South Bay business owners say bike lane improvement plans could be bad for business

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- San Jose's Department of Transportation began looking for ways to improve cyclist safety throughout the city last year. DOT workers have since compiled a detailed list of changes that should help the department reach its goal.

The City of San Jose has named the project "Better Bikeway SJ."

The project would put more protected bike lanes on our roads with hopes of not only improving safety but also getting more people on bikes.

RELATED: First protected bike lane opens in SF's Tenderloin

Parts of the project involve removing parking, re-configuring lanes, and redirecting traffic.

However, with change and growth, comes growing pains.

"I think it will be a minor inconvenience for drivers," Colin Heyne with the city's DOT told ABC7 News. "There's always a learning curve when we implement these projects."

Long-time business owners along East San Salvador Street told ABC7 News the proposed changes are far from minor and impact more than just drivers.

One change would remove parking on the north side of East San Salvado Street from 1st through 10th streets. No parking would be permitted between 7th and 8th streets.

"If you cut the parking in half, that may put our 35-year-old business in danger; jobs lost," Huy Quach said.

He attended the DOT's Better Bikeways meeting on Wednesday afternoon. Quach owns China Chen restaurant in Downtown San Jose.

Quach said the current lack of parking has already hurt his business, but bike lanes may be too much for his restaurant to handle.

DOT spokesman, Colin Heyne said the city has a lot to gain.

He explained there was an average of 600 reported bike and pedestrian crashes in San Jose per year, prior to 2017.

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He said that number dropped to 450, in part because of education, outreach and improved infrastructure.

"Cyclists are a growing thing in San Jose as gridlock grows," Robert Mardell said. "More cycles need to be on the road."

Mardell owns La Dolce Velo, a bike shop along The Alameda.

Others argued they need to know more about what's being done to help those already struggling to make ends meet.

"I'm all for bikes, I'm all for getting rid of the congestion, but you've got to do it in a balanced, sensible way," local property manager, Steve Cohen told ABC7 News.

"You can't take away everything that's there now and not have something to substitute it with."

Follow this link for details about the project, and what might be happening in your corner of Downtown San Jose.
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