One of the reasons we at SVBC do what we do is because the bike has the potential to solve so many of our community’s problems. Health, safety, air pollution, personal financial sustainability – all can be addressed through riding a bike for every day use.

The bike is almost like magic in its ability to make so many problems disappear.

That’s why we’re excited to announce that SVBC was selected by El Camino Hospital Community Benefit Grants Program to work at the intersection of all these issues in a program called Pedal2Health. The program is primarily geared toward improved health through the development of lasting bike riding habits. That said, we at SVBC shun programs that are the equivalent of the single purpose appliance that takes up lots of real estate on the kitchen counter. (Apologies to all those folks who have a juicer on the counter top. We much prefer a food processor that can grate, blend, chop and do so much more, all with one machine!) SVBC intentionally designs programs that can accomplish many goals. In this case, Vision Zero work is one of the positive ripple effects that will come out of Pedal2Health and is what this blog expands upon below.

For those who have been following the worldwide efforts of Vision Zero (VZ), the bold goal to reduce to zero the number of fatalities and major injuries on our roadways, you also know that there are well-founded concerns about one of the components of VZ. Let’s pause for a brief refresher here: Vision Zero means we Evaluate, Educate, Encourage, Engineer and Enforce. All these E’s are intended to add up to safer streets for all users.

The E that causes concern is enforcement. Why? Imagine a community where we find through data collection, or in Vision Zero speak, “evaluation,” that our most dangerous intersections are in the poorest communities. And imagine that our poorer communities also contain high numbers of people of color. Now imagine that people of color live in a society that has and continues to be biased in both subtle and not-so subtle ways. Actually, these are things we don’t have to imagine because they are reality. This is bias that is present in many of us, like in the social worker making a judgment about whether to remove a child from a home, the teacher making a decision about which child is to blame after a playground tussle, the bike organization advocating programs like bike share that end up mainly benefitting upper income individuals, a hiring manager vetting candidates or a police officer enforcing the law.

For that reason, the enforcement E in Vision Zero is one that needs to be approached with a high level of caution. Pedal2Health will help.

In San Jose, the initial Vision Zero data collection showed that our most troubled corridors are predominantly in lower income areas. As a result, the City has wisely directed resources to fix those areas. SVBC is interested in working with the community to supplement those efforts and ensure that how we make our streets safe is done in a way that builds better communities.

Over the past year, SVBC has been teaming up on an ad hoc basis with affordable housing providers to give bicycle safety education classes. The Hospital’s grant will enable SVBC to ramp up those efforts with a focus on Vision Zero corridors. The program will work closely with the Nonprofit Housing Association to organize workshops and rides with affordable housing communities. And, the program will do this in partnership with the San Jose Police Department, leading rides and building relationships with the families and individuals who live in affordable housing. The goal of the program is to develop lasting and safe bike riding habits that improve human health while continuing to build stronger relationships with San Jose’s dedicated law enforcement officers.

SVBC is grateful to El Camino Hospital for their recognition of the bicycle as one of the most important tools to creating healthy families and individuals. If you’d like to get involved in the program, please contact SVBC at Colin@bikesiliconvalley.org