Hedding Street bike lanes a symptom of class warfare

Hedding Street bike lanes are a symptom of class warfare. I think they're just fine.

Hedding Street bike lanes are a symptom of class warfare. I think they’re just fine.

As I checked out Hedding Street bike lanes today to see what all the fuss is about, I reflected on a recent editorial by Jordan Michael Smith for the Boston Globe called
“Conservatives’ new enemy: Bikes”. I’d throw in more than a few so-called liberals as well.

Smith’s article is a must read for anyone who cares about bikes because he raises issues that go well beyond Hedding’s seemingly harmless bike lanes and a dash of green paint. Some Americans don’t like having their roads taken over, even if it is for a greater good. They see anything that disrupts their commute as downright evil.

Smith puts disgraced Toronto Mayor Robert Ford front and center as someone capitalizing on hatred of cyclists. That’s how an admitted crack cocaine user got elected mayor. He had support from commuters living in the suburbs. Ford doesn’t restrict his hatred to bikes. He also thinks public transit’s light rail is a “pain in the ass.”

Bikes have been hated by a vocal segment of the public ever since they became popular in the late 1800s. It’s a good thing the Wright brothers didn’t let that get in the way of their inventing air travel, using bike parts.

The battle is happening here: On Sunday, Gary Richards, Mr. Roadshow, of the San Jose Mercury news issued the top 10 hot spots for Bay Area commuters and Hedding Street bike lanes made the bad list at number five.

But back to Hedding Street and those hated bike lanes. They go from Guadalupe River to Hwy 101. The rub is that a lane of traffic had to be removed both directions and in place a turn lane was added. I think center turn lanes are safer, although when two cars going opposite directions want to turn left at the same location, it’s not so good. What bothers me about two-lane roads is when a car turns left and has to wait. Traffic stacks up and anyone stuck behind the turning car knows how dangerous pulling into the right lane can be.

I don’t ride on Hedding daily, so I’m not one to comment on the problems it has created for commuters. I have to believe what they tell the Mercury News though. It stinks.

In a year the San Jose City Council will revisit the Hedding bike lanes. Maybe by then commuters will have found better ways to get to work.

Hedding offers a convenient east-west corridor for bicycle traffic. The decision to choose Hedding for a bike corridor was not haphazard. I use it whenever I ride through San Jose, along with Taylor Street. While I can live with or without bike lanes, in the scheme of things they’re a minor annoyance for even the most ardent car commuter.

Not everyone has a fancy job and can afford to drive a fancy car. There are those whose only transportation is by bike or bus or light rail. They’re that class of people who do the dirty work that nobody else wants to do. Or they’re starving students. No, they don’t fill our city streets, but they’re out there using those bike lanes. Let’s give them a break.

3 Responses to “Hedding Street bike lanes a symptom of class warfare”

  1. ladyfleur Says:

    “I have to believe what they tell the Mercury News though. It stinks” You really should ride Hedding before believing Mr Roadshow, who rarely takes transit and never bike commutes.

    I’ve ridden the full length of the Hedding bike lanes from the Guadalupe River Trail to 17th street a half dozen times between 5-5:30pm and another handful between 8:15 and 8:30. It’s slow moving for the cars but not gridlock.The problem is that previously drivers could zip through a largely residential street at 40mph and now they are doing 25-30mph.

    Hedding was so crappy before I would have rather ridden El Camino in Mountain View.

    It’s now taking the courthouse workers an extra few minutes to get to home (in part because they all get out at the same time). They don’t see why they should waste time to make things safer for people who walk, bike or live on Hedding.

    • Ray Hosler Says:

      Of course the comments were from motorists who have seen Hedding before and after. Gary maintains his journalistic integrity at all times. He doesn’t ride a bike, but few do. I rode the length of Hedding in question a few weeks ago. It’s nice, but there are only a handful of streets that are seriously bike unfriendly, such as Alma Street in Palo Alto.

  2. Richard Masoner Says:

    @Ray, you’re right that the bike lanes are a symptom of class warfare. But Hedding isn’t a bike lane project — it’s a 4-3 lane reduction that was done specifically to calm traffic and it’s working exactly as intended.

    The study material produced as part of the very public process leading up to this project even predicts the reduction in LOS at 10th & 11th Streets. The project was done for the benefit of people who live along Hedding Street and 11th Street with improved livability for residents and improved safety for the kids who attend Burnett Middle and cross Hedding twice every day.

    The only “stink” are people like Dave Cortese who have to actually drive the speed limit (OMG!) because they can’t use that extra lane to pass the slow pokes.

    I wrote perhaps a little more forefully along these lines about Hedding in 2012


    The bike lanes (green or otherwise) are just a side benefit, a way to use all of that extra space.

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