Published in the August 22 – September 4, 2018 issue of Gilroy Life

Zachary Hilton

It’s 8 a.m. and you can smell the coffee being roasted at Fifth Street Coffee, your regular spot for a morning fresh brew since you became a resident of downtown Gilroy. You finally found an affordable apartment at The Cannery on Lewis Street where you enjoy a community garden, exercise room, outdoor eating area, and plenty of bicycle parking. You have claimed downtown Gilroy as your new home — and all the experiences that come with it.

This new 104-unit affordable housing property will add value to the downtown core. The reason it was built in this area is because the limited availability of transit options in Gilroy are all in the downtown. This is known as transit-oriented development. It’s meant to be compact development, which is the will of the people with Gilroy Growing Smarter’s Measure H passing in 2016.

Residents don’t need a car if they live here. For many graduating college students and first-timers in the workforce, this will be a place to call home. Greenhouse Co-Working at Fifth Street and Monterey Road is within walking distance if they are an entrepreneur — and getting around Gilroy from the downtown is easy. 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. This project supports that.

Twenty additional bike-parking spots and a fix-it station are coming at the end of August to the downtown. Residents can use their smart phone to watch minor repair videos and use the bike pump to fill their tires. There is a station at the Gilroy Library, too. With this additional bike parking the Gilroy Bicycle Pedestrian Commission (#GilroyBPAC) is advocating for reverse angle parking in the downtown core. This is the safest form of parking for bicycles, pedestrians, and vehicles.

Drivers would no longer have to blindly back out into traffic, and when they are ready to leave they have a clear view of all traffic including bicycles.

When they park the car, passengers exit going toward the safety of the sidewalk and not into the traffic lane.  Several public meetings are taking place for the pavement project that is planned for next year on Monterey Road from First to Eighth streets.

Downtown Gilroy will get a new front door mat and with that comes new paint. The Gilroy Downtown Business Association is asking not just for high visibility crosswalks but also decorative painted ones — and we support them. This re-striping will connect to the new bikes lanes that will be added on First Street and Highway 152 next summer. Those bike lanes will connect all the way up to Santa Teresa Boulevard where they will meet our existing bike infrastructure and the new Bike/Ped Trail staging area that takes residents to the new Hecker Pass Ag-Tourist Commercial Project.

Creating livable communities for all ages means that the community will have healthy, active, and engaged people who live there.

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.

I will be speaking on bicycle advocacy Aug. 22 at the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition’s Bike Summit. My goal is to continue to shine a positive light on Gilroy’s downtown and bike/ped issues. Even though I am disappointed LimeBike couldn’t launch, the Gilroy Bicycle Pedestrian Commission and I will continue to pursue all means of alternative and active transportation for our city while taking a leadership role in Santa Clara County. Follow us at #GilroyBPAC.

Zachary Hilton is a member of Gilroy’s Bicycle Pedestrian Commission. He wrote this for Gilroy Life.

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