The City of San Jose has determined that by 2040 15% of commuters will be on bikes. Right now it sits at about 1%. That means within a quarter century, the city is expecting 15X more bicyclists. These are lofty goals, but in order for these to be fulfilled, the city needs to promote more than bike lanes and trails throughout the city. Although new residential developments coming into downtown are now providing more bike parking spaces than ever before, something more needs to be done. San Jose needs a niche developer or developers to take aim at the bike market and build residential units that target bikes specifically.
With all the infill spaces available in and around downtown, a residential developer could easily build bicycle-only developments. These developments could start small 5 or 10 unit complexes, that are tailor made for bikes. The benefits of such developments for a builder are that they could fit more units on a smaller property, taking the space that would usually be devoted to cars and making it into indoor or outdoor livable spaces. This would help keep building costs down and maximizes the dollar per square foot. Due to the proximity downtown of public transportation, jobs, and SJSU, bike properties could have a lot of success with a younger population looking to save money by not having a car, but who still want to be a part of an up and coming urban area. By keeping costs down and maximizing the developer’s dollar, the savings could be past down to the renter.
As bike trends in San Jose continue to grow stronger, and vehicle traffic continues to worsen, these new bike developments could become extremely appealing to a broader crowd. Ultimately, in order to have more bikes ridden to work, people need to get out of their cars. Those who may have never thought of commuting by bike, may take a chance seeing the ease of commute versus taking a car. Biking would become an integral part of downtown, creating a larger contingency pushing for better changes having a snow ball effect.
But the success of these properties is ultimately tied to building developments on bike lane streets, and near public transportation. Having residents walk out their door, get on their bike and immediately have their own lane would be a huge positive. On top of that, these properties would feed commuting by bike to VTA or Cal Train. With small complexes like this all over downtown, it could create enough bike traffic to reach 15% or more that the city is looking for becoming a highly desired unit for those looking to live downtown. Biking is becoming more of a way of life for urbanists, now is the time to capitalize on those people who want more from their residence, and less from their car.