Councilman Liccardo Fights for Your Right … To Walk on Sidewalks

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.

More from the San Jose Rules and Open Government Committee agenda for March 13, 2013:

• 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

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. And here’s another reason to get off the sidewalk, cyclists: Police and councilmember(s) think you might be a thieving drug dealer

    Jennifer are you really that naive to make such an inflammatory statement. Maybe the council members profile people but the police certainly will not participate in their illegal activities. Hey Ive got an idea, Why dont we have the people who will be sitting at the sidewalk cafes patrol with their eyes. Didnt Liccardo suggest that this would cut down on crime? This city gets whackier by the day! Arrogance and cluelessness are the name of the game in SJ!

  2. Maybe people are afraid to walk on the sidewalks because of the INCREASE IN VIOLENT CRIMES , Or DECREASE IN PUBLIC SAFETY !!!! Once again Sammy is focused on the wrong things!!! The people of San Jose have been complaining of the Incompetence at City Hall , why doesnt Sammy ,constant,PLO , Maddie, Reed Deal with that and watch everything else fall into place

  3. Q:Hey, adult male!, Why you riding your bike on el sidewalk?
    A: Me sorry amigo. Me no peaky. Me worky.

    Q: Hey, adult male! Why you selling weed, crack, ecstasy, and crystal right here on the corner of 2nd Street and Santa Clara?
    A: oh, is that illegal? I don’t see no sign on the street that says so! Put up a sign man if you expect me to know that!

    Q: Excuse me bicycle scofflaw, as a concerned downtown resident who’s afraid to confront anyone without a policeman behind me, aren’t you ashamed that you’re breaking the new rules?
    A: Shame?? That’s funny.. You got jokes. What do I care about what you highly entitled people think? You should be ashamed you still live down here.

    Q: Hey Officer! Yes, I am the Independent Police Auditor. Isn’t it true officer that you profiled my client as a drug dealer simply for riding his bike to work in downtown San Jose?
    A: Me sorry Cladoris, me no peaky, me worky…..somewhere else soon!

  4. It should be city-wide and not just downtown.

    It’s the speed that creates a problem when bicycles are ridden the wrong way or are ridden on sidewalks.

    If someone causes and accident by riding on the sidewalk, they’ll be liable.

  5. Licardo states “…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.”

    PLO are you nuts???? When one of these cyclist decides to stop and pummel an “embolden pedestrian” who is going to get called…the police??? Will there be any left to respond or will this crime not fit high enough on the priority list to even garner a response?

    Just a disgusted citizen who feels the city leaders are out of touch with the reality they have created.

  6. A bit off topic, but the three way relationship among cars, bicycles, and pedestrians needs to be one of mutual acknowledgement and respect in ALL situations.
    Having yesterday witnessed on San Tomas the aftermath of the fatal running down of a bicyclist by a car, the sorrow I feel for the victim and his people is nearly matched by the anguish I feel for the person who hit him and her family.
    Let’s all slow down a bit and drop the attitude.

  7. Hey Sam, you dolt, cycling on the sidewalk is ALREADY illegal – a violation of the California Vehicle Code. Too bad there aren’t enough officers to enforce this and about a bazillion other quality of life issues which used to be enforced more regularly once upon a time. And, after all, aren’t emboldened pedestrians nagging cyclists a short step away from vehicle code vigilantes?

    Really, I knew you’d taken leave of your senses a long time ago when you were pimping the idea of more low income housing while San Jose suffered budget deficits, but this is a whole new low. Don’t you have other better things to do with your time? Honestly, at this point, I’d pay you NOT to show up to council meetings or vote.

  8. I wonder if this is related to the flyers I found at a taqueria across the street from city hall.  On the front it says “Friendly Neighbors – Bringing San Jose Together” and on the back are three bullet points, all asking bicyclists to be courteous to seniors.  I thought it was somewhat bizarre how specific the flyer was, especially since the front was so generic.  Seems like Sammy’s paying lip service to some group on his butt about this.

    Anyways, the idea that cops could use this law to stop “suspicious” characters is unconstitutional.  These kinds of stops are a common conduit for racial profiling. 

    It’s already illegal to ride on the sidewalk, and police already don’t enforce the law.  Seems like a waste of time to pass another law, and the whole part about expecting pedestrians to pester bike riders into compliance has got to be a joke.

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