Gilroy welcomes the increase of traffic by walkers, bikers, scooters, one-wheelers, and skateboarders.

By Zachary Hilton

It’s Monday night and I’m sitting with my daughter, Avery, who is working on her homework, when my name is called upon inside the City Council Chambers. Every time I am called upon to speak, my heart beats a little faster as adrenaline pumps into my veins. I am passionate about the work that I have been doing, and I have never taken the easy way. We are here tonight to speak up in public comment about e-bike/e-scooter operations in Gilroy.

It’s in support of your adopted Economic Development Incentive Framework. Let’s be visionary. Anticipate the integration of cutting-edge and future technologies, both within city services and in the community as a whole. Maximize the use of smart infrastructure through partnerships that expand technology and create value for residents. Enhance and streamline the workflow process for internal and external stakeholders through the use of technology. E-scooter trips have doubled since 2017, and are a part of multi-modal transportation. In total, there were 84 million trips in 2018.  Gilroy Costco is selling e-scooters today, you can buy them online, and many are being used around town and to commute by VTA/Caltrain.  Well-connected bike networks like ours have shown to keep scooters and bikes off sidewalks. We have the capacity to fit in scooters.

We aren’t going into this blindly.  There are best practices all around us and a national best practices playbook from Transportation for America. Through a Request for Proposal we control the expectations and guidelines with a strong ordinance and permit process for all micro-mobility options. Many cities are writing ordinances that include various modes of transportation such as the use of electric one-wheels and electric skateboards, so they don’t have to go through the process each time. Both of these are sold online and being used in the city. Caltrain is currently studying ways to increase walking and rolling to their stations without the use of automobiles. Our Caltrain parking lot is getting more and more full with no plans to expand current parking.  

Last year, the outdoor industry generated:

  • $92 billion in consumer spending;
  • $6.2 billion in state and local tax revenue; and
  • 691,000 jobs

There is a large segment of our population who don’t want to own a car or simply can’t afford it. Owning your own car is not a dream that occurs any longer with many who turn 16.  Walking and rolling is still the safest and cheapest way to travel compared to the automobile. Unlike automobiles, speeds can be governed down in high pedestrian areas with the use of technology. We are building and planning our streets with a Complete Streets approach since 2012. We plan for current and future generations. 

We welcome the increase of traffic by walkers, bikers, scooters, one-wheelers, and skateboarders. It means our neighbors are staying local and being active in the community. The most liberating way to live amongst all incomes and the most profitable investments we can make in a community today are to make them more walkable and bikeable. Thank you city council for listening to this opportunity. As we move forward you have a dedicated Bicycle Pedestrian Commission (#GilroyBPAC) that has the capacity to ensure we do this the right way. We are already out in the public doing education and encouragement throughout the year. Now with a dedicated funding source that was passed earlier from Measure B, our efforts will even be more sustainable. 

After taking public comment and discussion the Gilroy City Council decided to move forward with a RFP for the operations of e-bikes/e-scooters and invite vendors in the first quarter of 2020. Having Avery there watching me speak during public comment is one of the most important values I can pass along. After all, I am advocating for her generation too. Avery and I gather our helmets, water bottles, and homework. We fill up the bottles in the hallway water station and walk out to the bike racks. Dark skies are above us now, so bike lights are a must. She loves the way they glam up the bike.

As we finish our ride back home Avery looks at me and says, “Riding my bike is freedom, Dad.” I am honored and excited to be receiving this year’s Healthy Hero Award from the Mt. Madonna YMCA. I received the honor with other awardees at a dinner held at Sarah’s Vineyards Friday, Oct. 11.

Zachary Hilton is the chair of the Gilroy Bicycle Pedestrian Commission. He wrote this for Gilroy Life. Contact him at [email protected]

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