By Len Ramirez

SAN JOSE (KPIX) — The city of San Jose is replacing painted-on pavement bike lane designations, with permanent concrete barriers to provide safer bike commuter lanes.

On 10th and 11th Streets in downtown San Jose, one whole car lane has been eliminated in favor of the expanded bike lanes.

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“I definitely feel safer and I feel it’s well-needed downtown, to have greater definition of where cars go and where bikes go,” said Michael Nguyen, who commutes by bicycle.

It’s the latest addition to San Jose’s Vision Zero plan, an ambitious program to eliminate traffic-related fatalities on city streets.

“People being people were driving in the bike lane, cars whizzing by you fast is still uncomfortable
even if you’ve got a few feet of paint separating you. Having that physical barrier creates a lot more
peace of mind for people,” said Colin Heyne, of the San Jose Transportation Department.

Heyne is also a bike commuter.

“It’s amazing. It feels like you’re on a separate street,” he said.

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Tenth and 11th Streets were chosen because they are busy streets, where cars tend to drive fast.

“Usually around four-ish, cars start coming and they’re pulling out from everywhere,” said Jennifer Terrazas, who lives on 11th Street, and says the barriers have an added benefit.

They form a kind of frontage road allowing drivers to safely slow down to find parking or pull into or out of their driveway.

“It allows cars and bikes to pull to the side without disrupting traffic,” Terrazas said.

But other neighbors complain that they can get locked in when emergency vehicles or even garbage trucks pull into the lane. And since they are only curb height, some wonder if it gives riders a false sense of security.

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“For bikers, I don’t know. I feel like you have the same opportunity to get hit,” said James, who lives nearby and would rather see taller barriers as a safeguard against traffic.