I have been speaking with Willow Glen residents and Lincoln Avenue small business owners this week about the controversial Road Diet. I have yet to meet anyone local who is in favor of the Road Diet; however, I have heard many stories about accidents and almost-accidents due to crowded and fast traffic on Lincoln Avenue.
I illustrated my Road Diet Failure blog post (19 May 2016) with photos of trucks parked in the center passing lane on Lincoln Avenue – a frequent traffic-blocking occurrence. This post is illustrated with bicyclists avoiding the two bike lanes on Lincoln Avenue – riding on the sidewalk among the pedestrians rather than in crowded road traffic. Also included is a photo of the 3-wheel cycle rider who often does dangerous trick riding on Lincoln Avenue sidewalks. I have never seen a cyclist cited by police for riding on the sidewalk.
The Road Diet Working Group website has not been updated in a year. I understand from the San Jose Department of Transportation that a full analysis of Road Diet crash and safety data will be made available by the end of June 2016, updating the most-recent report now posted on their website (dated 1 June 2015). I am looking forward to seeing current information.
There is a Stand Up for the Neighborhood – End the Willow Glen Road Diet Facebook page for updates and discussion.
by Allen Rice, 7 August 2015
1. Genesis of Lincoln Avenue Road Diet
(In the discussion that follows, WGNA is the Willow Glen Neighborhood Association. WGBA is the WG Business Association, DOT is the San Jose Department of Transportation, and RDWG is the Road Diet Working Group. Text in quotes was taken directly from the indicated document.)
5/21/14 Councilman Oliverio receives “Request from Kevin O’Connor from D.O.T. for Lincoln Avenue Pedestrian Safety Improvement” (Budget Document #4)
Mayor’s Budget Document Log numbers the request BD #4, and labels it “Pedestrian Safety Improvement.” (No date in document)
5/30/14 Mayor’s June Budget Message for Fiscal Year 2014-2015 again refers to BD #4: “The
City Manager is directed to allocate $45,000 in one-time Construction Excise Tax funding for this type of minor pedestrian safety improvement on Lincoln Avenue.” (2014-2015 Mayor’s Budget Document Log)
6/10/14 City Council meeting of 6/10/14, budget message appears as item 3.3. (City Council Agenda 06-10-14 Item: 3.3)
This shows the same text as before, $45K for a pedestrian improvement. (City Council Agenda June 10, 2014 Amended Agenda)
The budget was passed.
10/14/14 WGBA meets. Agenda shows an item which was to be “City of San Jose proposed bike lanes on Lincoln”. (WGBA Agenda 10-14-14)
Minutes of the meeting show this as item 5.f. The minutes show only one action resulting from this item, which was the rejection by the WGBA of bike lanes on Lincoln. In 5.f.ii,” Pierluigi Oliviero addressed the board to add that if we want to do a road diet study, let’s implement that now and judge the impact on the avenue. This is based on prior discussion of a Road Diet.” No vote on this is recorded in the minutes, no Board member is assigned an action item. (WGBA Minutes 10-14-14)
10/16/14 WGNA meets. (WGNA Minutes 10-16-14) Chris Roth, WGNA President provides this outline:
- “Pierluigi asking for 60 day trial
- Trial would cost $40k
- DOT would be running trial
- Northbound on Lincoln at Le Boulange would be squeezed
- Southbound on Lincoln at Aqui’s will be squeezed
- Asking for WGNA Yea or Nea
- WGBA meeting will have road diet drawings/renderings”
10/31/14 WGBA Executive Committee meets. Item 7 is “The Executive Committee recommends that the WGBA support the DOT proposal for a Road Diet 60 day test in spring 2015. This will need to be approved by the Board. ” ( Though the text in quotes was originally taken from these minutes, we could not find them on the WGBA website as of 8/6/15. The site was recently somewhat revised.)
11/4/14 Councilman Oliverio describes his plan to avoid the expense of an EIR [Environmental Impact Report] in a blog post on his District 6 website (“Lincoln Avenue – How Many Lanes?”) In this post, and in the context of a Road Diet discussion, he makes the statement “I put forward a budget proposal that was approved by the city council back in June 2014 to allocate funding for Lincoln Avenue improvements.”
11/12/14 WGBA Board meets. The agenda for this meeting contained an item, “Proposed Road Diet Test”, for Approval. We could not find this agenda as of 8/6/15. (WGNA Minutes 11-12-14) Road Diet as item 4 “The WGBA directed Tom Trudell and the Our Avenue Committee to get input from the community regarding the Road Diet. They met with Chris Roth, WGNA, Tim Mulcahy, and Hans Larsen and John Brazil with the DOT and Pierluigi Oliviero.” The Board voted to go ahead, and Tom Trudell was assigned to create and chair a Road Diet Working Group.
11/20/14, a Community Meeting on the Road Diet is held. Per a flyer about the meeting, WGNA was its sponsor. WGNA does not have the minutes of this meeting, and we have not been able to locate them.
11/21/14, the Road Diet Working Group holds its first meeting, with all members selected.(RDWG Minutes 11-21-14) Of 9 members, 5 are from either WGNA (President, Treasurer) or WGBA (President, Board Member, Our Avenue subcommittee Member).
2. RDWG Failure to Allow Active Public Input
The ad hoc Road Diet Working Group first met 11/21/14 to “Provide feedback to the City of San Jose’s Department of Transportation (DOT) on development of a road diet test on Lincoln Ave to be implemented in spring 2015.” (See minutes above) Among other items covered during this first meeting was a decision to NOT make these meetings public; rather, members were to “solicit” input from “their constituents”. Subsequent meetings were held on 12/4/14, 12/21/14, 1/23/15, 2/6/15, 3/6/15, 4/3/15, 4/29/15, and 5/29/15. (Minutes are available)
Minutes of the meetings show no record of any member of the public attending. Minutes of the 12/22/14 meeting show a request by community activists Richard Zappelli and Ed Rast to address the Group at some point. This was denied: “Peter Allen will communicate further with Richard Zappelli to let him know that the RDWG has thoroughly reviewed their submitted material and taken their recommendations into consideration.” (see 12/22/14 minutes)
The minutes for each meeting have the recurrent action item “All RDWG members will continue talking with their constituents for feedback to bring back to the group for discussion”.
3. Arbitrary Definition of Success and Scope
2/12/15 a second Community Meeting was held, with the DOT providing a written and PowerPoint description of the scope and methodology for the test. No objectively goals were provided in either source, against which success or failure could be measured. A Willow Glen resident, Allen Rice, asked what objective goals had been specified to measure the success or failure of the test. The DOT response (Jim Ortbal or Jim Bittner) was that it would be dependent upon “how people feel”. Instead of firm goals, a commitment was made, which appears in the handout for the meeting, that “If Either WGNA or WGBA officially oppose a permanent application of the road diet, the markings will be removed and Lincoln will return to its current configuration.” (Emphasis in the original, under “Benchmarks”, see minutes)
At its meeting of 6/23/15, the WGBA voted its “Final Recommendation to DOT: Do not move ahead with permanent Road Diet implementation.” (Last Item, see minutes)
The Road Diet has been accomplished by a small subset of the community, intentionally avoiding the “costly” formal process. Limited from the outset by a limited amount of “found” money, the “Test” was constantly limited in its scope.
The Willow Glen Community, was told from the beginning that the Road Diet was a TEST, with two possible outcomes. IF 1) both WGNA and WGBA felt the test was successful, then its results would go before the City Council for a decision on whether it should be made permanent. But, IF 2) either organization voted against, the 4-lane configuration would be returned and the Road Diet would NOT be presented to the City Council for action.
The manner in which the Road Diet was created is highly suspect. The WGBA voted against. Out of a due respect for process and community, we expect the street to be re-striped, in the original configuration, no later than October 2015.
Click here to see the entire Willow Glen Road Diet Series.
Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson