San Jose wants equity in new transportation services

Scooters. Drones. Transportation. A fleet of transportation ideas is spreading in San Jose, and the municipality wants to make sure everyone benefits.

The city council last week approved an action plan for evolving mobility services – a cut-off for new transportation technologies and plans that are spreading in San Jose. Services range from bicycle sharing plans to autonomous delivery vehicles.

At the heart of the plan are recommendations on how San Jose can integrate new transportation services into communities that have been historically neglected by the city. Some include specific pilots, such as creating a community travel sharing program. Some of the plans are already in the process, one of which is a $ 2.25 million grant from the California Air Resources Board for San Jose, Auckland and Richmond to design mobility hubs that include sharing electric cars and electric chargers that serve low-income families.

Planners recommend the municipality continue to ask residents what they want.

“Equity is not just a result, it’s also a process,” Ramses Mado, director of the Planning, Policy and Sustainability Division at San Jose’s Department of Transportation, told San Jose Spotlight. “People want to be a part of making decisions about what’s going on in the neighborhood.”

This is especially important because one sweeping piece of feedback the city has received is that residents want to consult on projects, according to Laura Stoczynski, a leader in the city’s emerging mobility program.

“With each of these services (transportation), we need to look at the range of experiences that people have,” she told San Jose Spotlight, referring to the inclusion of social issues, such as housing and safety.

San Jose is actively working on a number of transportation programs to improve mobility around the city and meet its climate goals. The downtown transportation plan is considering how to reduce driving and revive foot traffic in the urban core. City leaders also examined the abolition of parking space requirements for new developments in the city center to reduce the carbon footprint.

Impractical transition

Through the capital task force, the city has already learned that some modes of transportation are impractical for residents. Peter Ortiz, president of the Santa Clara County Department of Education who served in the Equality Task Force, said East San Jose residents are skeptical about scooters. Ortiz is running for the San Jose District 5 City Council seat.

“It does not necessarily work for the single mother who has to drop her children off at school – she can not get her children to jump on a scooter and drop them off,” he told San Jose Spotlight. “Or for the family who wants to shop at the grocery store – they can not necessarily hop on an electric bike and go to the local grocery store and stack their goods.”

Another member of the task force, MyLinh Pham, CEO and founder of the American Center for Santa Clara County, said some residents do not see bike sharing as worthwhile because it takes too long to travel between different parts of the city – and non-English speakers struggle with non-travel sharing programs. Multilingual, she says, it might make more sense for the city to focus on improving its existing public transportation system, such as adding more benches and covered shelters at bus stops.

“Before we even talk about evolving mobility in terms of thinking about the new modes of transportation, we need to at least improve what we have,” she told San Jose Spotlight.

Rosalinda Aguilar, acting president of the Guadeloupe neighborhood association in Washington, told the San Jose Spotlight that the streets are not for bicycles and scooters. Aguilar’s main concern is traffic safety, which she says the city has neglected in its neighborhood.

“In support of more bikes or scooters, I’m worried we’ll add more traffic without first addressing the traffic issues we have without them,” she said, adding that she is pushing the city to give her neighborhood simple repairs, like bump speed and speed monitor displays to reduce vehicle collisions.

Lawyers are eager to see if the city can provide solutions to the wide range of needs of people with disabilities. Aaron Morrow, chairman of the VTA Transportation and Accessibility Committee, told the San Jose Spotlight he asked VTA about expanding alternatives to its transit service – a shuttle program that some residents complain is too slow. He said the city can partner with private companies to invent New services, but think it will be challenging.

“How do you open it to a wider market?” he said. “No disability fits nicely into a beautiful package … how do you make it equal across the board?”

Stoczynski stressed that the emerging mobility plan should work and complement the city’s other transportation destinations – like the downtown transportation plan. She also noted that transportation solutions can address other social problems, such as housing being developed near corridors.

“You can see how when you put all of these things together you can make huge changes that allow people to take advantage of additional services,” she said.

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