By Yves Zsutty, City of San Jose Trail Program
I recently learned of Rails-to-Trails
Conservancy's goal to have 90 percent of Americans live within three miles of a trail or connecting corridor by
2020. With this metric in mind, I thought that San
be a good model to showcase how an urban area is served by and functions with
distributed trails. We have nearly 54 miles of off-street trails within
the city's urban boundaries. Several of the 24 trail systems are not yet interconnected but are
found throughout the city. Our
completion of a 100-mile trail network by 2022.
We prepared this map to show neighborhoods served within three miles of existing trails. Even with just more than 50 percent of our network in place, we
offer accessibility to 99 percent of all residents. The work underway through 2022
will make trails even more viable for commuting and recreation by extending
trails, closing gaps and interconnecting the trails. The Trail Network is and
will be an important element within the transportation system of the nation's
10th largest city. It will
be possible for Silicon
to journey to work, or take care of errands with little or no interaction with
With well-distributed trails in
place, let me offer a few facts about existing trail usage. First, San Jose has a little more 1 million residents and is the largest city in Northern California.
The city's mild climate, with 300 days of sunshine, a level valley-floor
topography, and casual Silicon
Valley style make biking a viable
and desirable recreational and commute mode that is always a few short miles
from home. The network's core regional trail systems are easily accessible from
the roadway system. Until
fully developed, 200 miles of on-street bike lanes provide defined bicycle
access, and that system will grow to 400 miles by 2022.
Our annual Trail Count tells us the following:
- Usage has increased by
double-digits for each of the past three years.
- More than 50 percent of trail users are
commuting to and from work.
- Trail users report a desire to bike
more with further trail development.
Other data-collection efforts in
recent years show a dramatic growth in bicycling: a 200-percent increase (0.4 percent to 1.2 percent of work trips) from 2006 to 2008, and 2008 work trips by bike are about
two-and-a-half times the national average (1.2 versus 0.5 percent).
Trails play an important commuting role
because of their proximity to employment:
- High tech jobs within the North
San Jose area
are within three-quarters a mile of a trail.
- Approximately 50,000 residents
reside downtown and are within three-quarters a mile of a trail.
So, from our local perspective, I can
say that Rails to Trails Conservancy's mission is highly achievable and will offer
big dividends in terms of greater levels of recreation and bicycle commuting.
Photos courtesy City of San Jose