San Jose Trail Program Strategic Plan

While the Trail Program has identified and documented 133 miles of potential trails, the Strategic Plan is focused on delivery of the immediate 100-mile goal in the most cost effective and efficient manner.

by City of San Jose - Parks, Recreation, and Neighborhood Services

This Strategic Plan has three purposes:

  1. Define the current state of the Trail Network and how it compares to other trail leaders

  2. Offer guidance on how San Jose can leverage its highly regarded trail network

  3. Lay out options for accelerating the pace and scale of remaining trail development

San José made trails a centerpiece of the City’s vision and planning efforts beginning with the 1999 Greenprint. Over time, the Trail Program has sharpened its focused on the goal of constructing a 100- mile interconnected trail network by defining 35 individual trail systems throughout the city. The City has encouraged this development by establishing the year 2022 for full development of the recreation and transportation trail network. While the Trail Program has identified and documented 133 miles of potential trails, the Strategic Plan is focused on delivery of the immediate 100-mile goal in the most cost effective and efficient manner.

Implementation of the Trail Program Goal began in earnest in 2002 when the City’s first full-time trail coordinator was hired to coordinate project development via a Collaborative Action Plan with the Santa Clara Valley Water District. Advancing the goal was made more measurable in 2007, when the Council adopted the San José Green Vision (a 15-year plan for economic growth, environmental sustainability, and an enhanced quality of life for its community). Now, at the approximate mid-point of the implementation timeline, 58% of the identified trails are open for use and about 90% of those trails are paved and meet Class I Bikeway Standards. In the past 9 years, trails have been developed at a rate of about 2 miles per year. This rate of development is less than the 3.3 miles / year rate necessary to meet the 100-mile goal. Under current conditions, the trail program goal will not be met until 2035.

In order to complete 100 trail miles by 2022, the Trail Program now faces the challenge of accelerating delivery to 5.4 miles per year. This faster pace of development is made more difficult to achieve because the remaining 42 miles are more challenging to develop than the first 58. Complex sites, riparian impacts, environmental regulations, cost and other factors present significant but manageable challenges. The Strategic Plan seeks to fully document and provide options to the City’s decision makers by examining and proposing strategies to address the financial, logistical, and organizational challenges associated with completing the remaining trail miles. The Strategic Plan pursues this task by:

  •  Identify implementation strategies that would allow the City to meet the Goal of creating 100 trail miles by 2022; and

  •  Create a process by which realistic strategies could be implemented on a year to year basis in order to optimize trail program implementation using available resources: and

  •  Offer guidance on changes to the Goal that support continued development of the Trail Program but with measures that are achievable with existing and/or increased resources.

Attached document published May 2016

About the Author


San José has hundreds of unique and breath-taking venues perfect for an outside day. Visit one of San José’s 200+ parks, hike along 60 miles of scenic trails or visit a regional park.

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