Sunday, December 21, 2014

Lincoln Avenue Road Diet/Lane Reduction; Street Safety Improvement
 — A Letter of Summary & Recommendations

Addressed to: Willow Glen Business Association


December 21, 2014


Tim Mulcahy
President, Willow Glen Business Association
1261 Lincoln Avenue
San Jose CA 95125

Dear Tim,



This will summarize key points in conversation that we had yesterday.
  1. For many years, the Willow Glen community has been concerned with trends of heavy commuter traffic, resulting with increases to traffic bypass and congestion; whereas, that’s in addition to those issues related to pedestrian and bicycle safety; accidents; plus, regular speeding in excess of 25mph, which goes against the standard for a neighborhood street that’s proximate to a business district and schools.
    These concerns were expressed as of November 20, 2014, which was at a community meeting with both Willow Glen Neighborhood Association (WGNA) and the Business Association (WGBA); therein, especially discussing and making note of the negative safety and accident effects that a road diet — if not properly designed —could have on local schools, business and general neighborhood street safety.  Specific concerns were mentioned about Lincoln Avenue traffic, such as what’s south of Minnesota Avenue to Curtner Avenue.  For example, newly approved developments will impact the neighborhood with at least 7,000 additional housing units in the very near future:  Tamien Station Area Plan/Transit Village; Communications Hill 2; Ohlone Towers; Fruitdale Station (final phase); Sobrato residential at Lincoln Avenue, between Parkmoor & Auzerais (final phase).
  2. Lincoln Avenue Road Diet Working Group ( RDWG ) held two closed-door, non-public meetings as of November 21 and December 4, year 20014.  These meetings were held privately — without community input — as referenced in the posted minutes, as seen here from WGBA:  http://www.willowglen.org/lincoln-road-diet
    San Jose Department of Transportation’s (DOT) presented a current draft plan and pilot program for the road diet/lane reduction, which is suggested for the area between Parkmoor and Minnesota Avenues.
    RDWG agreed, that for the pilot test to be successful, that the road diet/lane reduction must occur between Curtner and Coe Avenues.  The concerns are that a traffic back-up would increase the likelihood and risk of many motorists seeking an escape or alternate route from a gridlock, such as by diverting to nearby neighborhood streets that are perpendicular to Lincoln Avenue.
    Other concerns are with the safety of children at Willow Glen Elementary and River Glen School,. such as with exposure to particulate matter from idling cars.  Children, at such young age, are far more sensitive to, and at risk from, the pollution that’s created by excessive traffic, as well as idling cars.
    RGWG developed a list of issues to address, including: speed limit reductions; better signage; crosswalk improvements; traffic light timing, etc.
    DOT staff indicated that there may not be sufficient funds to expand the length of the test, such as from Coe to Curtner Avenues.  There are more costs involved than just striping the Lincoln Avenue; so, it may be cost prohibitive to expand the pilot program beyond Parkmoor and Minnesota Avenues.
    There is already a scheduled resurfacing plan for Lincoln Avenue in the autumn 2015 calendar, such as between West San Carlos Street and Minnesota Avenue.
    At the time of the resurfacing of Lincoln Avenue (between these two points) the cost of re-striping the surface — albeit for a road diet or return to original striping format — is already built-in to the cost of the autumn 2015 program.  There is no need to find additional funding, as it’s already covered.
    Stakeholders for a Safe Green Village (Stakeholders SGV) recommends that the test/pilot program begin at Pedro Street (at Los Gatos Creek), going south past the intersection of Minnesota and Lincoln Avenues.  This is so as to avoid complications at the Minnesota and Lincoln Avenue intersection; whereas, hopefully, the test will continue (southbound) past Pine Avenue, as far south as the budget will allow.
  3. San Jose’s downtown, and some of the adjoining neighborhood streets (i.e., those of Willow Glen) are within a four mile radius of the downtown core/urban area; whereas, “Vehicle Miles Traveled” (VMT) replaced “Level of Service (LOS) guidelines.
    Also, trips by bike tend to be shorter trips, (e.g., Park Avenue, Hedding Street bikes routes, etc ), as they are identified in Envision 2014 Transportation Goals and San Jose Bike Plan 2020’s “Primary Bikeway.”  San Jose has identified ten streets that have received a combination of city, state and federal funding, which pays for road diets/lane reductions.
    Funding for Park Avenue serves as a part of San Jose’s Primary Bikeway Network.  The San Jose Department of Transportation has secured three grants.  These three grants are from U.S. federal Community Design and Transportation; California state’s Bicycle Transportation Account;  U.S. federal Highway Safety Improvement Program; as well as California state’s  Environmental Services Department secured grants, which provide funding to install “green street treatments.”
Low cost recommendations improve safety and build wide-spread community support: 
  1. Lincoln Avenue Road Diet should go from Parkmoor to Curtner Avenue as a final implantation (beyond the pilot program), so as to minimize the negative impact on Willow Glen community, business district, neighborhood street safety, schools, traffic congestion, etc.  The road diet/lane reduction is to be fully implemented, with the allocation of funds.
  2. Due to current funding constraints, the road diet/lane reduction pilot program should only go from Coe Avenue /Pedro Street to Willow Glen Way; that is, to minimize the impact on Willow Glen Elementary School and to improve safety for children; since (if started at Minnesota), exposure to particulate matter is increased by back-up traffic. 
  3. Current speed limit between Minnesota and Willow Glen Way should be reduced from 35 mph to 25 mph. Currently, the area in front of the school is only 25mph when children are going to / from school; therefore, the reduction will (1) an increase to overall safety and (2) make the school crosswalk at Willow Glen Way safer; as well as (3) slow down traffic before the rest of the 25 mph business district; and (4) build road diet/lane reduction support from the school principal, PTA and parents.
  4. Current speed limit between Curtner Avenue to Willow Glen Way should be reduced from 35 mph to 30 mph while retaining 25 mph in front Willow Glen Community Center.
  5. Add a second Left Turn lane for Northbound at Lincoln and Curtner and before intersection
    Add a directional sign (with an arrow) directing motorists that are seeking a route from Curtner Avenue to Interstate-880 or I-280, to drive to Meridian Avenue and turn right towards Hamilton Avenue.
    At the northeast corner of Lincoln and Curtner, add a sign that advises motorists that the speed limit on Lincoln Avenue is 25mph, since the speed limit on Curtner, Hamilton and Meridian are all at 35mph, with multiple lanes.
  6. Apply for state and federal grant funds, which will include working with elected representatives, so as to obtain funding for recently passed, but unfunded, “Three Feet for Safety” law for bike lanes.
Sincerely 
Ed Rast & Richard Zappelli


Stakeholders for a Safe Green Village — Willow Glen

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