Friday, January 18, 2019

A Year in Review of the Gilroy BPAC

Here’s a year in review from the Gilroy Bicycle Pedestrian Commission that all Gilroyans can be proud of. Since last year we have had many accomplishments and put in motion many projects that will come to fruition in 2019. Gilroy BPAC’s strategic plan is our guiding document and changes throughout the year.  It’s located on our website and contains our logo, invitation to the public, goals, action plan, grants, and bike/ped projects.  It allows new Commissioners to come on board and get caught up before their first meeting. Our 2018 work plan was created in May and provides a forward look at what we are working on and its based off of the City Council goals. 

Finance came to our October meeting to present the process for the upcoming City budget.  In November we will submit our requests/projects and aligned them with City Council’s top 5 Strategic Plan Goals and our current work plan. We are asking that select Commissions/Committees be audio and video recorded for increased transparency.  By live streaming, governments are demonstrating transparency and accountability; it also provides real-time and accurate information to citizens quickly and efficiently.

We applied and were awarded the League of American Bicyclist Bicycle Friendly Community Bronze Level for 2019-2022.  Only 8 out of 15 cities in Santa Clara County have this award and we are one of them now. Our monthly award is a great way to interact with the public, recognize those that strive to make Gilroy a better place in regards to Bike/Ped activities.  Nomination form is on our website.  It’s a great tool for recruitment to Commissions.

For 2018’s Bike to Work Day on May 10 in our continued partnership with the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition, the City of Gilroy’s BPAC one again participated and cheered-on Bike to Work Day event participants and commuters located at the Caltrain Station. The goal is to begin to change the car culture within local business communities and folks that commute to work.  51 participants 2018 vs. 27 in 2017

We passed an amendment to our Commission’s Ordinance so that we could be more effective and have a voice for bike/ped projects, and ensure transportation projects include Complete Streets, which we believe, should be a way of life and not chosen just for specific projects.  Thank you to City Council for approving these changes.   

Cool stuff happening at Gilroy Unified School District's Ascension Solorsano Middle School. We got to ride and visit with the The Specialized Foundation #RidingForFocus program that was awarded to the school this school year!  I heard that the two other middle schools in Gilroy were asked to apply for the grant funded program from our neighbors to the north because of the success of the program.  Our Commission provided a letter of support for the grant.

Every kids starts out on a BMX style bike and Gilroy has never had an official bike park for the community until on Oct 15, 2018 when City Council approved a motion to enter into a MOU with Garlic City BMX to operate a Bike Park Pump Track at Christmas Hill Park.  Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco said it will be coming back to City Council for final approval 1st quarter of 2019.

Council approved a budget amendment for each Commission/Committee to have a $1000 training budget to include the purchase of business cards.  The return on investment was three of the Commissioners along with our VTA BPAC rep Carolyn, and City Staff attended the annual SVBC Bike Summit. We made contacts, built relationships in the region, and received education to bring back to the Commission and City. trainings identified. We hope that this budget item will continue for our Commission in the next budget process.  We have a mix of free and paid training opportunities that you can see in each of our agenda packets.  We met the public affairs director for Bird E-Scooters at the bike summit conference and they want to operate here in Gilroy.  Gavilan College is still onboard to launch, but is looking for the City to lead the way.

We have established a bike rack decal program for the decorative bike racks in Gilroy.  The cost is $350 for 5 years and then that donor will get first rights for another 5 years.  It’s a brushed aluminum decal that is purchased through TFB Designs in Downtown Gilroy.  The funds go into a Public Bike Fund where we can support public bike projects.  The fund can accept direct donations as well. We currently have 6 locations in Downtown Gilroy with active decals and 3 that are open.  (7th/Monterey at Art’s Center, 4th/Monterey, & 4th/Eigleberry)  We have 7 open locations for decorative bike racks.  We currently have 100 bicycle parking spots in Historic Downtown and with all the current unused public spaces we could reach 300 bike parking spots, which includes all the Downtown Districts.  

In 2018 we have closed down the streets around Downtown to automobiles and have opened them up to walkers/bikers more than in the recent past.  Events like Downtown Live, National Night Out, Garlic City Car Show, and the CARAS Tamal Festival support the equity of our streets to other users besides an automobile.  The Gilroy Bicycle Pedestrian Commission supports these open streets events, and we are advocating for the use of Measure B funds once released to host a variety of open streets events sponsored by the City.  

We currently have 34 miles of bike infrastructure.  We didn’t add any this year because the City has not taken over what you might currently see that’s new out there.  There are plans to add approx. 15 miles of bike infrastructure next year.  I’m happy to report that the recent repaving at Wren/Welburn Ave closed a gap in our bike route and you will see the first green paint on the streets in Gilroy.  Sharrows inside green boxes have been placed on Welburn from Wren to Carmel. 

HWY 152/1stSt will have bike lanes, ADA curb ramps, and high visibility crosswalks from Santa Teresa to HWY 101.  More details of the final striping plan should be available soon.   Town Place (Nob Hill/Starbucks/House of Bagels/Anytime Fitness/Pineapple Village) at Wren Ave/1stSt installed 16 bicycle parking spots for their customers after we advocated for it.  Businesses along 1stSt should prepare for the addition of bike lanes by next summer.  Contact us for help.  

The Patio project, which was just presented at the Planning Commission, is the 2nd project that we believe shows where the future of auto vehicle parking standards are heading. Our parking policy and codes are outdated and don’t contain enough healthy language in them, and are skewed towards autos rather than providing equity towards other modes of transportation. We provided comments that mirrored what Caltrans and VTA are planning for the future.  Caltrans District 4 is the first district in CA to have a Bike Plan and they are currently forming a Pedestrian Plan.  This project has plans for a bike fix it station, short and long term bike parking. Hecker Pass trailhead at Santa Teresa/1stSt will be coming soon and will feature a bike fix it station, bike racks, access to water, trees, and benches.  It will serve as a meeting location to ride the bike/ped trail along Hecker Pass and enjoy the new commercial ag-tourists destinations planned. This connection will continue along the recreation spine all the way to the sports park.  
Once these bike fix it stations are installed Gilroy will have 6 of them.  Downtown, Library, Gavilan, The Patio, Hecker Pass Trailhead, Hecker Pass Ag-Tourist Commercial, all will show up on an interactive map from

We begin our new session January 22, 2019 at the Gilroy City Council Chambers. Come join us! #GilroyBPAC

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Electric scooters could be in Gilroy in 2019 (Gilroy Dispatch Article)

Gilroy Dispatch
December 21, 2018
Bryce Stoepfel

After being snubbed by Lime Bike bicycles in June this year, the City of Gilroy is taking off its training wheels to try again for a rideshare alternative. This time, it’s electric scooters.
The city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee late last month passed a draft resolution from Bird Scooter to introduce at least 200 rideshare elec- tric scooters to the city, pending approval by the Gilroy City Council.

Bird electric scooters are pay-per-mile, stand- up devices that can reach speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. Touted as a “first mile and last mile com- muter option,” (from home to public transit, then to the final destination,) Bird hopes its scooters will ease street congestion and reduce air pollution.
"We want to capitalize on our growth and pursue alternative modes of trans- portation for residents,
visitors and workers in Gilroy," said committee chairman Zach Hilton.

Bird is in its first year of operation and already has electric scooters in more than 100 cities throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and the European Union and at hundreds of col- lege campuses through- out the country, includ- ing San Jose State. Two of Bird's Bay Area markets, Oakland and San Jose, are also two of the largest. Bird's stated mission is to take cars off the road
to reduce traffic conges- tion and carbon emissions. According to Bird spokes- person Martin Fatooh, in its first year of business, Bird riders have traveled 14.3 million miles on their electric scooters, remov- ing 12.7 million pounds of carbon emissions from the air. A nearby exam- ple of Bird's environmen- tal potential is in Oakland.
"We've only been operating Oakland for four months, and I can tell you that over 74,000 pounds of carbon emis- sions have been reduced," Fatooh said.

Instances of scooter riders sowing panic on the city sidewalks have dot- ted the news throughout the year. In San Francisco, havoc wrought by scooter riders forced the city to ban electric scooters. The
ban was lifted in October after safety and parking concerns were resolved.
A draft resolution passed by Gilroy’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee on Nov. 27 stated that scooter riders must use the streets and bike lanes when possible. Parking regulations, which became a major issue in San Francisco, require rid- ers to park their scooters upright near bike racks,
designated Bird park- ing spots or next to an unmarked curb.
Scooters cannot block entrances, bus stops, benches, fire hydrants, call boxes, utility poles or areas designated for pedestrians.

Addressing safety concerns, Fatooh said statistics from the Austin, Texas, Department of Emergency Services showed fewer scooter injuries compared with bicycles.
"Despite traveling nearly 13 times as many miles than bicycles in Austin, there were half as many accidents from scooters than bicycles," Fathooh, who said Bird also has over 4,000 bikes in Austin.
Bird has an alert sys- tem where riders can report scooter-related safety issues directly to the company.

To get started Bird, riders are required to download an app on their smartphones, which describes safety procedures, how to ride the scooter according to the rules of the road, and parking.
Hilton said he expects the resolution to be taken up by the city council in January or February.