Is Scooterpocalypse Upon Us? May News from WalkSJ
San Jose Votes to Adopt Complete Streets Guidelines
At the May 1 San Jose city council meeting, council unanimously voted to adopt Complete Streets Standards and Guidelines, a document developed by the department of transportation to advance the city’s goal of safe sustainable inclusive transportation in San Jose. This is an important document and a big step towards codifying sustainability in transportation, and moving beyond our catastrophic automobile-centric past.
We’re grateful that city leadership, elected and staff alike, recognize the importance of this commitment and we are looking forward to working with the city and our partners to advance this shared goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and building a more inclusive and sustainable city.
Jane’s Walks This Weekend
We have a couple of great walks lined up this weekend in honor of the international Jane’s Walk Festival. Big Thanks to Think Bigger San Jose for organizing a couple of awesome mural tours, one in Old Town and the other in Japantown.
Aileen Quiroz Memorial Walk at Parkview Elementary
On May 23rd, Walk San Jose will join the family of Aileen Quiroz at Parkview Elementary for a walk in her memory. Aileen was 7 when she was struck and killed by a negligent driver while walking home from school in 2013. We stand with the Quiroz family and community in demanding our safer streets for children.
From the Quiroz family:
Join us as we walk in Aileen’s honor to:
• Promote safe driving in our community
• Reduce traffic congestion, pollution & speed near schools
• Build community by walking together safely
Join us at The Woods at 8:00 AM and walk with Parkview’s Walking School Bus, or walk from home!
Be sure to wear purple in Aileen’s memory!
San Pedro Square Farmer’s Market and Moment Opening in May
San Jose Downtown Farmer’s Market opens for the season this Friday May 4th at San Pedro Square. Discover the freshest in local fruits, vegetables and other delights at the outdoor market from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Fridays from May to November. Join us starting May 4 on San Pedro Square between Santa Clara and St. John streets.
Speaking of San Pedro Square, if you’ve walked down San Pedro lately and noticed the construction in the parking garage, turns out its been for a good cause. Powered by San Jose Made, MOMENT is a set of four brand new creative retail spaces located in downtown San Jose’s San Pedro Square.
We’re PSYCHED in a big way that the city is turning parking space into vibrant people focused projects like this. Thanks to everyone who contributed to make it happen.
Senior Traffic Safety Report
This month, Santa Clara County’s Traffic Safe Communities Network (TSCN) released its Senior Traffic Safety Report, which California Walks/Walk San Jose had an instrumental role in developing. The report is a thorough set of analyses and recommendations for cities and the transit authority, to help them develop safer, healthier more inclusive transportation options for older adults. Its a great document we are proud to have influenced and look forward to working with our partners to advance its goals.
Walk to Work Day Recap!
Santa Clara County’s inagural Walk to Work event was a big hit. With Dozens of county staff joining county supervisor Ken Yeager, Walk San Jose program manager Chris Johnson and county wellness team on a short walk from the county building out to the Guadalupe trail and back.
This event also served as the public unveiling of our new loop cards, which start and end at the Civic Center, and offer two different self guided tours of the area.
Next year we hope to add more locations and more hosts and partners! If you’re interested in working with Walk San Jose to showcase walkability in your neighborhood, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The sudden appearance of hundreds of electric scooters in San Jose and around the Bay Area in late March set off an intense debate about policy and priorities in the face of new technology and shared mobility options. On one hand, scooters offer a compact, affordable, convenient, green alternative to cars. On the other, they risk becoming a nuisance and a safety threat to pedestrians by introducing high speed users and right of way hazards to sidewalks. Friend of Foe? Misguided solution or opportunity? Its too early to tell, but in San Jose, San Francisco and at the state level, conflicting efforts to promote scooters and to regulate them are at a fever pitch.
City of San Jose DOT: For now, DOT doesn’t distinguish between e-scooters and “motorized scooters” which have state definitions and rules prohibiting use on sidewalks. The city is working on a permitting system that will begin outreach over the summer and is expected to roll out in the fall.
State legislation: AB 2989 is currently in the pipeline, having passed though the transportation subcommittee last week In short, there is currently no definition of electric scooter and disagreement on whether their definition should be closer to the current definition of e-bikes or of motorized scooters. While this might not seem like a big deal, it does have specific and significant implications. The bill reads as follows:
1) Defines a “standup electric scooter” as a two-wheeled device that has handlebars and a floorboard that is designed to be stood upon while riding, is powered by an electric motor of less than 750 watts, and does not exceed a speed of 20 miles per hour (mph). This bill specifically excludes standup electric scooters from the definition of a motorized scooter.
2) Authorizes a person to operate a standup electric scooter on sidewalks and park in the same manner and at the same locations as bicycles.
3) Authorizes a local jurisdiction to adopt rules and regulations prohibiting or restricting persons from riding or propelling a standup electric scooter on highways, sidewalks, or roadways.
4) Restricts a person from leaving a standup electric scooter lying on its side on any sidewalk,or parking a standup electric scooter on a sidewalk in any manner such that there is not an adequate path for pedestrian traffic.
5) Requires a person under the age of 18 to wear a properly fitted and fastened helmet, as defined, while riding on a standup electric scooter.
6) Restricts a person from operating a standup electric scooter in the following ways:
a) With any passengers in addition to the operator.
b) Carrying any package, bundle, or article that prevents the operator from keeping at least one hand upon the handlebars.
c) Without a brake that enables the operator to make a braked skid on dry, level, clean pavement.
d) With handlebars positioned so that the operator’s hands are above the level of his or her shoulders.
7) Authorizes a person to operate a standup electric scooter in a bicycle lane established on a
roadway in a manner which does not endanger the safety of bicyclists.
8) Requires every standup electric scooter operated during darkness to be equipped with a front
white light, white or yellow side reflectors, and a red rear reflector, as defined.
So you can see this would significantly change the way e-scooter systems are treated, particularly where they’re allowed. In San Francisco, the city took to impounding the share scooters on mass, when parked illegally, and is looking at even more restrictive policies. [edit: SF has adopted a permitting pilot] Our sister org Walk San Francisco, started a hashtag and photo album #ScootersBehavingBadly to make the case that if the policies don’t create a safe framework, and if- as some fear- scooters don’t replace car trips but replace walking trips, they have the potential to be a net negative for pedestrian safety.
We don’t know how it’ll shake out, but our state policy team in Sacramento is working hard to make sure that any state policy is respectful of our concerns. We’ll be following the conversations and making sure the safety of vulnerable users continues to be our top priority. Stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter feeds to get the latest updates.