League of American Bicyclists recognized Gilroy as a Bicycle Friendly Community

Zachary Hilton

It’s a warm spring morning, and I take a sip of my locally roasted Gilroy Fifth Street Coffee on my front porch. I am looking up and down the street to see who else is joining us on the bike train.

My wife, Katie, daughter, Avery, and I fill our tires with air and hop on our bikes because it’s the final citywide Walk & Roll Wednesday of the year. We can smell the fresh flowers starting to bloom in the neighbor’s yards and the sun is just starting to warm our backs as we travel up Third Street to our first stop along the train route. We find ourselves in a teachable moment with our group when trash cans block our bike lane.

It happens to be the day before trash day pickup. Most everyone knows the trash cans/carts belong against the curbside, right? Well, we find a few houses along our route where they are being placed in the bike lane for pick up.

Some think it’s helping the garbage truck drivers and some just don’t have an open curbside. I completely understand every reason why.  My goal here is to let you know users of the bike lanes rely on them being clear at all times.

The Gilroy Bicycle Pedestrian Commission received an email from a GUSD school teacher who uses Church Street to commute to work. She experienced the same obstructions in the bike lane, but on a larger scale. Her entire route along Church Street was like riding on an obstacle course. Weaving in and out of the traffic lane and bike lane, all while avoiding trash cans.

We discussed the topic at our February meeting. In addition to the existing California Vehicle Code that states bike lanes cannot be blocked, we decided as a group with public input that we would create a campaign based on education and encouragement.

The first step was to establish a relationship with Recology. We need them as a partner in the campaign for messaging to their customers. The League of American Bicyclists recently recognized the city of Gilroy as a Bicycle Friendly Community.

One of the goals set by our commission is education and outreach to the public. Whether it’s commuting, recreation, or Safe Routes To School we have many users who rely on our network of bicycle lanes. We believe it has been a long time since our residents have been educated about the users of the bike lanes and how we can accomplish trash pick up safely and efficiently for everyone.

After a few emails with their general manager, they agreed to add “Do Not Block Bike Lanes “on their existing flyers to customers.

They also agreed to add a flyer to their bill inserts that was mutually created by the Gilroy BPAC and Recology, as long as it was printed on city of Gilroy letterhead. The city has started including our flyer artwork in a City Express email campaign, and we have begun social media posts as well.

We will begin doing direct campaign on two streets that were identified from public comment. These streets are Church Street and Eigleberry Street from First to Tenth streets near the downtown district. That will include leaving a flyer at the property where trash cans are placed in bike lanes.

Creating a sticker with the artwork would be useful to pass out when we are doing our outreach in the public as well. The sticker artwork is great for all languages spoken, because of the visual graphics included.

While doing research on this campaign I wasn’t able to find many campaigns out there that dealt with this issue.  If you ever need help in forming a similar campaign, please reach out to us at #GilroyBPAC.

Zachary Hilton is the chair of the Gilroy Bicycle Pedestrian Commission. He wrote this for Gilroy Life. Contact him at Zachary.Hilton@ci.gilroy.ca.us.


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