Op-Ed: Mayor’s Bonebreaking Bike Collision Was No ‘Accident’

On New Year’s Day, Sam Liccardo, the mayor of San Jose, fractured his sternum and two vertebrae due to a traffic accident after colliding with an SUV while riding his bike.

Thank goodness he’s OK—but was it really an accident?

“Accident” is a word almost universally used to describe traffic collisions. That’s understandable. After all, it’s not like the nice person driving the Toyota Highlander started their day intent upon hitting Liccardo. But for those of us on the inside of the street-safety movement, the word “accident” perpetuates the notion that the crash was unavoidable, just an unfortunate incident that couldn’t be prevented.

The reality is, how we design our streets is no accident. Cities are full of engineers, planners, and public works professionals who go to school for years in order to plan, design, and build vital city infrastructure.

So what happened here? Is it right to call this an accident?

The mayor was pedaling east on Mabury Road, a route I ride at least once a week. Mabury is a thoroughfare that many recreational bicyclists use to get to the East Foothills because, comparatively speaking, it has a nice bike lane with good sight lines.

The mayor’s crash happened at Salt Lake Drive, where a driver was crossing Mabury. The driver says they did not see the mayor and, as a result, crossed the street directly into his path. Is there some way that this intersection could be changed that could have prevented this collision? Is the street overly wide? Does the on-street parking impact visibility?

The scene of the collision.

First, a little background.

Traffic collisions are the leading cause of death for teenagers. On average, 35,000 people die in car crashes every year with an additional 2.5 million injuries. In San Jose, the good news is that fatalities on our streets have been declining. In 2015 there were 60 traffic deaths and in 2018 there were 52, 18 of which were drivers or passengers. To put that in context, that’s about 4.3 deaths per month on our streets. That’s everyone—cars, pedestrians and bikes. The bottom line is that our streets are not safe for anyone, regardless of transportation mode.

Is it an accident that our streets happen to be one of the most dangerous places to be?

The answer is no, and that answer has been taken up by a global movement called Vision Zero. Vision Zero is the bold goal that we will reduce to zero the number of major injuries and fatalities on our roadways. One of its main premises is that with better street design, our roads will be safe.

Design is no accident.

Take this orange couch, for example.

How many people will sit on it? The answer is two. Why? Because the couch designer made it with two seat cushions and in our brains, that signals that just two people will fit. In reality, however, the couch is big enough to comfortably seat three. If the designer made a version with three cushions, people would be more likely to fit three across.

This seemingly small design element impacts how we behave. The same is true of our streets. Wide roads with lots of lanes trigger us to think we can drive fast. Narrow the lanes down to 10 feet and we instinctively slow down.

Slower speeds equal safer streets. This is only one example of how design impacts safety.

San Jose is in the midst of a bicycle renaissance. Calling it the Better Bikeways Network, the city is rapidly designing and implementing a grid of protected and enhanced bike lanes downtown. But the changes are causing some confusion. People are asking why the city put those bollards on that corner like that? Why was that tan box painted there? And why can’t I drive my car all the way through on St. John Street?

There is intentional thinking behind all of this. Take the intersection of San Fernando Street and Almaden Avenue. There, the city has used paint and bollards to create a right turn that, for most drivers, is now a pain in the tuchus. This is no accident. Those bollards and paint have been arranged in a way that make it next to impossible to take that corner at high speeds. It forces drivers to slow down, making the roads safer for all.

These kinds of changes don’t come easy. Reallocating street space, slowing down speeds and placing greater emphasis on other forms of transportation typically faces strong resistance, despite the safety payoff.

But imagine this: a transportation system in which folks arrive at their destination with a smile, a system that doesn’t create stress, frustration, fear, obesity, or air pollution. This is what the city of San Jose is striving to do and what we at the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition will continue to pedal toward.

We look forward to the mayor’s speedy recovery, and will continue to work aggressively with the city to create safe streets for all. Will you join us? Get involved here or sent a note to [email protected].

Shiloh Ballard is the executive director of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. In addition to serving on numerous nonprofit boards and community commissions, she enjoys reading, cooking, growing vegetables and mountain biking. She lives with her long-time partner, Dan King, and their cats Lily and Butter in San Jose. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Send op-ed pitches to [email protected]

64 Comments

  1. > Shiloh Ballard is the executive director of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition.

    Here’s a suggestion for Shiloh.

    Instead of TELLING everybody YOUR vision of utopia that you would like to force on everyone, why not, someday, try having a DIALOGUE with someone you disagree with and try to understand THEIR vision of utopia.

    And then . . . ACCEPT CHANGE.

      • I don’t know about BUBBLE, but MY vision is to have outreach happen BEFORE changes are made not after as happened with 10th and St. John. SLOW DOWN, (Supposedly) Better Bikeways! That change has caused longer response times from SJFD. The protected bike lanes are also slowing response times. Does anyone at bbw check to see if proposed changes conflict with other planning that’s happening, such as urban villages or do they just ram through what they want? I suggest making them (bbw) have the planning department, police and fire check up on all of their projects before they can begin.

    • I recognize that you don’t want to share the road with cyclists but not sure how that relates to saying Shiloh doesn’t have dialogues? My theory is anyone using capitals in their online dicussions isn’t very good with dialogue. You seem to prefer yelling.

      • > My theory is anyone using capitals in their online dicussions isn’t very good with dialogue.

        OK, Margaret.

        Give me a second chance.

        Let’s have a dialogue.

        I think giving over 5o percent of city streets for the benefit of one or two percent of the traffic, and creating dangerous and hazardous situations, is a bad idea.

        What do you think?

        (How am I doing so far?)

        • Perhaps I can help answer San Jose Outside the Bubble’s question.

          First, greetings.

          I agree that giving more than 50 percent of streets for cyclists’ exclusive use would be a bad idea.

          However, that doesn’t describe San Jose or anywhere else except maybe Mackinac Island, Michigan. Maybe 1 in every 50 streets citywide has any kind of bike lane, if that many. There are streets that could benefit from one that don’t have one. It remains scary to ride a bike from downtown San Jose to Santana Row, De Anza College, or Milpitas, or along White Road, etc., etc.

          It’s true that cyclists comprise perhaps 5 percent of road traffic at most. But I suspect traffic works like a chemical reaction that precipitates: add a small percentage of additional cars and a road freezes up; take away a small percentage and formerly sluggish vehicle traffic flows freely. We relatively few cyclists, along with the e-scooters San Jose has wisely welcomed, may have an outsized effect in freeing up motor vehicle traffic.

          Another thing I’ve noticed is that it’s often faster to do errands by bike. Let’s say you live where Mayor Liccardo’s accident occurred. You could drive to the nearest libraries (I assume Educational Park Drive or Piedmont Road) in maybe eight minutes. But you could bicycle there in about 12 minutes. It’d be similar with the nearest post office—only a slight difference in average speed.

          In exchange, you get physical fitness, relaxation, time perhaps saved by fewer doctor appointments for conditions related to sedentary living, less wear and tear on the car, saved gasoline or electricity, and a tiny reduction in our daily contributions to global warming via hydrocarbon emissions.

          To me, that benefits everyone. If the bicycle infrastructure increases bicycle use to even 10 percent of trips, I suspect car drivers will share in those benefits.

          What I wouldn’t mind doing is retiring bus routes with few riders and letting e-scooters and taxis or ride-sharing take over, with vouchers for the poor. Underused public transit is a waste of time, space, and money.

          And then there are the beer trucks that block vehicle lanes and bike lanes throughout San Jose. If we’re drinking that much beer, let’s install beer pipelines and get rid of those trucks and their loud, slamming metal curtains and constant blocking of roads.

          • > Another thing I’ve noticed is that it’s often faster to do errands by bike.

            But, on the other hand, bikes are not very useful for delivering a load of concrete, a couple of cubic yards of topsoil for your landscaping project, a new sofa, or for hauling away construction debris after repair the termite damage to your house.

            Do you think your errands are more important than my topsoil?

          • @ San Jose Outside the Bubble — No, I don’t. My hope is that my being on a bike and not in front of you in a car at a red light will let you get your topsoil home sooner.

            I’m a car owner too, by the way, and haul stuff from Home Depot. But if I’m grocery shopping, a big messenger bag is usually all I need. Much of San Jose is flat, and carrying 20 pounds on my back requires little additional effort.

        • Much better, thanks! I can understand peoples frustration with the changes if they see it is impacting their ability to get around. I actually live up north but go down to San Jose often enough and I was always impressed by how much space you have for cycling around down town. I would like to add a benefit of safe cycling, designated streets and painted lines , etc, getting kids to ride to school. Not sure about your kids, if you have any, but American children are getting heavier and spending way too much time watching screens. Riding a bike was one of the first known freedoms I experienced when young. Noone is going to let their children ride on a road without any kind of safety measure. In fact, many let their kids ride on the sidewalk, and we know where that argument goes. I can understand if you have injuries or disabilities that won’t allow bike riding, but for the rest of us, doing a few errands by bike is so much easier, without parking worries. And if you want a large load to carry, you can use a burly. I drive also but would prefer the bike because it is less stressful. The only way to encourage cycling among those who don’t do it, is to make it safe.
          thank you,

          • > The only way to encourage cycling among those who don’t do it, is to make it safe.

            Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you are correct:

            How is the average person supposed to know that cycling in bike lanes on busy urban streets used by marijuana addled SIlicon Valley millennials driving high speed Tesla’s — how is the average person supposed to know these bike lanes are safe?

            The San Jose ruling class does not seem to be the least bit interested in being “open and transparent” about the safety — or lack of safety — of bicycling and bike lanes.

            Step one toward convincing me and other members of the public of the safety and wonderfulness of bike lines is transparency and full disclosure.

            TELL THE TRUTH, THE FULL TRUTH, AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH.

            All we ever get is Sophistic narrative intended to “convince the public’ and “win the argument, and get somebody’s budget project past the next funding hurdle.

            If you really want people to believe in bike lanes, call Mayor Liccardo and the spear carriers of the bike lane claque and TELL THEM to provide FULL, UNBIASED data and analysis on the COST, EFFICACY, SAFETY, TRAFFIC IMPACT, ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT, etc. etc. of the bike lines.

            “The truth shall set you free”.

  2. Well Miss Ballard you certainly have some interesting points. Lets extend those thoughts to some other common sense solutions.

    Most of the streets in downtown San Jose, like most other cities in the country were laid well over 100 years ago for horse’s and buggies, not for cars trucks or bicycles. That’s why you spent millions of taxpayer dollars on painting green lines and putting obstacles on the streets so bicyclist can take over down town. Farther out the streets got wider 4 lanes plus parking 6 lanes because we realized that more people were driving farther to new neighbor hoods laid out so most house weren’t on the main streets like Maybury but on side streets like Salt Lake. That kept the side streets safe for kids riding bikes and pedestrians walking to the play ground. Those new wide streets were made for the vast MAJORITY who drive cars to work and shopping. they also built freeways for the same reason. Like my mother used to say 60 years ago stay out of the street the cars and drivers can’t see you, you could get killed. My mother was pretty smart for someone born about a hundred years ago.

    Today I find our 6 lanes have parking and one lane in each direction plus a whole wasted lane for an occasional bike. Now traffic is backed up people are late and pissed off because there is no longer a right turn lane that could be moving when there is no traffic coming from the left. and they speed up and do stupid thing like texting and making cell phone calls. Point; this was deliberately done by the powers that be, AKA Da Mayor and people like you to give the MAJORATY, the FINGER!

    The Point; Like sanctuary cities you have made things more dangerous for us and your selves and that was no accident.
    At the other end of Maybury is another traffic hazard, dozens of homeless people living on and in the street, and I do mean the street. It’s a two lane road mostly no side walk no green lines no bollards, no reflectors or flashing lights, this is an unsafe condition deliberately left to fester by people like Da Mayor……yet there they are living on the same street the Mayor likes to play on. No Shame?

    Lets look at that orange couch It’s not for two people it was made for 4 people you forgot to count the buttons. Maybe we should paint some green lines on it. or perhaps a bollard to center each bicyclist tiny butt. Ha I just gave you the finger!

    The world is getting faster not slower Miss Bollard if you want to slow down I suggest you join us old folks over here on couch, not mine there is a TV remote and some cup holders and its a powered recliner. We can go for a nice slow ride later down Salt Lake to Penitencia Creek, the back way up to Alum Rock Park, a nice slow place to ride a bike for the last 100 years you can ride the creek trail its for bikes! Hey maybe you could get Da Mayor to fix the Alum Rock entrance for the cars, it is a city park, and a whole lot safer than Sierra Rd which was never intended for bikes.

    • People rode bikes before they drove cars, and they also walked a lot, so it’s safe to say that streets were designed for bikes and pedestrians before cars came along and tried to take them over. What is needed are complete streets that welcome everybody who is willing to share the street with other modes of transport.

      As for your point about sanctuary cities, what is wonderful about them, (I live in one) is that people are not afraid to go to the police to report crimes. The criminals who prey on immigrants know this.

  3. Another HUGE issue with the current and planned bike lane changes in San Jose is the almost COMPLETE lack of understanding on access for people with disabilities. The street in front of my home is a nightmare as I cannot access the curb from the drop off point. The proposed “speed bumps” are poorly designed.

    I will say that the bike planning team is willing to listen but I have seen little-to-no action to remedy the situations.

    • .> Another HUGE issue with the current and planned bike lane changes in San Jose is the almost COMPLETE lack of understanding on access for people with disabilities.

      Yes. For sure.

      > I will say that the bike planning team is willing to listen but I have seen little-to-no action to remedy the situations.

      Once you have learned to fake sincerity, there are no limits on your future in politics.

  4. “San Jose is in the midst of a bicycle renaissance..the city is rapidly designing and implementing a grid of protected and enhanced bike lanes downtown.”

    Yet I still have to dodge bikes riding on the crosswalk.

  5. Ms Ballard asks: ” Is it right to call this an accident?”

    Answer: Absolutely. It was an accident. Any other word is an attempt to put an Orwellian spin on what was an accident; nothing more or less.

    The public is being pushed by a relatively small group of self-serving bicycle activists toward a totally unreachable goal, which would allow them to scold drivers incessantly. Instead of having a reasonable discussion such as, “We will work toward reducing traffic accidents, consistent with a risk/reward policy, their own “Vision Zero” states:

    We will reduce to zero the number of major injuries and fatalities on our roadways.

    Is that an attainable goal? ZERO?

    Is there any possibility of reaching that goal?

    No. No matter how much money is spent, no matter how much effort is expended, injuries and fatalities will never be reduced to zero. Ask anyone in the insurance underwriting business. It’s simply un-possible, whenever bicycles and motor vehicles share the same roads. So the paople they consider the enemy – the drivers – can never win. They will always be ‘wrong’.

    Until recently, drivers graciously accepted the presence of bicycles on the roads that were built by and for motor vehicles. And if not for motor vehicles, there would be no streets and roads for bicycles to ride on.

    But bicyclists have abused their privelege, by working surreptitiously to deny drivers up to half the city streets, for bicyclists’ own exclusive use.

    The loss of traffic lanes has brought about immense congestion, and it greatly inconveniences everyone living on or near those streets. Everyone who uses those streets has longer commute times, and those idling cars emit substantially more pollution – and all for an occasional bicycle rider.

    But bicyclists don’t care. And as we’ve seen, the new bicycle lanes do not make the roads accident free. If anything, they make drivers more complacent. Bicycle lanes are no safer than the streets were, before they took away those traffic lanes, and they obviously failed to provide more safety for the Mayor.

    Furthermore, for every 100+ drivers going passing the traffic lanes that they can no longer use, drivers might notice one, or two bicycle riders – if even that many. Often, there are none to be seen.

    So a numerically tiny group has quietly inserted itself into the catbird seat, with the unstated goal of eliminating automobiles by making it more and more difficult for drivers. They want nothing less than to force everyone onto bicycles. But what about the majority? Drivers outnumber bicycle commuters by hundreds to one.

    We’ve seen the carnage that results when too many bicycles crowd city streets, like during San Francisco’s weekend bicycle takeover of the streets: The slightest perceived infraction by a driver brings an instant crowd of bycicle riders, and drivers’ cars are routinely pummeled with fists and hit with sticks by two-wheeled hooligans, who presume that the streets belong to them, and not the drivers.

    On the other hand, whenever someone suggests that bicycles should be licensed and pay their fair share of annual registration fees like cars do to maintain our streets and roads, the peddlers act all put upon, as if they should be entitled to ride free, and drivers should have to pay all registration fees. But now that they’ve managed to eliminating half our city streets for their own exclusive use, paying an annual fee equal to the average car registration would appear to be a very minor expense, in return for the immense benefit they’re getting.

    But their answer is always the same: NO-O-O-O-O!!

    Since city streets and roads were built by and for motor vehicles, why shouldn’t bicycle riders pay an annual registration fee for what they’ve been using for free? I look forward to Ms Ballard’s response.

    Ms. Ballard also puts emphasis on her goal of making drivers go much slower, her apparent goal presumably being no faster than people can peddle.

    But most drivers are quite satisfied with current speed limits, which were set when there were far more accidents than there are now. Bicycle riders are welcome to use city streets. But if cars are going too fast for them, why not just go where there are no cars? There are plenty of places like that available.

    This accident, and many similar ones in bicycle lanes, indicates that the lanes do not make commuting any safer for bicyclists. But bicycle lanes cost taxpayers $28 million per mile. For what? And if bicyclists want to ride for pleasure, there are literally hundreds of miles of bicycle trails, tracks, and paths, away from commuter routes. Why not use those instead?

    Finally, I have a suggestion to resolve this difference of opinion:

    Let’s have a long, city-wide discussion about the current “road diets” (where our traffic lanes are being converted to bicycle-only lanes).

    Then, after a thorough discussion, let’s have a vote by all those affected; drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.

    Let We The People decide. That’s fair, no?

    Otherwise, what we have is yet another “Tail Wags The Dog” situation, where a very tiny number of self-serving activists has managed to fly under the radar, and put their plan in place that reduces most of our two lane city streets to a single traffic lane – with the concomitant congestion, idling pollution, and wasted time. Again: for what?

    Why should ahandful of bicycle riders be allowed to greatly inconvenience hundreds, if not thousands of drivers, who then must commute using only one lane where there used to be two?

    Why, Ms Ballard? Do you have a reasonable answer? If so, it isn’t in your article.

    • Mr. Smokey
      I think you have the makings of a great voter initiative, either that we start seeding the green zones with carpet tacks.

  6. I have that 3 seat sofa. Guests still avoid the sandwich seat like a plague. It makes everyone uncomfortable.

    Bad metaphor. Just like bad thinking on the part of the city planners. Trying to force a bicycle culture on San Jose seems elitist to me. It doesn’t reduce traffic and doesn’t reduce the number of cars people have to buy. The way city is designed, virtually everyone has to use a car for their jobs or business. Except for the billionaires and politicians – who can afford to do anything they like.
    Most of the bikers I see are doing it for pleasure – I don’t know why the city has to subsidize it. But it is all explained by the fact that Mayor Sam Licardo is an avid biker.
    I pray for his speedy recovery, as I like the man. But I don’t like the bike policy of San Jose.

    One day, we will have campuses which will be easily navigable by bikes. Google campus is one example. That day, I will be the biggest supporter of bikes. And no, I don’t work for google.

  7. Reports I read said that Sam was travelling east on Maybury and the SUV was going south on Salt Lake when they pulled out to make a right on Maybury and Sam ran into the side of the SUV. This would mean that Sam was travelling East on the wrong side of the street. It’s no wonder the SUV didn’t see him if they weren’t looking to the right for an oncoming cyclist.

      • > As a city councilmember a decade ago, he helped create Bike Plan 2020, which aimed to install a 500-mile bikeway network in the city and halve the number of car-bike collisions by 2020. (A 2017 status report said the city had reached a total of about 300 miles of bike lanes and off-street trails so far.)

        So, WHERE ARE THE BIKE SAFETY REPORTS?

        Has “Bike Plan 2020” halved the number of car-bike collisions?

        WHAT ARE THEY HIDING?

      • That article is inaccurate several times (there was no announcement about 10 more miles of protected lanes) and does not clarify the question about direction of travel and the broken window on the drivers side.

        • Mayor was probably going west not east as in the police report. Maybury is downhill going west at that point. The mayor was probably going 20mph or better. I use to commute on Maybury ( riding my bike :-) ). I also use to take salt lake after picking my daughter up from day care ( on a bike. ) . Yeah, I ride a bike so take it all with a grain of salt.

    • I looked at the google map. Salt Lake has a stop sign. Maybury doesn’t. Sam was likely going on the wrong side of the road, there is no other way that the SUV could have turned into him as the article states. In which case the driver should not have been sited.
      Hope he challenges his citation.

  8. No Ms Ballard, THERE IS NO GOOD REASON TO CLOSE ST JOHN ST AT 10TH! NONE. It forces more people to go through the Santa Clara/10th St light, which is already backed up 3 blocks past Julian, in large part because of the lane stolen for bicycles 8(?) years ago – another bike lane nobody uses. This St John closure was pushed through with no neighborhood input, I know this because the only meeting I was told of (I own a house a half block away), that closure had apparently already been decided (but you all lied about that – to my face) with input you received from bicycle groups. Imbecilic children.

    BTW, as a bicycle rider in the downtown/central area for over 30 years (all the side streets were as safe as can be, as they are today) the mayor’s accident highlights the lunacy of your latest fad – “protected” bike lanes. If a driver cannot see the bicyclist in an open bike lane, how are drivers expected to see them behind parked cars? I know I don’t want to be hidden, your people seem to avoid that question. Simply stupid, I cannot begin to express my disdain for you, your ideas and your methods of secretly foisting this nonsense on the masses who are negatively affected daily – for the RECREATIONAL desires of the 5%.

    If we had people in city hall interested in more than their own RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES (they openly admit this doubling down on stupidity is focused on recreational riders since commuters have not taken to bicycling), we would use our very expensive real estate and space in creating the best VALUE for our citizens. For example, taking 1/3 of 10th and 11th Streets 8 years ago now results in 4-6 bicycle riders/hour during rush hours. This is no more than before bicycle lanes in my experience and your own survey concedes that San Jose has no more bicyclists than any other city without your so-called “bicycle renaissance”. Meanwhile, cars are backed past Julian for the Santa Clara St light, and residents are subjected to more noise, pollution and dirt.

    • “This St John closure was pushed through with no neighborhood input.”

      In fact the city held several well-advertised public meetings regarding the East Saint John Street bicycle boulevard, as it calls it. I had city employees knocking on my door and I got mailings. AFAIK so did everyone in my neighborhood. Anyone who claims not to have gotten advance word must not have been reading their postal mail.

      “. . . taking 1/3 of 10th and 11th Streets 8 years ago now results in 4-6 bicycle riders/hour during rush hours.”

      I doubt it’s anywhere near that few. Perhaps the city has done a survey and can share its statistics.

      I can say cyclists are common on East Saint John Street, as are e-scooter users. That street has become much more pleasant since the city installed the detour at Tenth Street. It’s a residential street, but the rush-hour traffic that used to clog it and should instead be on Santa Clara Street made life unpleasant between 4 and 6:30 p.m. every workday.

  9. I love how it’s always the car’s fault! Every day I see bicyclists run stop signs and red lights, right into the paths of oncoming cars. Riding on sidewalks where pedestrians have to jump out of the way. Or moron bicyclists too busy patting themselves on the back while riding because they think they’re doing something good for the environment. Get over yourselves. There are useless green bike lanes that no bicyclist cares about. From what I’ve read, Sammy was not doing what he was supposed to be doing even though the driver was sited.

  10. “Bike lanes” are NOT about transportation; they’re about politics.

    Bike lane politics is just a textbook example of how a tiny focused and coordinated minority can impose their will on an open minded, tolerant, accommodating but distracted majority. The notion of “democracy” — which in concept is “rule of the majority” — is a sham.

    “Democracy” probably works in a coherent, culturally and ethically unified society, but in a modern, fragmented, incoherent, hodgepodge of divisive “identity politics”, democracy just collapses into endless tribal warfare.

    The goal of modern identity politics based electoral democracy is NOT wise public policy, it is demonstrating the “power: of your tribe to force other tribes to submit to your “tribal will”.

    The “bike lane tribe” FORCED the majority of San Jose residents to acknowledge their “power” and submit to their will.

    “Yeah, there are damn few bike riders to use the stupid bike lanes, BUT WE MADE YOU ACCEPT THE G. D. BIKE LINES, SUCKERS!”

    Somewhere, their is a conscienceless, money grubbing political consultant, who pulled the levers, pushed the buttons, and collected a big fee to make bike lanes happen.

    Warning to all: that political consultant is still on the loose and pitching his next political war plan to some tribal war lord craving power and glory.

    • OSTB, You should no by now we only live in a democracy when the Democrats are the majority. When they are not the majority, we live in a trible republic controlled by a tyrannical majority!

  11. I live in South SJ, and the nearby, moderately busy four lane road was recently reduced to a 2 late road to make way for a green bike lane. They also narrowed the lanes by widening the center island. In my 15 years of living off of this road, I have seen less than a dozen bicyclists. That’s right. Less than a dozen in 15 years. Now however, we have more congested streets for the cars trying to navigate the single narrowed lane in each direction, while the green bike lane sits glaringly unused and empty. Nice to see my tax dollars at work on such a “useful” project. Sadly, I see the majority of bicyclists in our neighborhood riding on the SIDEWALK. That’s fine for kids, but the silty grownups in their spandex shorts and thousand dollars racing bikes wizzing by my elderly neighbors who are trying to go for a walk is just too much.

  12. Wow, what’s wrong with the commenters here? Why the hatred of bicyclists? Why the blindness to all the speeding, running red lights, distracted driving by car drivers? Many thousands of people are injured or killed by vehicle drivers in the US every year and almost none by bicyclists. It’s past time to get over your entitlement – CO2 belching 3000 lb steel cages do not own the roads.

    • > Many thousands of people are injured or killed by vehicle drivers in the US every year and almost none by bicyclists.

      “The problem with ignorance is: you don’t know you’ve got it.”

      How do you know that “almost none” are injured or killed on or by bicycles?

      NO ONE KNOWS! IT’S A STATE SECRET!

      Just try to get San Jose to produce comprehensive, meaningful data on bicycle and bike lane safety.

      It’s easier to get nuclear weapons secrets from the North Koreans.

    • Have you ever seen a bicyclist ticketed for running a stop sign or stop light? I don’t hate bicyclists. I hate that they are condescending and elitist. Let bike riders follow the rules of the road. If they did, there’d be far less need for protected lanes, and far fewer injured bikers.

    • Uncle ROBOT says:

      “Wow, what’s wrong with the commenters here? …It’s past time to get over your entitlement…” &etc.

      That’s just projection: It’s bicyclists who are acting all entitled, because the roads and streets were made for motor vehicles. If not for them, you’d still be peddling around on dirt paths. And if they could, based on the way they ride, bicyclists would be speeding way more than drivers.

      Over the years motorists have graciously put up with pedal pushers on the roads and streets built for motor vehicles, but since the peddlers got all political and started hating on drivers, now they’re acting like they’re entitled.

      Give ’em an inch, and they take a mile; they’re no longer content to just share the roads, now they’re demanding half the city streets that an occasional bicycle commuter uses when it’s not raining or too cold.

      But even after taking half the streets away from drivers, peddlers can still use all the streets — dodging cars, ignoring stop signs, and generally dissing any other rules of the road they don’t like.

      Isn’t taking over half the traffic lanes enough for you? What more do you want, all of them? You wrote that it’s time for drivers to “get over” our entitlement??

      Can you say G-R-E-E-D-Y? I knew you could!

      Your last comment is bluster:

      “Many thousands of people are injured or killed by vehicle drivers in the US every year and almost none by bicyclists.”

      Whenever there’s a collision between a thirty pound bicycle and a 3,000 pound car, the end result has nothing to do with who was at fault.

      You may now return to the bogus ‘safety’ issue — the claim we’re supposed to accept based on assertions and nothing more… because if you folks had accident statistics showing that bicycle lanes are safer, you’d be waving them under everyone’s nose. So baseless assertions are all you’ve got, amiright?

      Another commenter who blames cars wrote:

      “If one persons life is saved due to… lane reduction, then it has been worth it.”

      That comment always sounds nice, but it’s an emo-argument. Ask any insurance agent or lawyer; they put a dollar value on human life every day.

      The bicycle contingent constantly emits baseless “safety” assertions to support the über-expensive bicycle lanes, but drivers suspect the lanes don’t make much difference in safety.

      So enough with the safety talk, unless you can support it with statistics. It’s probably a canard, anyway.

      If the bicycle crowd has provable numbers to support their safety assertions, then produce them. In other words, put up or shut up. Otherwise, it’s just talking the talk.

      Show us you can walk the talk… produce verifiable statistics for once.

  13. Narrowing streets and securing bike lanes is a great idea. The neighborhood road in front of my house is the size of a highway that seemingly allows speeds of 50mph. It is not safe and the speed and noise from racing cars is dangerous and disrupting. We need to add trees and reduce visibility to make cars slow down. This has been done in Europe with a lot of success. You only drive slow on a street that makes you drive slow. More signs don’t help.
    Once streets are safe cyclists will start to use them.

    • That is exactly what they said 8 years ago when they took 1/3 of 10th and 11th St and 1/2 of many others for bicycles.

      Let’s look at what we got from that…for example, 10th St, from Hedding – I 280 is 4 miles x 10ft. 4.8 acres of valuable public land in the heart of the city. An identical lane on 11th for those wishing to go north. Nearly 10 acres of land that is utilized by (maybe) a hundred riders/day for a corridor that houses hundreds of homes and a university. Those same two lanes would routinely carry thousands/day by car. On the other hand, in this example, one can simply ride to 9th St or 12th St and have a thoroughly safe and quiet journey that cost nothing and inconvenienced nobody. Meanwhile, the environmental costs of cars now struck in longer backups escalates, as they plant the high density housing, in addition to the wasted productivity.

      Last night I drove 5.2 miles on Hedding/Berryessa at 5pm. I did not see even ONE bicycle the entire route. 5.2 miles -zero bicycles. I have been wondering if the City Council has ever asked about RESULTS? At what point will we stop throwing money, resources and real estate at something to which people are clearly not responding? Is there a deadline or any sort of set goals here? We need goals and we need specific numbers, not some mumbo jumbo about “if only it was safer” – while offering no proof that there is a safety problem within the existing network.

      A more balanced approach might (for example) spend money on cutting down wasted fuel and time at traffic lights that have no brains. Imagine living in the tech capitol of the world and this is not even a thought, forcing 30-40 cars who just accelerated from one light, to stop 500 feet later for one left-turner – all day long (but they have the money to install and monitor cameras at every corner). This is nothing but lack of sensible leadership.

      • M Ham,

        Correctomundo, compadre. On the surface, none of this op-ed makes sense.

        But under the surface, the Plan to turn our traffic lanes into bicycle lanes was developed in semi-secret by a tiny minority. They claim the public was informed via a newspaper notice in 2009, but they don’t show the notice, or say where it appeared.

        They say their Plan was discussed in bicycle clubs. Isn’t that like a pastor preaching to the choir? Since 2009 the public has received scant information, but the Plan to take half the traffic lanes away from drivers keeps pedaling along.

        That isn’t keeping the public informed; it was only done for ‘credible deniability,’ in case someone asks them if the public was told about their Plan to turn over half our city streets to the 1.2% who commute by bicycle.

        And how was that 1.2% number arrived at? Based on observation, that number is exaggerated, since anyone who looks can see that there are fewer than one or two bicyclists for every few hundred cars — and cars can carry extra passengers.

        This Plan was approved and set in motion despite the fact that it inconveniences almost everyone. In addition to drivers, local neighbors are subjected to these “road diets”. The added congestion causes more pollution from vehicles forced to idle in the only available lane, and bicycle lanes cost up to $28 million per mile. That’s money that should be used on worthwhile projects, instead of converting our existing traffic lanes into unproductive and unused bicycle lanes.

        For just one example, half the traffic lanes on Hedding have been handed over to practically non-existent bicycle riders for their exclusive use; no cars allowed. Now those imaginary bicycle riders have priority over the other 98.8% of the population that prefers to drive. That kind of special treatment sounds like the old Politburo lording it over the proles.

        In this country the minority is protected, and the majority makes the rules. At least that’s what we were always taught. And up until recently, that’s how it always worked.

        But now ‘the tail wags the dog’, and the majority isn’t even protected. Just 1.2% of the population made these rules, and now everyone else has to suck it up. Why is that OK, Mr. Mayor? Do you represent only 1.2% of the city’s residents? Or all of us?

        (Based on observation, it looks like the peddler contingent isn’t even 1.2%, it’s more like 0.12% of commuters. The other 99.88% are drivers. So that 1.2% number looks bogus, especially because no supporting data and methodology was disclosed.)

        The information necessary to make this decision was never made public. Where are the safety statistics, both before and after bike lanes were installed? That’s a secret. And it appears that the lane the Mayor was riding in was a likely contributing factor. “Lane swapping” is explained here:

        http://sanjoseca.gov/betterbikeways

        Bicyclists using the new lanes are hidden behind rows of parked cars. That’s far less safe than before the ‘lane swap’, when they were more visible.

        There was no real public input to this Plan when it was approved back in 2009. Now it’s 2019, and the bicyclist Plan is being implemented with the excuse that ‘We gave the public an opportunity to give input.’

        Can we have a show of hands? How many readers here saw that 2009 newspaper notice? Did anyone see it? Was there any specific language regarding what’s happening now? Was the public told that the Plan would eliminate traffic lanes on most of our city streets? Or was the notice the usual vague pablum, intended to obfuscate the real intention?

        Finally, the writer states that the Mayor’s accident “was no accident.”

        Really? Then what was it?

        It was an accident; accidents happen. The op-ed writer doesn’t exhibit much more sense anywhere else in the article, including his strange sofa analogy. For example, he writes:

        “…imagine this: a transportation system in which folks arrive at their destination with a smile, a system that doesn’t create stress, frustration, fear, obesity, or air pollution.”

        The writer’s bicycle utopia is a fantasy. Reality is displayed in the real world dystopia of San Francisco, where crowds of bicycle riders regularly take over the city streets.

        Anyonme can read the accounts of San Francisco bicyclists hitting the streets by the thousands in their weekend bicycle raves, and acting in general like angry scofflaws. Observing the hostility of those anti-social peddlers assaulting the drivers, it’s hard to believe that large crowds of bicyclists is ever a good thing. Maybe on rural bike paths, but not in cities, on streets made for drivers.

        San Francisco’s bike-a-thon crowds routinely display animosity, hostility, and anger. They’re hostile toward drivers, often pummeling their cars for drivers’ perceived infractions, or even looks. That kind of hatred and anger is encouraged by the knowledge that they can and do get away with it.

        And every day drivers here can observe bicycle riders on sidewalks, rolling past stop signs, dodging in and out of traffic, and in general ignoring the rules of the road. When there are thousands of them, that behavior quickly gets out of hand.

        Not all bicyclists are scofflaws of course, but as usual, the radical ones are the kind that always stir up the rest – and they always avoid any fair, moderated, public debates.

        The arguments in this Op-Ed are just self-serving assertions. There is no verifiable data to support the arguments, especially regarding safety.

        This is just a series of excuses for what the bicycle crowd is still doing: conniving in secret to take away traffic lanes from drivers, who have been made the ‘enemy’ based on a bogus “safety” issue.

        I challenge the Op-Ed writer to produce verifiable statistics showing all accidents occurring between a motor vehicle and a bicycle rider, for the same number of years before and after bicycle lanes have been in existence. Then we can debate whether the immense cost of bicycle lanes is warranted.

        I suspect there won’t be much difference in accidents, if any.

    • Great idea stein, lets try planting trees in the streets then driver could use the highway for autocross.
      Zig-zag-zoom-zoom. People that break speed laws just love a new challenge just like bicyclist.
      Reduce visibility, great then we can make the city liable for creating a safety hazarded the one thing you can do to keep the roads safe is to increase visibility.

    • I totally agree with you Martin, adding more car lanes is not the solution. If one persons life is saved due to reducing the speed to a safer amount due to lane reduction, then it has been worth it. As well as making it safer for cyclists we need a better public transport system, and better city planning. The reduction in car lanes and an increase in cycle lanes is a step closer to that goal. Many people I have spoken to have said that they would cycle if is was safer, so hopefully as it gradually gets safer for bikes you will see more cyclists. I already see many more cyclists on the Guadalupe trail in San Jose than I used to a few years ago. I drive regularly to work, I have little choice, I am stuck on a solid freeway for hours (no bike lanes there!). I have also commute by bike when I can. This morning it took me 1 1/2 hours to get to Mountain View from San Jose, it would actually have been quicker to cycle!!! Cycling is not the only option, but we do need to reduce our dependance on the car. When I am driving and stuck in traffic and I see a cyclist go past me, my thoughts are, other than feeling that I should not have driven my car today, is that cyclist in the bike lane is one less car driver that I am stuck behind.

  14. Here are two reasons to encourage bicycle ownership and use:

    1. There’s a sensational article in today’s Wall Street Journal claiming that Russian hackers have wormed their way far into North America’s electricity infrastructure, using small companies in small towns in Oregon and Washington to infiltrate them. It sounds like the Russians can turn off North America’s electricity in a major confrontation. In the unlikely event that happens, your bicycle will still work. Same if someone detonates a nuclear bomb 25 miles above Nebraska. The continent-wide electromagnetic pulse will render your car undriveable unless it’s very old. Your bicycle will still work.

    2. What’s certain to happen is a major earthquake. While panicked car drivers fleeing the ensuing fires are blocked by fallen overpasses, massive traffic jams, and urban unrest, you’ll be able to get on your mountain bike, ride over the rubble, ride around any fires, avoid any riots, climb over the fallen overpasses, and escape via little-used and usually gated dirt roads that connect the south bay to the San Joaquín Valley. You will survive; the car-bound may not be so lucky.

  15. Jeeeeeeesus these comments. Y’all are a bunch of snowflakes whining about people riding bikes.

    Anybody who thinks bike lanes are a perverse example of a small minority imposing their will and intereste in the majority need to learn the history of streets, automobiles, and the AAA in the earli 20th century, when that minority of users stole the streets from the rest of users (pedestrians, light rail, cyclists, etc).

    The only valuable criticism in all of these comments is the concern re accessibility, and how bike lanes can conflict with loading zones.

    The idiot who brought up “sanctuary cities” is pretty much a great example capturing that the rest of you all are are just paranoid, from, shortsighted assholes with little understanding of risk. You somehow imagine that any social benefit flowing to anybody other than yourselves must have been personally stolen from you by some evil political conspiracy run by “others.”

    Nobody’s taking away your cars, your guns, your jobs, your whatever. There’s room in society for us to support people making other choices. And in the case of somebody else choosing to use bikes as their mode of transit, that choice happens to have fewer costs and more benefits for everyone, including you, even if you’re choosing to use a car.

  16. > Another thing I’ve noticed is that it’s often faster to do errands by bike.

    Errands? Whose errands?

    Why of course! YOUR errands. It’s all about YOUR convenience.

    Take over 50 percent of the roadways so YOU can do YOUR errands faster.

    This is the type of self-referential elitist arrogance that pisses people off.

    And this is exactly the reason that the YELLOW VESTS are saying “Enough is enough” in France.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/14/france-macron-launches-national-debate-amid-yellow-vest-protests.html

    The Yellow Vests started off protesting the oppressive taxes on energy resulting from the UNITED NATIONS bogus campaign against “climate change”.

    The “Road Diets” and “Bike Lanes” were also UNITED NATIONS projects to “get people out of their cars” to “fight climate change” yadda yadda yadda.

    European energy taxes and San Jose bike lines are imposed by the same arrogant globalist elites who want to suppress all local self-determination and local government.

    The YELLOW VEST protesters in France have hit on an effective means of pushing back against the elites.

    I am ordering my own yellow vest, and I invite others who are sick of ‘road diets” and “bike lanes” to do the same.

    The next time you find yourself in your car in road diet hell, park your car, don your yellow vest, and waddle to your destination down the center of your neighborhood bike lane. Be sure NOT to leave enough space on either side to allow any bicyclists to pass.. If there are two of you or more, walk side by side.

    Encourage your friends and neighbors to participate. YELLOW VESTS can clog the bike lanes as effectively as bike riders can clog the car lanes.

    And if a bike rider clangs his bell at you to get out of HIS way, blast his stupid bell with pepper spray.

    YELLOW VESTS beat spandex shorts.

  17. Hmmmm. It appears that there is some serious push back in Los Angeles against bike lanes:

    https://bikinginla.com/2018/10/03/morning-links-las-first-people-protected-bike-lane-protests-mayor-eric-garcettis-ineffective-vision-zero/

    “Morning Links: LA’s first people protected bike lane protests Mayor Eric Garcetti’s ineffective Vision Zero”

    . . .

    “Or the cancellation of nearly every planned road diet project by frightened councilmembers, after LA Mayor Eric Garcetti pulled the rug out from under Westside Councilmember Mike Bonin by ordering the removal of the bike lanes and road diets he was fighting to protect in Playa del Rey.”

    ——————————————–
    Health tip: San Jose bike lanes are a perfect place for a leisurely stroll while wearing your yellow vest.

    • You’re right: there are few bike lanes in greater Los Angeles. Which means:

      — It’s scary to ride a bike there; so.
      — Fewer people are riding bikes than would; yet
      — Traffic is unbelievably horrendous anyway.

      • Indeed, if Los Angeles banned auto traffic during rush hours and made every able-bodied person ride a bike or an e-scooter, I bet people would get to work more quickly than they do now, and be happier in the process. For the disabled, the city could roll out a fleet of those airport-style electric golf carts. Deliveries could start at 10 a.m. and would have to wrap by by 3:30 p.m., resuming after 7:30 and allowed overnight.

        • I meant “wrap up by . . .” As for auto traffic, it would also operate from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and after 7:30 p.m., emergency vehicles excepted. Just think: clear roadways, healthier people, billions of dollars saved annually, and amazingly clean air! Los Angeles could be Nirvana!

          • > Just think: clear roadways, healthier people, billions of dollars saved annually, and amazingly clean air! Los Angeles could be Nirvana!

            Bad news, LOURENÇO:

            I’m not sold.

            You need to offer me MORE!

          • @SAN JOSE OUTSIDE THE BUBBLE

            Glad to! An 80% drop in obesity! An 80% drop in Type 2 diabetes!

            Let me know if I need to keep working on the likely benefits!

    • Enough. If you are so upset about the bikes get involved instead of sounding like high schoolers on Twitter.

  18. Smokey is right, here.

    The Vision Zero plan was started by a small group at the UN and is being imposed on every developed country.

    The local citizens have no say in it.

    The Willow Glen community voted no on reducing lanes, it was done by Vision Zero people anyway.

    Part of Agenda 21.

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