Our family has lived in Willow Glen for almost twenty years. It is a comfortable and neighborly area of San Jose, California with large gardens, good restaurants and shops, and charming architecture. Lincoln Avenue – the neighborhood’s downtown – is part of what makes Willow Glen a “San Jose Treasure”. Unfortunately, during the last year Lincoln Avenue has been inflicted with a “Road Diet” which has increased traffic and accidents while discouraging customers from shopping and dining in its otherwise-attractive small businesses.
I first wrote about the “Road Diet Controversy in Willow Glen” about a year ago and the situation has not improved. On 21 March 2016, there was a debate among seven of the candidates for the Willow Glen District 6 City Council seat at which the Road Diet was a major topic. Julia Baum of the Mercury News reported on 29 March 2016 reported:
“Candidates answered questions about eminent domain, job creation and the city’s widespread homeless population, but the discussion about the Lincoln Avenue road diet highlighted the evening. Most of the candidates supported permanently keeping Lincoln Avenue to one lane each way and not returning to the original four-lane configuration.”
I do not understand why the failed Road Diet is so popular with Willow Glen’s political leaders (and candidates for political leadership). During this last year, I have spoken regularly with Lincoln Avenue small business owners who are to a person upset at their loss of business due to heavy and dangerous traffic combined with too-little parking. One small business owner told me that in her own observation, Lincoln Avenue accidents have more than tripled this year (eighteen accidents since the five reported by the San Jose Department of Transportation “SJ-DOT” at the 18 June 2015 public hearing). The SJ-DOT web page has posted no more current information since “Lincoln Avenue Road Diet Trial” slides from that public hearing. I have a call into the SJ-DOT office to see if I can get better information.
The SJ-DOT reported on 18 June 2015 that the Purpose of the Lincoln Avenue Road Diet is:
- Improve safety for all users
- Create a calmer traffic environment
- Enhance travel for people walking and biking
As you can see from the photos (taken this week), big trucks routinely park in the Lincoln Avenue middle passing lane to make deliveries, reducing what was a four-lane road in early 2015 to a two-lane road with two bike lanes now. Neighbors have told me that traffic on side streets around Lincoln Avenue (between Willow/Minnesota) is heavier and often dangerously fast – because drivers are trying to get around the traffic jams downtown. I walk down Lincoln Avenue most days and dodging bicycles on the sidewalk is a frequent hazard. I have been told that many cyclists do not want to use the bike lanes because they are too dangerous with all of the traffic.
Considering its stated Purposes, the Road Diet seems to be a complete failure.
Click here to see the entire Willow Glen Road Diet Series.
Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson