Cyclists Take Back the Streets During Shelter Orders

The Willow Glen shop has had a hard time keeping bikes in stock since the Bay Area’s shelter-in-place began in mid-March.

“You go into a vendor and every single model and every single size is sold out,” said Melanie Hyland, general manager of Hyland Family Bikes.

With the coronavirus pandemic keeping more people cooped up at home, bike shop owners and cycling advocates have noticed an uptick in people jumping back on two-wheelers, including those purchasing one for the first time.

San Jose-based Hyland Family Bikes has set up its shop for no-contact purchasing to comply with social distancing guidelines. Hyland says she and her family members who work at the store are able to pick the correct size for customers based on their height since they’re unable to take the bike for a test ride. She added that most of the bikes they’ve sold are leisure or kids’ bikes.

“I think part of it is that [people are] at home and they’re looking for different things to do with their family outside of the house,” Hyland said.

Downtown San Jose’s Bicycle Express has remained busy as well, despite reduced hours. “It’s a good way to exercise and keep your distance,” owner Chuck Clifford said.

With fewer cars on the road, a number of cities across the country have started closing off streets to through traffic so cyclists and pedestrians have more space to roam. In early April, the Oakland launched its slow streets program—an effort to close 74 miles of roadways to through traffic for the next few months.

Dave Campbell, the advocacy director of Bike East Bay, said that the initiative is especially important in promoting social distancing since most sidewalks are no more than six feet wide, forcing pedestrians to step into the street.

The additional space, he added, may also help relieve pressure on the region’s parks and trails as residents begin to shelter outdoors.

“More and more people are ready to get outside,” Campbell said. “Not just for exercise, but simply to enjoy the warmer weather and they can’t all go to the beach, so why not play in the street right where they live.”

In the South Bay, the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition has made three recommendations to cities in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties to make the streets safer for bikers and pedestrians during the shelter-in-place.

Emma Shlaes, the coalition’s deputy director, said the organization is asking cities to post reduced speed advisories for residential streets, increase the amount of space for pedestrians and cyclists and make crossing signals automatic to reduce the amount of surfaces that individuals have to touch.

“In a lot of areas, there’s just not that much room on the sidewalk and people are walking and biking more and more,” Shlaes said. “As you see more people on the sidewalk and you’re trying to maintain six feet of distance and it becomes difficult to navigate that … We want to facilitate that safe environment for people to get exercise.”

Shlaes added that she hopes that the increased number of people getting out to walk and bike will promote future behavior changes.

“We don’t know when shelter-in-place will lift or what community will look like,” she said. “We hope people will hold onto the positive feelings they had with walking and biking around their neighborhood and want to do more.”


  1. > Cyclists Take Back the Streets During Shelter Orders

    Cyclists aren’t the only ones taking back the streets.

    “California Man Arrested 3 Times In 12 Hours But Repeatedly Released Due To Zero-Bail Policy”

    Is there anything different about law enforcement in San Jose?

    Proposition 47? Proposition 57? “No bail”.\?

    What’s the point of “law enforcement” anyway? Since San Jose now has a $45 million budget hole because of the coronavirus “emergency”, why not just retire all the cops right now and start paying their pensions?

    It would save on police “operations”, like gasoline for patrol cars. And ii would be less risky for perps since they would be less likely to be injured or frightened by an out of control police canine, And San Jose would have to pay fewer court judgments for ACLU or SPLC lawsuits brought on behalf of offended perps.

  2. Bicycles are extremely dangerous on City streets and should be banned and outlawed for public safety.
    We need a Coalition of California Commuters to take back our streets.

  3. My Brother has nearly been killed twice on his bicycle since last October. These are dangerous slow vehicles shipped in the to United States from places like China for the express purpose of killing young Americans that the Wuhan Red Death missed .
    These things kill more Americans each year than Assault Weapons and must be banned immediately.
    Destroy your bike, stay inside, eat all the food in the house. Wait for the dear leader to command you to go back to work next February 29th.
    We are Borg!

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