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The Trail Down the Street: San Jose Plans for Trails Within Three Miles of All Residents

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 Jose might 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 ambitious Green Vision supports 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 Valley residents to journey to work, or take care of errands with little or no interaction with automotive traffic. 

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 Trails Program


Posted Fri, May 21 2010 3:01 PM by Steve Schweigerdt (RTC)

Comments

Phil Cornish wrote re: The Trail Down the Street: San Jose Plans for Trails Within Three Miles of All Residents
on Tue, May 25 2010 1:27 PM

Great blog Yves...you are doing an amazing job on trails in San Jose.

Leslee Hamilton wrote re: The Trail Down the Street: San Jose Plans for Trails Within Three Miles of All Residents
on Tue, May 25 2010 8:33 PM

Kudos to the City of San Jose and Mr. Zsutty for building a very attractive trail system. San Jose is proving that if you build it, they will come.

Carl Sade wrote re: The Trail Down the Street: San Jose Plans for Trails Within Three Miles of All Residents
on Wed, Jun 2 2010 10:09 PM

I AM LOOKING FOR WORK IN TRAILS BACK HOME IN San Jose I am finishing a year contract with the CCC in San Luis Obispo where I maintained many of the counties trails. If you could get to me on my email about who to contact that would be great. my email sade_carl@yahoo.com

Thanks

Carl Sade

Richard Zappelli wrote re: The Trail Down the Street: San Jose Plans for Trails Within Three Miles of All Residents
on Wed, May 2 2012 5:41 PM

Nice job !!! Thanks for your support  

 

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