Bike Lanes or Oil Refineries: What’ll it be?

Hedding Street just beyond First heading west. A bike lane on Hedding would be a good thing.

I for one am a big supporter of San Jose’s city government and the actions it’s taking to plan the city’s future. Bicycles are front and center in the transportation plan, which you can read about in the San Jose Bike Plan 2020 – all 20 megabytes.

One small step to a sustainable transportation future calls for bike lanes crisscrossing the city. By sustainable, I mean fewer oil refineries and I think we can all agree we don’t want one of those in our back yard! A little white paint for a bike lane doesn’t sound so bad.

Bike lanes are nothing more than white stripes on the side of the road. However, they can include parking restrictions and that’s the sticking point with a few residents on Hedding Street where a bike lane is planned.

Some 20 street parking spaces in a four-block stretch could be eliminated as the street is reconfigured from four lanes to two, with a center turn lane.

I rode Hedding today going southwest from First Street, not to check it out, but because it’s a route I often take when returning from a ride to the Mt. Hamilton summit. Hedding is a wide boulevard with not much traffic and that’s why I like it. I wrote about crossing Santa Clara Valley east to west in a previous column. Today I prefer Hedding (right on First Street) over Taylor.

As far as I’m concerned the residents can keep their street parking, but let’s stripe the bike lanes. This street should have had bike lanes long ago. As for going from four lanes to three, I’ve seen it done on a short stretch of Pruneridge Avenue and I have no complaints both as a motorist and a cyclist.

As I read the Mercury News editorial column and the Hedding Street hullabaloo, it’s pretty clear that the bicycle remains the whipping boy of transportation. It’s nothing new. Even when bicycles became the king of the road around 1895, we had to fight for our rights.

Whether or not people will take up cycling on safer roads remains to be seen. Sadly, many people stigmatize cycling as degrading, especially for getting around town or commuting. Cycling is the most efficient means of transportation. It’s good for your health and it’s good for planet Earth. Everyone may not agree, but what’ll it be: more bike lanes or more oil refineries?

Ride bike.

Mabury Road approaching King Road in San Jose. Nice street design. Everyone is happy.

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