‘Walkable, bikeable’ future is now

It’s a Saturday afternoon in Gilroy, and the family is looking for something to do.  You decide to stay local and get the bikes ready for a ride. You call up the neighbors and meet on the Levee Class l Bike/Ped Trail, which is referred to as the recreation spine of the city.

You ride up the trail along Uvas Creek and take in the views of the year-round green hills. You stop off at the park and let the kids run wild for a bit. More local neighbors join you at the park. You realize time has passed quickly and your reservations at the new farm-to-table restaurant are quickly approaching.

No need to stress because it’s located just one more mile along the Bike/Ped Path, and you get free front row bicycle parking at the new Ag-Tourist Hecker Pass destination. This is just one of the many reasons the Hecker Pass project will benefit the city as a whole, while enhancing the walkable and bikeable capabilities of the neighborhood.

This project is designed to reward the walkers and bikers, which is why the parking lot is located where it is on Lone Oak Way. The Walk Score of the residential developments in Hecker Pass are 3 out of 100. This means that there are no basic services like grocery stores, restaurants, coffee shops, flower shops and retail within walking distance.

You need a vehicle to run all errands. Creating livable communities for all ages means that you will have healthy, active and engaged people living there. This project and others that will follow will create a livable community for those residents who live close by, but also engage those who live within walking distance. The children will benefit the most in the Hecker Pass Specific Plan since they will have a protected path for Safe Routes to School.

The Gilroy Bicycle Pedestrian Commission studies these community needs and what it takes to build walkable and bikeable communities. We regularly promote the concept of free-range people. This commercial project and the Class I Bike/Ped Trail came through the Gilroy Bicycle Pedestrian Commission in May 2017 and August 2017 where we provided our recommendations for the staff report.

During these two public meetings, we never heard from the general public regarding safety. The streets are narrow by design to slow all vehicles. It is safe to ride on the streets, and we teach the youth across the city how to ride and walk safely with Safe Routes to School.

This project will support the Safe Routes to School programs here in Gilroy because we are teaching the youth to stay local and out of their cars. They have the tools to ride and walk safely around their neighborhoods. I am looking forward to projects like this one that meet the current cost of living and lifestyle in which that I’m raising my family.

The Gilroy City Council approved the project and stayed the course with its No. 1 goal of economic development, promoting the recent resolution of Ag-Tourism in the Hecker Pass Corridor and creating walkable and bikeable communities. Gilroy and the west side of town are craving for upscale destinations to take our families.

As a resident who lives on Third Street, I welcome the increase of traffic by walkers, bikers, scooters and vehicles. It means my neighbors are staying local and being active in the community. The most liberating way to live among all incomes and the most profitable investments we can make in a community today are to make them more walkable and bikeable.