A new plan aims to turn East San Jose into a pedestrian-friendly transit port by reducing the need for cars and connecting the city’s residents together.
The Plan En Movimiento – Spanish for “on the move” – provides for an expanded network of sidewalks, bike lanes and bus lanes along a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) line, offering East Side residents a range of car-free travel options .
The plan drawn up by the city will be presented to the San Jose City Council on Tuesday.
“We know this is a very auto-centric city, and without really taking anything away, we’re giving people new ways to get around, which is exciting,” said Peter Rice, the project manager. “We offer safe alternatives for them especially for people who cannot drive – the elderly and children.”
East Side residents have long called for faster, safer and more reliable modes of transport to connect to the city center.
The En Movimiento plan provides for an east-west bus rapid transit connection and a bicycle connection to the Diridon train station area, which is expected to become the main transportation hub in the city center and the location of Google’s mega-campus.
The plan also provides for the installation of San Francisco-style bus and emergency lanes that could separate public transportation from cars and cut travel times.
Santa Clara Street and Alum Rock Avenue are currently a major east-west thoroughfare, but the street has up to six lanes with no bike lanes. East San Jose is also divided by two highways, which can make biking and walking both difficult and unsafe.
Community groups, including SOMOS Mayfair and the Vietnamese Voluntary Foundation, have campaigned for the plan to address key safety concerns.
In a memo, Councilors Raul Peralez and Magdalena Carrasco said that East San Jose has historically suffered inequalities when it comes to land use and transportation planning.
“Conveniences such as an interconnected, safe and robust bicycle network, improved traffic infrastructure and first-class pedestrian facilities were often an afterthought and a lack of cohesion,” the legislature wrote in a memo. “Families choosing alternate modes should be able to safely navigate their neighborhood, whether by bike, on foot, or by bus.”
Protecting cyclists and pedestrians from traffic will become even more important when the proposed 28th Street / Little Portugal BART station in East San Jose is completed by 2030. New and expanded routes connect pedestrian and bicycle traffic with the BART station.
The bike lanes on East St. John Street – just north of the East Santa Clara Street thoroughfare – allow cyclists to ride downtown without getting caught in traffic.
The plan also includes a new bicycle and pedestrian bridge over Coyote Creek between St. John Street and Roosevelt Park.
According to a city report, residents encouraged more bike and pedestrian lanes to cross Coyote Creek and Highway 101.
The city recently received a grant to widen the bridge over Coyote Creek on East Santa Clara Street. The plan goes even further, however, to widen sidewalks, build medians, and create curbs to keep people safe from cars.
Ramses Madou, division chief for the city’s transportation department, said the plan will make the changes residents are demanding and will help San Jose achieve its bigger goal of connecting transit lines across the city.
“This is a plan to give the neighborhood the convenience of transportation.” Said Madou. “We’re also trying to move the needle to make the area more attractive.”
Between 2013 and 2018, San Jose designated six locations as urban villages along the East Santa Clara / Alum Rock Corridor.
The En Movimiento plan was designed to support growth and security in these urban villages. It also supports the city’s goal of reducing the ride rate in San Jose to 40 percent by 2040, according to a memo from Transportation Director John Ristow.
Madou said the project is funded by the city’s sidewalk program as well as state, state and regional grants. BART and developers moving in will also pay part of the bill.
“The En Movimiento plan is a welcome step to finally correct the historical errors that have been imposed on this community and to use the future BART station to thoughtfully advance the long-awaited transport improvements in our neighborhoods,” said Peralez and Carrasco .
This story was written and reported by Carly Wipf. Contact Carly Wipf at [email protected] or follow @CarlyChristineW on Twitter.