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If you've been traveling around San Jose, you may have noticed some new lanes on local streets. These lanes are part of an enhanced green bikeways project approved by the San Jose City Council, with construction to continue in 2013. This project is meant to get more cyclists on the streets, slow down traffic by eliminating motor vehicle lanes, and ultimately make the city safer for both cyclists and pedestrians. But, as some of the new bike lanes replace vehicle lanes, drivers who are not up to date on the latest developments could be at risk of causing bicycle accidents.

Cars only permitted in bike lanes under limited circumstances

By the time construction wraps up in 2013, nearly five miles of vehicle lanes will be removed, and eight miles of bike lanes will be added. The San Jose City Council approved removal of motor vehicle lanes on sections of Almaden Boulevard, Third Street, Fourth Street, Tenth Street and Eleventh Street. Bike lanes will also be added on sections of Notre Dame Street, and existing bike lanes on San Fernando Street will be enhanced.

The new San Jose bike lane project is certainly ambitious. Although large segments of the project were completed as early as July of 2012, some drivers are still adjusting to the changes. "None of us has ever encountered bike lanes that look like these new bike lanes, and we're unsure about what to do," wrote one motorist to San Jose Mercury News.

Under local law, cars are permitted to merge into bike lanes in order to enter parking spaces, driveways or to negotiate turns starting at 200 feet from an intersection. All other use of the bike lanes by motorists is prohibited.

Bicycle accidents still a concern

Bike lanes aren't going anywhere in San Jose; the city has a long-term goal to have 5 percent of transit be by bicycle by 2020, and to reach 15 percent by 2040. Although city officials are confident any kinks in the new system will be worked out shortly, not all San Jose residents are convinced that the plan to cut vehicle lanes and replace them with dedicated bicycle lanes is well-conceived.

"There's more traffic now, which means there's a possibility for more car accidents," local driver Armando Mateos told The Spartan Daily. "They gave too much room to the bikers I feel."

Although the new bike lanes are meant to ultimately make bicycle travel safer in San Jose, accidents are still possible, especially while drivers adjust to the changes. If you have been the victim of a bicycle accident, you should contact a San Jose bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible to pursue full and fair compensation for your injuries.

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