San Jose completes Hedding Street transformation

West Hedding after restriping. Bike lanes for all.


There are now bike lanes the entire length of Hedding Street in San Jose, East and West. That’s good news for the handful of cyclists that use the road, not so good for motorists. At least that’s the sentiment on the Next Door website, Santa Clara neighborhood.

On my ride today, I noticed a few more stripes need to be added between Coleman Avenue and Winchester Boulevard, but that’s about it. Hedding has been squeezed down to one lane each direction, with a center turn lane.

Santa Clara resident motorists can breathe easy. There is no plan to do the same to Pruneridge Avenue, which links up with Hedding at Winchester. Santa Clara’s road diet effort on Pruneridge between Pomeroy and Tantau was not well received, although I’m not aware of any plans to return that stretch to two lanes each direction.

I rode Hedding both directions on my way to the always enjoyable Alum Rock Park. I saw a total of five bikes on Hedding, although it was between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. when there is little traffic to speak of — cars and bikes.

The spirited discussion on Next Door leaned heavily toward the motorist’s viewpoint, which makes sense. Most people drive cars, not ride bikes. I can appreciate where they’re coming from. They perceive the change as anti-car, reducing lanes and increasing congestion.

The same reaction happened on East Hedding when the road diet went into effect several years ago. That debate boiled over on the pages of the San Mercury News, Roadshow column. Over time people quit complaining and moved on, finding a different route to work or putting up with the hassle. The problem with finding a different route these days is that ALL roads are congested at rush hour, including side streets.

Riding on Hedding you get a look at life in Silicon Valley, up close and personal. The good and the bad. I rode past houses bordering the Rose Garden, an enclave of wealth and privilege where multi-million dollar homes are the rule. As I continued east, the scenery changed from tree-lined streets and stately homes to industrial and lower/middle class housing. A homeless man talked to himself as he sat on the sidewalk outside the Santa Clara County Clerk Recorder’s Office.

Farther along, a deranged elderly man struggled in his wheelchair against the efforts of his homeless friends trying to help him.

I wondered what kind of clientele would frequent a newly furbished hotel at the corner of Hedding and 13th Street. I wish them well.

Hardscrabble would be the operative word in this neighborhood, where people scrape out a living making minimum wage. The depths of despair came into view as I turned the corner onto Mabury Road, the detritus of a homeless encampment scattered about. The fence has been repaired, but for how long?

I continued through more industrial hodgepodge, riding next to the busy Hwy 101, and then turned left, crossing over the now placid Coyote Creek. The new Berryessa BART station stands empty, ready to open next year, many hope. I wonder what traffic will be like when it opens, when Apple HQ opens, when more and more new businesses near Hedding kick into gear?

Finally, I entered a place of refuge in the Valley — Alum Rock Park. As I stopped for water I noticed a sign plastered on the wall. Due to budget cutbacks, San Jose has to reduce maintenance. At least they’re not closing the park.

I rode on and passed the concrete abutments of a past achievement in public transportation — an efficient, practical light rail that was the pride of Santa Clara Valley in the late 1800s. Of course, it was ripped out along with all the other light rail when Detroit took over.

Looking back on the ride, two areas of improvement hit home: the 880 underpass and the railroad overpass near Coleman. I never enjoyed riding there as traffic zoomed by at 45 mph or more. The bike lanes did wonders.

I don’t know what will become of our car-centric world, but there’s no doubt in my mind it’s unsustainable. I’m not saying bikes are the answer. I’m not sure there is an answer. Maybe the autonomous car will be our savior, but I’m not betting on it.

In the meantime, just like the patrons of our public golf courses, I’ll be one of the few making the most of the bike lanes while they’re still here.

Traffic in a Manila suburb. And we’re complaining?

4 Responses to “San Jose completes Hedding Street transformation”

  1. Smokey Says:

    Hi Rp,

    Thanks for a good and balanced article.

  2. dbstealey Says:

    Hi Rp,

    Thanks for a good and balanced article.

  3. Martin Says:

    Happened to choose Pruneridge to Hedding on the way back from getting my flu shot at Kaiser (Homestead) yesterday, and much appreciated the bike lanes, ESPECIALLY (as you said) under 880. It made that previously disconcerting segment a lot more relaxed.

  4. Tong Says:

    Excellent points. I move into the Berryessa neighborhood about a year ago. We have limited options trying to get into DTSJ, across the industrial areas, or across SJC airport. Hedding is one of these options, the other is Commercial Rd. I sometimes ride to work in DTMV (and Palo Alto previously). Bike lanes on Hedding are great but it’s really not a pleasant riding experience between Lundy/King and the Guadalupe River. Too much dust by the steel/recycling center near Commercial Rd and debris in general. Plus, the road diet means that a lot of cars are trying to squeeze by. I don’t know what the answer is, either. We cannot undo the damage by Big Auto decades ago and build rail where there are now houses. The BART does nothing for folks needing to go up the Peninsula, and public transportation linking NESJ to Diridon is non-existent. Sometimes I bike the <2 miles to Civic Center VTA and take that slow light rail for nearly an hour into DTMV. I have timed myself: bike alone vs. bike+VTA, and bike alone is always faster, though not by more than a couple minutes. I think the answer is to develop walkable communities within our already-sprawled Bay Area. The planned development near Berryessa BART/the flea market seems promising, but it does nothing for me and my neighbors who live there but work up the Peninsula.

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