San Jose streets closed to cars for one day as Viva Calle festival returns
The city center looked more like Copenhagen or Amsterdam than San José on Sunday.
The ringing of bicycle bells replaced horns as thousands joined in the Viva Calle open-street fair, which encouraged walking, cycling or skating in the city’s most historic areas.
After being forced to cancel last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event came back in force on Sunday, with six miles of roads closed to motor traffic for about five hours. From Mexican Heritage Plaza to the Alameda, through SOFA and all the way to Japantown, the car-free routes invited bikes and skaters to enjoy live music, local stalls, a drag show – or “drag race” – and extreme bike stunts.
For Raul Rivera, who has lived his entire life on the east side, the Viva Calle has become a family tradition over the years. Along with a dozen other parents in San Francisco Giants gear on Sunday, Rivera said the day brought him back to the Story Road cruise with his family and pals just to have a good time. moment. Being surrounded by his family – including his recently born granddaughter – has been a blessing for him, Rivera said.
“We’re a big city now, but you don’t feel it until things like this happen,” Rivera said. “We always have the impression of being with family. Back then, you were sailing and showing your car. People show their bikes here. There was nothing like it before.
Veronica Rivera said their family had been through stormy weather and insane heat, but today “it’s perfect”.
Craig Simpson, who came from Mountain View just for the event, rode his unicycle through Third Street and Santa Clara with his partner, Lyn Simpson. He said he would have gone on two wheels, but it’s not good for his back after years of back and foot problems.
“I started riding a unicycle a few years ago,” said Simpson. “I thought it would help me with my back and he’s got a lot of it. I had problems with my foot and my sciatic nerve so I had a lot of pain. The unicycle took it down considerably as it worked on my abdominal muscles. It’s so much fun too.
And proponents of the car-less bicycle are hoping for a permanent solution.
Biking on Santa Clara Street or First Street can be a scary prospect any other day, but that’s exactly the problem the Valley Transportation Authority is trying to solve with its Central Bikeway project, a 10-mile cycle highway being considered. to connect San Jose and Santa Clara from the Berryessa BART station through the airport and to the western districts of the city.
On Sunday, the transit agency set up a small central bike path to show cyclists what it will be like to ride with 7 feet of space between cars and bikes, a buffer that will put cyclists of all ages at ease, said attorney Donny Donohue.
Proposed as part of the County Cycling Plan in 2018, the central bike path will also connect to the approximately 200-mile network of dedicated bike paths.
Donohue knows how difficult it can be to cycle through the city streets, always dreading the worst and being on his guard. The central cycle path, like the Viva CalleSJ event, will allow cyclists to “bring back the cold and make biking a fun way to get around and enjoy their city”.
“The most important thing I notice is the older people and the people who ride with their kids, and you usually don’t see these people often pulling on this road on a bicycle,” Donohue said. “For me, cycling in the city is a matter of stress; you are constantly focused. It’s relaxing. “
Ed Solis, the city of San Jose recreation superintendent and planner for Sunday’s deployment, said he feared attendance might suffer amid the coronavirus pandemic, but he was pleasantly surprised to see thousands of people to participate.
“There were so many families and people of all ages and abilities today,” Solis said. “I couldn’t be happier with our team, our city and the resilience of our community. Nothing can stop San Jose from showing who we are.
“As I call it, miles of smiles.”