Local, alternative perspective. Insightful stories for the Santa Clara Valley.

LINCOLN AVENUE “ROAD DIET” TRIAL NOW INSTALLED; Willow Glen gets information and feedback

Lincoln Avenue road diet trial, installed as of Friday 27 February 2015.

Lincoln Avenue has now been temporarily painted-up and reconfigured as of Friday morning 27th February.  Because of an expected rain storm, the road diet jumped ahead of schedule by a day or two, ready to go over the weekend of 27th February to 1st March 2015. San Jose has set the stage for a trial performance of another one of its “road diet” projects in the city; this time happening in the Willow Glen neighborhood.

 

As said prior by de·Anza Post,  the road diet (or lane reduction) trial will be implemented at Lincoln Avenue, running its course from the intersections of Minnesota Avenue to Willow Street.  Yet, as it’s now configured, the road diet has actually been extended a few blocks, allowing for better transition areas.

As of  Monday 21st through Wednesday 25 of February, the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) had blasted off paint from the avenue’s original four-lane configuration; meanwhile, also tagging it with marks that prepared it for the upcoming reconfiguration.

Sometime during Thursday night, 26th February, temporary water-based stripes were painted on for the road diet re-design across the avenue.  Lincoln Avenue is now reduced to two opposing lanes; but, adding a center-turn lane (down the middle), plus bike lanes on both sides.

There are newly painted warnings appearing — boldly — just before the cross-walks:  “PED XING” (for “pedestrian crossing”).

 

The area involved includes the downtown Willow Glen shopping strip; which is also bordered by Willow Glen Elementary School at one end (Lincoln & Minnesota); plus, Riverglen School at the opposite (i.e., beyond Lincoln & Willow, just off of Broadway).

The avenue’s lane reduction is under a three-month trial; an initiative to bring traffic calming and “shareable streets” to downtown Willow Glen.   In that idea, safe and green spaces will be created for multiple modes of travel —  that’s including pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers.

In de·Anza Post’s last report (previously cited), it was pointed out there has been to some insights and criticisms from the public. For example, at the last February 12 town hall meeting, it was said or pointed out that:

  • Promotion and outreach about road diet meetings were both inadequate and untimely.
  • There’s lack of information provided about traffic studies around Highway 87 and Interstate-280, such as with the well-known commuter back-up and congestion.
  • There’s no estimate of cars from the Lincoln and Curtner Avenues inflow.

Residents are largely referring to developments around the neighborhood, which are impacting Willow Glen as traffic leads across the neighborhood.  They are concerned about Lincoln Avenue and its connecting or nearby streets. As these developments continue to have an environmental impact, the residents of Willow Glen realize that their neighborhood is a crossover, such as from Almaden to downtown San Jose and still further points beyond.

Residents asked questions and spoke up during the last town hall meeting on February 12th; but, they are still making their concerns known about the entire process.   That’s not just about the road diet itself, but everything that’s directly — or indirectly — related to it. Here are just some of the stated concerns as said at the last town hall meeting:

  • The speed limit on Lincoln Avenue should be lowered.  There needs to be more police to patrol and enforce traffic.
    •  It was said by city Councilmember Oliverio that the State of California sets the rules for the avenue, not the city.
    • Nevertheless (contrary to Oliverio’s advice), it is a shopping and pedestrian district, including schools on either side of the avenue.  In such cases, speeds are normally 25mph, if not lower.
    •  Stakeholders for a Safe Green Village, a neighborhood advocacy group, has called for the rebuilding of San Jose Police Department’s (SJPD) Traffic Enforcement Division, which apparently has a drastically reduced staff of motorcycle patrol officers, a key component of this division.
  • Willow Glen’s connecting streets — such as Pine and Meridian Avenues — have already become alternate routes.  Mass traffic includes Almaden commuters, pouring in from Almaden Expressway, Highway-87, and Interstate-280; whereas, this could create further back-ups on Lincoln Avenue and many of the other connectors.
  • Road signs and “transition areas” are supposed to prepare drivers of the lane reduction ahead on Lincoln Avenue; but, where that occurs is a point of contention.  Formerly planned transition areas were: north from Willow to Paula Streets; as well as south from Minnesota to Nevada Avenue.  Signs were previously installed, in order to prepare for what’s coming ahead.
    • The road diet trial configuration has already incorporated those previously said “transition areas.”  The road diet continues southbound beyond Minnesota Avenue to Nevada Avenue (although, as of Thursday afternoon, it’s incomplete, less the bike lanes).  The northbound area includes road diet configuration around River Glen School (at Broadway Avenue) and out towards Paula Street.
    • But, some residents question why drivers are not warned earlier, such as north at Parkmoor Avenue; as well as south on Curtner Avenue.
  • Turning onto Lincoln Avenue from Minnesota Avenue and Willow Street has already become congested and unsafe, such as when passing on the shoulder to go around corners.
  • The Willow Glen Elementary School’s parking area already has difficulties with ingress (entrance) and egress (exit); whereas, poorly planned lane reductions could hamper that further.
    • The road diet (lane reduction) area has since been extended just beyond the Lincoln and Minnesota intersection, addressing the school’s concerns.  Therefore, the lane reduction from four to two lanes does not occur in proximity to the school.   Moreover, the “transition area” is further out.
    • The parking lot can suddenly be 20 cars deep, with a backed-up line of drivers trying to get into (and out from) the school.  But, as of Thursday morning and early afternoon (before school exiting), this has yet to be observed.
    • This could impact the school’s safety zone, as well as carbon footprint.
    • Willow Glen Elementary must maintain its safety buffer zone around the school, such as for all modes of travel: pedestrians, bicycles, cars, buses.
  • Lane sharing will occur at the crossing of Lincoln at Minnesota Avenues, as well as at Willow Street.
    • Right-turning drivers will move towards the bike lane and curb.  They will share the remainder of the forward lane, at the left side of the driver, allowing for overtaking through traffic.
    • The center-turn lane will transition to a left turn lane onto Minnesota Avenue (as well as at Willow Street & Lincoln Avenue).
    • Going northbound on Lincoln Avenue at the cross of Minnesota Avenue, there are now two left turn lanes, as well as a dedicated straightaway lane.

IMG_1415

  • A “Vision Zero” ethic needs to be created for road traffic systems and improvements, thereby allowing no fatalities or serious injuries, especially at the cross-walks.
    • Acknowledging:  past deaths, near kills and life-changing injuries; poor visibility (especially at night); children at presence; retail zoning and distractions from left to right; unexpected occurrences; etc.
    • Accommodations should be made for Willow Glen’s farmers’ market that takes into account traffic calming and “complete street” concepts.
      — Compare nearby markets of Los Gatos, Palo Alto and Mountain View, all of them having “complete street” environments: equally accessible by walking, bicycling, driving automobiles, riding public transportation, etc.  Shoppers should be able to roam freely and safely by foot.
  • Bicyclists need safe traffic speeds and routes to other neighborhoods… inclusive of all ages, young and old.
  • “One less car on the road is a good thing” (moving away from the car-centric model).  Reduce  cars, reduce traffic.
  • Riverglen Glen School (at Broadway and Lincoln Avenues) is impacted, similar to Willow Glen Elementary School (at Lincoln and Minnesota Avenues).
    • The road diet configuration has since been extended across its cross-walk areas, making the transition area less of an issue.
  • Comparisons can be made to other cities, such as Marin Avenue in nearby Berkeley, where injury accidents were high, road diets were controversial, but — ultimately — successful.   Same can be said of many other projects across the United States, especially in San Francisco and New York.
  • There will actually be more space available to parallel park, than when Lincoln Avenue had four lanes.  That’s because a bike lane will be shareable lanes — allowing through traffic — as automobiles back to the curb.
  • Minnesota and Hicks Avenues will have worse problems if speed, traffic, and diversion issues are not adequately addressed.   (That could mean more accidents).
  • The traffic study should be extended, so as to provide better sampling of activities; but, also not biased from studies during transitional work and other “off” periods.
  • An emphasis should be made to create a more social and safe environment, including shared and livable streets for bicycles, pedestrians and other modes of transportation.
    •  “Getting people out of cars… that’s what creates community.”
  • Yellow curbs/ commercial loading only zones will remain; but, could be subject to reassessment.
    • The city may work with the Willow Glen Business Association (aka “Downtown Willow Glen”) to possibly relocate, but not compete with existing parking.
  • Bulb-outs or curb extensions should be installed at Lincoln and Minnesota Avenue, namely at the current site of Dolcetto Cafe & Market.
    • This will enhance traffic calming; but, also extend the sidewalk and reduce the crossing distance at what’s currently a very wide intersection.  This allows pedestrians — especially school children and parents with strollers, bicycles, pets and so on — to cross and approach vehicle drivers in a more safe manner.
  • Areas beyond the current road diet are also a concern, as drivers leave from Lincoln Avenue and Willow Street.
    • Progressing along the northern section of Lincoln Avenue, traffic speeds considerably increase.
    • There have been many severe accidents from Coe Avenue and out to Parkmoor Avenue.   This is the area near the historic Roberto-Sunol Adobe and Laura Ville House; as well as the Ranch Town Recycling center.

These are just some of the said concerns with regards to traffic calming and Lincoln Avenue’s road diet/lane reduction project.   In forthcoming reports, de·Anza Post will continue to discuss more issues, such as with regards to the management of public outreach and the community’s overall concerns with area developments.

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This entry was posted on Friday 27 February 2015 by in Eco+Urb, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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