycle racing. Barney Oldfield, the Lance Armstrong of 110 years ago, delighted crowds at the Agricultural Park on Race Street and there was a velodrome where Lincoln High’s playing fields are—until the 1930s, I believe.

  6. I discovered san jose on a bike nearly 20 years ago, cycling down el camino from palo alto just for kicks. I was floored by how groovy the rosegarden was, and the rest is history.

    San Jose is an ideal city for bicycling: great weather, flat streets, and many over-wide streets that can accommodate the addition of a bike lane relatively easily. In my twenty years here, the improvements for cyclists have been substantive. Extensions of Los Gatos and Coyote Creek trails, bikes on vta busses and caltrain, and many new bike lanes. The bike and ped guys in the city deserve due credit: they’ve done alot with few resources.

    For the last ten years I have commuted to work on caltrain with my bike. We have dumped the second car because we don’t need it anymore.

    SJ is already an *excellent* city to live in for cyclists, and will only get better. As a municipality, we should aim to maximize this built-in advantage, as bike-friendly cities are healthier, safer, and more tightly-knit communities. And for all you cost/benefit types: bike-friendly will become more and more attractive to the free-spending young professionals all cities desire.

  7. Right on Pier! Good on ya for giving the bike party a go.

    I’ve gone to a couple and they’re pretty fun. I’ll add that the pace is slow enough that pretty much anybody can keep up.

    Bring on the summer bike party!