Sunday, the City of San Jose celebrated its second Viva Calle. This year they opened six miles of streets to play around in. The route ran from Japan Town in the north, to Willow Glen in the south and Midtown in the west. It was fun, but there were a couple of issues that we ran into. Therefore the rating of “Close, but no cigar.“ Mary and I joined the route near the Shark Tank, where flower marker three is on the map. We headed south to marker one on Lincoln Avenue. The day was hot, but the people were having a ball.
Viva Calle through the Industrial Zone
We continued turn south from San Carlos and headed down Lincoln Avenue. The light industrial areas weren’t too friendly for walking, as almost nothing was open and there were very few trees.
However, we discovered two stores at 460 Lincoln Avenue that completely distracted us.
Good Karma Bikes not only buys and refurbishes older bikes, but they have a monstrous collection to new and used bikes to choose from. They definitely need to be at the top of your list if you are in the market for a bike.
Oak & Cherry Furniture specializes in furniture that is hand made, from old wood, in their local workshops. It is a family operation, where the kids grew up sanding and painting to help with the business. They even have a connection to a local blacksmith, who makes a lot of the handles and such that they put on their furniture. Even if you are not looking for furniture, you might find it a very fun place to walk around and check things out.
In the Willow Glen area, the streets were packed. Lots of tents and exhibits to look at. I sort of felt sorry for the few businesses that were closed, as the potential for new customers, like us, was amazing.
No Cigar — Bike riders
My first complaint was about the lack of courtesy exhibited by many bike riders. There were a lot of good ones, but the bad apples were out in force. It didn’t matter what side of the street we were on. Large bike groups simply didn’t know how to maneuver around pedestrians. It made me think of the relationship between bikes and cars. In this case, the bike riders were in the power position and scared the walkers. Often, I would stop dead as a group approached from in front of me. There always seemed to be at least one rider who was so busy talking to his friends that he wasn’t looking forward, assuming the street was empty. Even scarier were the groups approaching from behind. They would pass within inches, at a high rate of speed, without any warning.
Mary and I reverted to the old, walk facing traffic rule, and spent most of the walk on the sidewalks, just to stay out of the way of the bike riders.
No Cigar — VTA
Initially, I thought VTA was doing an excellent job. Since we were planning to use route 64 to get home, I especially liked the signage showing the changes in the routes. Here is an example from route 82.
Unfortunately, they overlooked one aspect. All along Lincoln, at every bus stopped we looked at between Willow and Minnesota, there was a notice to go to Pine Ave. Pine Ave is only about 1/2 mile to the east, so that looked like a perfect solution.
There was just one problem. By the time Mary and I got to Minnesota, the temperature was around 91 degrees and we were getting tired. So, we headed east on Minnesota to catch the 64 on Pine. However, we walked the entire stretch of Pine to Willow without seeing any indication of a bus stop or a bus. How and where were we supposed to catch line 64?
Fortunately for us, line 25 was still running its normal schedule on Willow, so we used that to get home.
Missing component: When you move a bus route, passengers need to know where the new stations are located. Even if there were only two, at Minnesota and Willow, that would have helped. Waving at the bus, if one had come by during the time we were walking the route, and hoping the driver would stop, simply doesn’t appeal to me.
So close, but no cigar.