San Jose, California

San José, California, plans to add some 70 miles of bikeways and to be a top-tier bike-friendly city. 

In April 2015, under the leadership of then city manager Norberto Dueñas, San José, California (pop. 1.03 million) announced that efforts were underway to make San José a bike-friendly city. Those efforts included the addition of new bikeways, pavement maintenance updates, innovative street design elements, bike parking, bike-friendly code and policy updates, and partnership programs that encourage everyday use of the bicycle.

Improvements were announced in a report supporting goals put forth in Bike Plan 2020, the city’s 10-year plan for being among the best cities for people who bike—that is, where bicycling is safe, convenient, and an integral part of daily life. With a goal of 5 percent of all trips by bicycle by the year 2020, the plan lays out a 500-mile bikeway network that includes a high standard of design and provides safe and efficient travel for bicyclists of all ages and abilities.

With more than 30,000 daily bike trips on some 240 miles of on-street bikeways, San José complements this by offering ongoing children’s walking and biking safety training in schools to ensure all have access to key safety training and can help transition commuters from cars to bikes.

According to Paul Smith, deputy director, planning and project delivery, San José Department of Transportation, the aggressive rate of bikeways development is a testament to the city’s commitment to offer the community a variety of transportation options. “Over the past six years, San José added 40 miles of bikeways. In the next 18 months, 70-plus more miles will be developed. This is key both in enhancing the existing bike network off and on city streets, and in making San José more accessible whether on foot, by transit, or on a bicycle,” said Smith.

In addition to enhancing San José’s bike infrastructure, Bike Plan 2020 established the goal that five percent of all trips in San José be by bicycle. According to the report at the time, one percent of trips in downtown San José are by bicycle while four percent of trips are by bicycle .

San José’s efforts to be bike-friendly complement the city’s and Silicon Valley’s long history of cycling. That history includes production of the first mechanically pedaled bicycle in North America, which was created in the 1800s, and one of the first bicycling clubs in the United States, the Garden City Wheelmen, formed in 1884. In addition, the Hellyer Park Velodrome is currently the only velodrome—an arena for track cycling—in Northern California, and it is one of 19 in the U.S.

Click here for information on San José bikeways projects or view the San José Bike Plan 2020 document in PDF format.

**A similar version of this Life, Well Run success story originally appeared in the August 2015 issue of ICMA’s PM Public Management magazine.