Published in the January 23 – February 5, 2019 issue of Gilroy Life

Zachary Hilton

The future of Gilroy is now. One day you’ll be able to sip your morning coffee as the sun is starting to shine upon your balcony. You just moved into your new apartment at 8955 Monterey Road and you are starting to put the plans together for a Sunday in downtown Gilroy. You have many options to get there. The 68 VTA bus stops in front of your residence every 20 minutes or we could hop on a Bird E-Scooter that are right out front sitting in the plaza.

Ride share companies like Uber and Lyft are in Gilroy now. Getting residents out of their cars and using these transportation options is being encouraged globally all the way down to our city. Your Gilroy Bicycle Pedestrian Commission works hard to advocate and make these options possible.

The apartment complex, like other recent larger complexes, will feature storage rooms inside the complex that can safely secure 80 bikes. The public plaza that will be built in front of the complex will cater to those who walk and bike. The public plaza will have commercial spaces suited for small stores and eateries. Along with public benches and secured front row bicycle parking, there will be a water feature and public art. Initially, the developer had no plans for public art but councilmember Dion Bracco asked the developer to include an art piece not to exceed $10,000 and the developer agreed.  The Gilroy Public Art Committee will approve that art piece. We are currently reaching out to car share companies like GIG to come to Gilroy. When you build developments like this one you need to provide many options to residents in order to make them transit oriented and have alternative modes of transportation at their fingertips.

The weather is nice for a 30-minute walk to Promised Land Brewery located in downtown Gilroy. This newest brewery located between 5th and 6th streets, features a taproom where the beer is piped fresh from the kettles in the back. Brewery owner Eric Ingram owns many successful BBQ restaurants and this will be his first brewery.  You continue the adventure by taking an Uber six blocks down the road to the new CineLux entertainment center that will be coming this spring located at the former Platinum movie theater. There you can grab a bite to eat at the café and sip some local beer/wine from South Valley.

One way cities successfully increase turnover in their downtowns is with parking meters and enforcing a time limit. Paying for front row parking at a premium will encourage the use of alternative modes of transportation. Uber/Lyft, e-bike share, e-scooter share, transit, walking, and biking all bring a visionary- and technology-based future to parking in the city and downtown. If the city were to change to a metered system where you paid to park, the city could collect funds and help offset the cost of sidewalk cleaning in the downtown and enforcement staff. Tourists would pay for prime spots and locals would know where they could park and walk for free. This will reduce parking in prime spots by downtown residents, employees, business and building owners. All while keeping a constant turnover, which is what businesses want.

The Gilroy Bicycle Pedestrian Commission is going to be making many recommendations for changes to the parking policy and parking code once the General Plan is finished. We need to include more healthy language and establish parking maximums rather than minimums. Currently and in the future not everyone will own a personal vehicle. Santa Clara County Healthy Cities Initiative is looking for these changes from Gilroy, as other cities have already made the shift.

The League of American Bicyclists recognized the city of Gilroy with a Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community award. We join the ranks of only 65 communities in the State of California that have achieved an award level. Gilroy is the eighth city out of 15 in Santa Clara County to earn this designation. Look for a public ceremony coming up in May during bike month and some signs near the gateways into the city promoting this award.

Zachary Hilton is a member of Gilroy’s Bicycle Pedestrian Commission. Follow him at #GilroyBPAC.

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