SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — The city of San Jose has embarked on an ambitious plan to make its downtown more bicyclist-friendly by installing more than 10 miles of protected bike lanes.
While the new lanes have been embraced by cyclists, there is growing concern they’ve made those shared roads less safe for drivers and pedestrians.
“You have to be very cautious, because there’s basically not enough room. And if you open your door too wide, passing cars can definitely hit you. So, I feel it’s less safe,” said driver Dina Ruiz.
With the new dedicated bike lanes, drivers no longer park their cars along the curb. Instead, parked cars are shifted out into the street, creating a protected lane of traffic only for bicyclists.
“It’s much better than it used to be. Having a separated, protected bike lane, really makes it more comfortable for me and other cyclists,” said cyclist Eugene Cordero.
The tradeoff is that bicyclists are protected while people getting in and out of their cars are now exposed to traffic that squeezes by them or swerves around them.
“There’s definitely a high chance of an accident happening because of this because it’s really close in the road,” said driver Denis Fridman.
A spokesperson for the city admits the new design has confused some drivers, but believes it will make city streets safer in the long run.
“Protected bike lanes get more people on bikes. And they reduce injury crash on the streets for everyone,” said Department of Transportation Spokesperson Colin Heyne.
The change comes at an appropriate time; San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo was hit by an SUV while riding his bicycle on New Year’s Day. He was released from Regional Medical Center on Wednesday evening.