Hey, you, bicyclists over the age of 12: Get off the sidewalks. Enough people complained about your scofflaw ways that the city’s about to crack down on the pedestrian-scaring practice. Well, sort of.
City officials are talking about putting up signs in downtown to remind the world that it’s already a no-no in California for cyclists to usurp pedestrian walkways.
Councilman Sam Liccardo, whose district spans downtown, raises the issue in a memo going before the Rules and Open Government Committee on Wednesday. A bunch of folks, mostly elderly downtown apartment-dwellers, have been telling Liccardo and other city officials about the problem concentrated in the area bounded east-to-west by 11th Street to Highway 87 and north-to-south by Julian Street and I-280, he says.
“Several have complained that they’re afraid to walk on the sidewalks because adult men zip by at unsafe speeds, startling them with a series of ‘near-misses,’” Liccardo writes, clearly giving a free pass to lady bikers.
A couple people even got hurt, he adds. Liccardo’s not the first to bring attention to the problem. David Wall, whose missives invariably dominate the Rules agenda, mentioned a close-call of his own back in January.
Police may lack the time to enforce these new rules, but posting no-biking-on-the-sidewalk signs could embolden pedestrians scurrying around downtown “to nag violators” enough to put a stop to the practice, Liccardo says.
And here’s another reason to get off the sidewalk, cyclists: Police and councilmember(s) think you might be a thieving drug dealer
Formalizing the new cycling rules could empower police to stop more bicyclists by creating grounds to pull them over on “reasonable suspicion” when they appear to be up to something “insidious,” like casing a joint or wheeling around a spot known for drug dealing, Liccardo says.
Alas, the new rules fit in with the city’s grander vision of creating a more walkable downtown. The concentration of senior apartments and high-density condos already make for more foot traffic than in other districts. Add to that a bunch of new apartments and high-rise mixed-use development, now in the pipeline, and you get another 2,000 residents in downtown within the next few years. That means more people milling around on foot, more sidewalk cafes, more reason for cyclists to stay in the bike lanes where they belong, Liccardo says.
“It’s time to encourage cyclists to use what has been designed for them,” he says.
Skateboarding on sidewalks, by the way, is totally cool. Just kidding. Liccardo says this is already forbidden as well.
• The 14th floor of City Hall sits hollow from layoffs, budget cuts and a shuttered Redevelopment Agency. But “a silver lining to this very dark cloud has emerged,” Liccardo says. There’s some prime office space up for grabs. The city will lease to just about anyone—nonprofit, for-profit or government—as long as they contribute to the city’s economic development. Leases go for market rates.
Experimenting with leasing out city space is part of a larger effort to build public-private partnerships, Liccardo writes in the memo.
“As a result, we’ve leaned heavily on the Silicon Valley Leadership Group to help us bring new flights to our airport, on the Downtown Association to help fund facilitators for permitting assistance, on commercial real estate brokers to fashion a downtown marketing strategy and on peer-to-peer relationships with local CEOs to recruit companies interested in moving here,” he continues.
A selling point for the office digs is its closeness to the municipal public powers that be.
“It is axiomatic that proximity to decision makers and governmental authority is valued in the private and nonprofit sector,” Liccardo notes. “A brief survey of commercial lease rates near key federal buildings in Washington D.C. can attest to that. We should leverage that desire to promote fruitful economic development opportunities and to generate much-needed revenues for the General Fund.”
• That homeless camp the Rules Committee’s resident town crier, David Wall, has written about for months made regional news in the alst couple weeks. The city released a memo announcing its plans to dismantle the 100-tent settlement by the Guadalupe River because it’s an eyesore, it’s unsanitary and enough people besides Wall complained about it to prompt some action.
Well, it’s still there in the meantime, and Wall has more to say about “The Ghetto Life: Camp Chuck Sam!” Wall says it’s “[s]till alive festering all the while in its fetid glory!”
WHAT: San Jose Rules and Open Government Committee meets
WHEN: 2pm Wednesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: Kathy Carrillo, 408.535.1254