Tag Archives: Road Diet

Willow Glen Road Diet – Failure Update

bicycle rider on Lincoln Ave Willow Glen on 11 June 2016

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.

The following history and analysis of the Road Diet is published with the permission of Allen Rice – who submitted it to the City of San Jose last year. I added and corrected web links.

There is a Stand Up for the Neighborhood – End the Willow Glen Road Diet Facebook page for updates and discussion.

“Three Points”
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)

Expectations

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.

3-wheel cycle rider near Lincoln Ave Willow Glen on 25 May 2016

bicycle rider near Lincoln Ave Willow Glen on 13 June 2016

bicycle rider near Lincoln Ave Willow Glen on 12 June 2016

Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

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Willow Glen City Council Election, June 2016

Vote sign 7 June 2016

While the eyes of America and the world were on the contest for the US Presidency, our Willow Glen neighborhood in San Jose was locked in a passionate political race of its own. Our City Council seat will be opened up by term limits, so eight candidates ran for District 6 (Willow Glen) in yesterday’s election. In November 2016, there will be a run off between the two top-vote-earners, both of the women in the race: Helen K. Chapman (who earned 19.82%, with 3,247 votes) and Devora “Dev” Joan Davis (who earned 20.88%, with 3,421 votes). Four other districts held City Council elections yesterday but District 6 gathered the most candidates and the most votes (16,381 counted, with 52 of 52 precincts reporting).  These numbers are based on 70% of the Santa Clara County ballots counted.

I did not see even one sign out in Willow Glen yards for any presidential or senatorial or Assembly candidate (US or California) but all eight candidates in our San Jose City Council District 6 race generated much signage.  The most creative effort I saw was from candidate Reuben Navarro (or one of his supporters) who wrapped his car in political advertising (see photo below).

The Road Diet controversy was much discussed by the candidates and by Willow Glen.   Chapman’s statement on the Road Diet says that a full review is needed. Davis does not give a statement about the Road Diet on her website but on 31 March 2016 told the press she was waiting to see its impact.  Our incumbent City Councilman for District 6, Pierluigi Oliverio, proposed the Road Diet project in 2014 and it has probably been the most debated effort of his political career so far.  In yesterday’s election, Oliverio unsuccessfully ran for US Congress, earning just over 4% of the votes in the current count.

I understand from the San Jose Department of Transportation (SJ-DOT) 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).  The SJ-DOT reported in a public meeting on 18 June 2015 that the Purpose of the Lincoln Avenue Road Diet is to:

  • Improve safety for all users
  • Create a calmer traffic environment
  • Enhance travel for people walking and biking

Observation indicates that the Road Diet has failed in all three of its goals.  I am looking forward to seeing the data and analysis from SJ-DOT – and to hearing the two remaining City Council candidates address this vexatious local issue.

Click here to see the entire Willow Glen Road Diet Series.

Reuben Navarro car Lincoln Avenue Willow Glen 7 June 2016

Reuben Navarro sign Willow Glen 7 June 2016

Norm Kline sign Willow Glen 7 June 2016

Peter Allen sign Willow Glen 7 June 2016

Myron Von Raesfeld sign Willow Glen 7 June 2016

Chris Roth sign Willow Glen 7 June 2016

Erik Fong sign Willow Glen 7 June 2016

Devora Dev Davis sign Willow Glen 8 June 2016

Helen Chapman sign Willow Glen 8 June 2016

American Flag Willow Glen 8 June 2016

Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

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Willow Glen Road Diet Failure

Willow Glen Lincoln Avenue Road Diet Failure San Jose California 17 May 2016

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.

Willow Glen Lincoln Avenue Road Diet Failure San Jose California 19 May 2016

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Willow Glen Lincoln Avenue Road Diet Failure San Jose California 19 May 2016

Willow Glen Lincoln Avenue Road Diet Sign 2015

Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

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Road Diet Controversy in Willow Glen

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The Road Diet has caused a great deal of energetic debate in the Willow Glen neighborhood of San Jose, California, most recently among the 500+ who attended the public discussion at Willow Glen High School on 18 June 2015.  Most of the discussion was about:

  1. Bad for Business: The Road Diet trial has reportedly had a very negative effect on local businesses (particularly in the 0.4 mile downtown area on Lincoln Avenue between Willow Street and Minnesota Avenue).  Many small business owners at the meeting spoke of a significant decline due to customer frustration with traffic congestion.  Several spoke about shopping elsewhere to avoid the intermittent Lincoln Avenue gridlock.
  2. Good for Bikes: Several in the bicycling community reported their satisfaction at having a new bike lane, even if it does not connect yet to other bike corridors.
  3. Driver Frustration caused by increased traffic congestion on Lincoln Avenue was a common topic.
  4. Data, Analysis, and Interpretation: Questions were raised by many about Road Diet data – as well as concern about key elements (like accidents, pedestrian traffic, and parking) not being measured at all.

Here is a summary by the Willow Glen Business Association about the Road Diet:

In Fall 2014 District 6 Council Member Pierluigi Oliverio proposed that the City of San José Department of Transportation (DOT) implement a trial road diet on Lincoln Avenue in Spring 2015.   The trial was completed in March, April and May 2015.   You may read the DOT’s reports about the trial here:

What is a Road Diet? Watch this video to learn about road diets.

A recent news story “San Jose: Lincoln Avenue ‘road diet’ divides Willow Glen community” reported on how the Road Diet is polarizing this small community.

Council Member Olivierio wrote (in November 2014) that he backed the Road Diet to help the Willow Glen business district “…feel quaint, pedestrian friendly, and become a more desirable location to shop and stroll.” According to Interim Director Jim Ortbal of the Department of Transportation (DOT), the purpose of the Lincoln Avenue Road Diet was threefold:

  • Improve safety for all users
  • Create a calmer traffic environment
  • Enhance travel for people walking and biking

DOT staff reported at length on traffic volume and speed data for 45 locations in the Willow Glen area.  However, on 18 June, the DOT was not able to present information indicating success on any of the three goals.  For example, DOT said they could not report on safety because it would take one to two years of data collection to determine patterns.  When pressed, DOT staff said that there were about the same number of accidents reported to the police.  Some speakers (including myself) testified to the current situation causing dangerous traffic congestion and frustration for both drivers and walkers at certain times of day. Other members of the public said that they felt safer walking in the area as a result of the Road Diet. DOT reported a small increase in bikers but they did not measure walkers.

A group of four Stanford University Public Policy graduate students conducted their own Analysis and Recommendations for Lincoln Ave Road Diet.  Their recommendations were:

  • Clarify and prioritize the goals of the road diet to better gauge whether the road diet successfully achieves its policy objectives.
  • Determine the road diet’s impact on Lincoln Avenue businesses by gathering and analyzing pre- and post-diet data on business sales receipts.
  • Survey area residents to gauge perceptions of the road diet’s impact on livability.
  • Gather more pedestrian and bicycle traffic count observations over a longer time period to determine if the post-diet increases are statistically significant.

Some of the best suggestions I heard at the 18 June public hearing were:

  • Create a pedestrian scramble at both Willow/Lincoln and Minnesota/Lincoln rather than making walkers wait for two long lights.
  • Get rid of the Road Diet middle passing lane (that some were calling the “suicide lane” and others said was often blocked by parked trucks making deliveries), allowing just one lane in each direction, then increase the available parking with diagonal striping, and maybe widen the sidewalks at the same time.
  • Build a parking structure (for example in the now-empty lot on the corner of Willow/Lincoln) to reduce the number of cars circling trying to find a place to park.

The DOT is asking for a quick decision on the success of the 3-month Road Diet so that they can know what to do when they repave Lincoln Avenue in October 2015.

Click here to see the entire Willow Glen Road Diet Series.

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Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson

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