December 9, 2023
A reader shares story of encountering several parked cars on a ride with his kid

Q: Recently, my kid and I were biking to downtown San Jose to meet my wife, and hit a problem on South 2nd Street between East William and East Reed Street. There was a parked car, no driver, in the bike lane. We started to go around. Another car was illegally parked in the bike lane 20 feet in front of the first. We didn’t have to swerve into traffic, but it was stressful trying to get around these cars during rush hour.

It’s dangerous, especially for younger riders like my 13-year-old. My kid’s reaction? “Why would they do this? Let’s call the police.” I’m thinking 311 next time. I wonder if reporting this to the police would result in any action. I recently learned about California Vehicle Code 21211, which states that parking in bike lanes is prohibited, but see it all the time.

We just want a safe ride. Can we raise awareness on this?

Eric Snider, San Jose

A: Yours is one of many messages I received recently on this. The city is working on it. “Many of us in the DOT ride bikes for transportation and encounter it ourselves,” said Colin-the-city-spokesman. With many different obstacles, the answer is a bit complex.

Vehicles: Plastic bollards, parked cars, and concrete curbs that separate bike lanes from vehicle traffic are meant to keep car drivers out of bike lanes. Signs are increasingly used on new separated bike lanes for a few weeks after construction to help people get used to new patterns, but lanes are wide enough to allow street sweeping, which also, unfortunately, makes them wide enough for drivers to drive or park in. “We’re researching potential design solutions to address this issue, but have yet to find one that works for San Jose,” Colin said.

The city issued roughly 1,200 tickets for parking in bike lanes last year. New legislation, AB 361, will allow local agencies to install cameras on parking enforcement vehicles for video imaging and issuing citations for bike lane parking violations.

Trash containers and yard waste: Place cart wheels against the curb and keep them out of bike lanes, when possible.  Guidelines and an Environmental Services Department video on the city website show how this should work.

Debris: Leaves, trash, and other debris can be a significant obstacle in bike lanes. The city sweeps the lanes on major roads twice a month, and twice weekly on some roads. Hand cleaning supplements street sweeping when the city is alerted about broken glass or debris build-up.

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Please report any obstacles you encounter in the bike lane by calling 311 or visiting the city’s 311 website.

The city is compiling the complaints to identify problem areas and better understand what might help address them.

Look for Gary Richards at or contact him at [email protected].