Tag Archives: Willow Glen

Scary Crazies

Scary biker in Willow Glen CA 13 July 2016

Twice this week, I have been threatened by scary crazy guys. On 13 July, when John Plocher and I were driving home, we witnessed a bike rider threatening a woman and child on the street with a utility knife. Here is the story John posted on the Willow Glen Neighbor‘s group to warn people:

Just witnessed some really scary behavior driving home from dinner – a bike rider was threatening and swearing at a woman and her child waiting at the crosswalk at the Bird and Willow intersection, a man stopped his truck and got out to support the woman – at which point the bike rider threw down his bike and pulled a knife on the 3 of them. My wife called 911 as this was going on; I pulled out my phone and aimed it at him, telling him to drop the knife – at which point he hopped on his bike and rode away eastbound along Willow before dropping his bike at Tina’s and running. Nobody physically hurt – though I’m sure the woman and her child were terrified. San Jose Police Department is on it.  Here’s a picture of the bike rider – please be careful if you see him.

Then, on Saturday, 16 July, Laura and Jessica and I were driving to visit the San Antonio de Padua Mission near Jolon and stopped to look at some interesting rocks. A little way up the road, a crazy middle aged white guy in a parked white sedan started shrieking obscenities at us. When he got out of his car and started running toward us waving his arms violently and screaming, we went back to our car and locked the doors. He then returned to his car and drove off.

It is hard to know what to do during such events – trying to stay safe and keep others safe – and it is surprising how hard it is to describe someone when making a police report later. The incident is so upsetting, details like the color of the man’s shirt and backpack slip away. Somewhere between 4% and 18% of the USA is mentally ill – and about half of those who have a substance abuse disorder are also mentally ill (see “Mental Health by the Numbers” for details).  I think I met two of the more violent ones.

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San Antonio de Padua Mission near Jolon CA 16 July 2016

Katy Jessica Laura 16 July 2016

Image Copyright 2016 by John Plocher and Katy Dickinson


Filed under Home & Family, News & Reviews

Diplomacy and Community-Building

San Jose California City Hall, 28 June 2016

Just over a year ago, I was in Salt Lake City as one of the Official Bloggers from the Diocese of El Camino Real (ECR) for the Episcopal General Convention (GC).  At GC, I witnessed remarkable diplomacy and community-building, especially with regard to the historic approval of the very controversial resolutions to create marriage equality in the Episcopal Church.  The way this debate was managed has become my standard for excellence in respectful balancing of sides during heartfelt controversy.  An excerpt from my 1 July 2015 post:

“Marriage equality has been passionately discussed for 39 years in our church and even today there were serious, prayerful, and heartfelt objections raised.  Rev. Gay Clark Jennings (President of the House of Deputies, HofD) asked that the House maintain decorum and respect – as celebrations on one side could only be hurtful to our brothers and sisters taking the opposite view. Chaplain Rev. Lester V. Mackenzie lead HofD in prayer and song before each vote. Over a thousand people were present for this historic decision. We will be processing what is means to us and to our church for many years to come.”

In a highly-local and much less important community debate, on 28 June 2016, the San Jose Mayor and City Council voted to approve that the highly-controversial Road Diet be made permanent in my home neighborhood of Willow Glen.  This final decision was welcomed by many and deeply regretted by as many.  The way the discussion was handled did little to rebuild the community strength that the discussion has eroded during the last year. My husband John Plocher and I were among those who formally spoke against the decision, out of about a dozen citizens who were given one minute each to address the Mayor and City Council.  We only came away with a tiny win: as part of making the “Lincoln Avenue Pilot Project” permanent, the City Council also voted to ban adult bicyclists from riding on the sidewalks of Lincoln Avenue – a welcome change for the better!

I wrote on 17 June 2016  how the problems with the Willow Glen Road Diet sort into categories, of which one was Community Trust:

“The way that the Road Diet was managed caused anger and mistrust of city government among most of the people I interviewed.  …  Many Willow Glen residents are looking forward to electing a new City Council representative in November 2016.  Of the five problems, this loss of trust has the greatest destructive potential for our community.”

When I compare the diplomacy and sensitivity with which the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings managed the raging discussions last summer with the rough  “take it or leave it” style in which our local Road Diet controversy was managed, I feel that San Jose’s leadership does not shine.  I hope that now the decision is made, San Jose’s City Council and neighborhood groups like the Willow Glen Business Association (WGBA), and Willow Glen Neighborhood Association (WGNA) will start to rebuild the community peace that was lost to the Road Diet controversy.

WGBA Board meetings are open to the public: 8 am on the Second Tuesday of Every Month, at the Willow Glen Community Center (2175 Lincoln Ave., San José).

The next WGNA Board meeting will be Thursday, 28 July starting at 7 pm at the Willow Glen Public Library (1157 Minnesota Ave., San José). Meeting is open to Members and Residents.

Katy Dickinson speaking to San Jose Mayor and City Council 28 June 2016

John Plocher speaking to San Jose Mayor and City Council 28 June 2016

Candidate Dev Davis speaking in favor of the Road Diet, to San Jose Mayor and City Council 28 June 2016

Walk Your Bike. Make a Friend. poster, San Jose CA 28 June 2016

Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson and John Plocher

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Willow Glen Neighborhood Association Revived

Willow Glen Neighborhood Association Board 23 June 2016

On 23 June 2016, about fifty people attended the Willow Glen Neighborhood Association (WGNA) Board meeting at the Willow Glen Public Library Community Room.  The WGNA was started in 1973 and over the years has done some good work speaking on behalf of our community within the City of San Jose.  One of the most controversial topics discussed by the WGNA has been the Road Diet discussion which has sharply divided our neighborhood for over a year.

The San Jose City Council will discuss making the Road Diet (“Lincoln Avenue Pilot Project”) permanent at their 28 June 2016 meeting. Please join me there tomorrow if you want your voice to be heard on this contentious local issue.  The Lincoln Avenue Pilot Project report by the San Jose Department of Transportation (SJ-DOT) has been finalized and will be reviewed by the City Council at its 28 June 2016 meeting.

The 23 June 2016 meeting started with much confusion.  It seems that there was a WGNA meeting on 25 May 2016 that about six neighbors attended at which the 2016-2017 WGNA Board was elected.  WGNA has shrunk so much that six seems to have been a valid quorum.  Minutes of the 25 May 2016 election and Board Meeting were distributed on 23 June 2016, along with copies of the poster the WGNA Nominating Committee used to announce that meeting.  From what was reported,  it seems that some members of the 2015-2016 WGNA Board would not cooperate in announcing the 25 May 2016 Board election through WGNA email lists and website, so the 2016-2017 Nominating Committee did the best it could through other means of communication.  There are still debates going on Facebook over who said and did what when.  The 2016-2017 Board told us on 23 June 2016 about about closed-door Board meetings held during 2015-2016 about which there were no minutes posted (closed-door meetings are against WGNA By-laws and Policies).  As of last week, the 2016-2017 WGNA Board was still working to get access to the WGNA bank account and website.

After this distressing context-setting, the neighbors who came to last week’s meeting seemed more interested in seeing what can be done to repair our community than in continuing to fight about the past.  The neighbors supported the return of WGNA to being a grassroots organization.  Many of us signed up for committees to help resolve neighborhood concerns.  Key issues before the 2016-2017 WGNA Board include:

  1. Road Diet resolution
  2. Fire Department improved service coverage
  3. Evans Lane Housing Project for homeless people
  4. WGNA fundraising through sales of the Touring Historic Willow Glen book
  5. WGNA treasury, dues, and financial management in general

The WGNA 2016-2017 Board voted on 23 June 2016 to write a letter immediately to the San Jose Mayor and City Council asking for a postponement of any decision about the Road Diet.  The 2015-2016 WGNA Board was one of the strongest supporters of the Road Diet and on 13 July 2015 sent a letter to SJ-DOT endorsing it.  This 13 July 2015 letter is Attachment J of the 6 June 2016 Lincoln Avenue Pilot Project report.  The WGNA 2016-2017 Board will ask the city for a delay so that the circumstances and position of that letter can be investigated.

At the meeting on 23 June, I was glad to meet Helen Chapman in-person.  She is one of two candidates for the San Jose District 6 (Willow Glen) City Council seat being vacated by Pierluigi Oliverio.  Whoever replaces him will need to address the five categories of Lincoln Avenue problems associated with the Willow Glen Road Diet, described in my 17 June 2016 post:

  1. Traffic safety and speed
  2. Parking
  3. Bicycles
  4. Delivery Trucks
  5. Community Trust

John Plocher and I have recommended that since parking is the biggest concern to local businesses (and the problem least addressed), if there were at least two multi-storey parking garages added to Lincoln Avenue, it would change the dynamics of traffic significantly for the better and would eliminate many of the problems of the Road Diet. More information about this recommendation is in my 22 June 2016 post.

Willow Glen Neighborhood Association Meeting 23 June 2016

Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson


Filed under News & Reviews, Politics

Happy 100th Birthday WP668 Caboose!

WP668 Caboose 100th Birthday Cake 25 June 2016

On Saturday, we celebrated the 100th Birthday for WP668, the railway caboose where Mentoring Standard has its office in Willow Glen (San Jose, California).  Many friends and family and train enthusiasts joined John and me in cheering on our old train car.  You can read the history of WP668 on her website.

There were balloons and a cake and we distributed WP668 Caboose Con-Duck-tors (a rubber duck toy dressed as a train conductor) as party favors.  John gave tours of his N-scale model train layout in our former garage.  WP668’s birthday present was new night lighting along her roof line.

WP668 Caboose 100th Birthday Party 25 June 2016

WP668 Caboose 100th Birthday Party 25 June 2016

WP668 Caboose 100th Birthday Cake 25 June 2016

Eleanor and Jessica, WP668 Caboose 100th Birthday Party 25 June 2016

Paul and Natalie, WP668 Caboose 100th Birthday Party 25 June 2016

Eleanor and John, WP668 Caboose 100th Birthday Party 25 June 2016

WP668 Caboose at night 26 June 2016

WP668 Caboose at night 26 June 2016

WP668 Caboose Con-Duck-tors 27 June 2016

Images Copyright Katy Dickinson 2016

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Filed under Caboose Project and Other Trains, Home & Family, Mentoring Standard, News & Reviews

Suggestions to Improve Willow Glen Road Diet

San Francisco sign to Parking Garage June 2016

Although the pro-Road-Diet faction is distributing a handout declaring success, the controversy is still very active indeed here in Willow Glen.  The San Jose City Council will discuss making the Road Diet (“Lincoln Avenue Pilot Project”) permanent at their 28 June 2016 meeting. Please join me there if you want your voice to be heard on this contentious local issue.

Good news is that the Willow Glen Neighborhood Association (WGNA), one of the loudest advocates in favor the Road Diet – which has not held a WGNA Board meeting in over a year in violation of its own By-Laws and the California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation code 600b – has just scheduled a meeting for tomorrow night (23 June 2016: 7:00p.m. – 9:00p.m., at the Willow Glen Public Library Community Room, 1157 Minnesota Avenue, San Jose).  This is the first community meeting on the topic since 18 June 2015.

Note after publication: The WGNA changed their 23 June agenda to take off discussion of the Road Diet.

What Next?

John Plocher and I have been discussing what our own recommendations are in response to the unhappy Road Diet feedback we have heard this last year from local business owners.  The five categories of problems I described in my 17 June 2016 post are:

  1. Traffic safety and speed
  2. Parking
  3. Bicycles
  4. Delivery Trucks
  5. Community Trust

Of these five, parking is the biggest concern to local businesses (and the problem least addressed) in the current Road Diet improvements.  I was in San Francisco yesterday for a business meeting and noticed not only how many public parking garages there are (in addition to many private garages and lots) but how excellent the signage is to those parking garages (see photos).  On Lincoln Avenue, we have one public parking lot with minimal signage (behind the Bank of America building on Lincolnshire Way).  Several of the business owners I interviewed said that their customers did not know about this one parking lot.


  • Willow Glen’s central business area on Lincoln Avenue is 0.7 miles long (from Minnesota to Willow) with one public lot.
  • University Avenue in Palo Alto, where the central business area is 0.8 miles long (from Middlefield to Alma), has at least seven public parking lots and multi-storey garages.
  • Downtown Campbell lists ten parking garages and lots for their downtown.
  • Murphy Avenue in Sunnyvale is surrounded by large parking lots – including the lots for Macy’s and CalTrain.


  1. If there were at least two multi-storey parking garages on Lincoln Avenue, it would change the dynamics of traffic significantly for the better and would eliminate many of the problems of the Road Diet.
    • Additional public parking would make it easier for Lincoln Avenue lunch customers t0 get in and out – helping to reverse the current drastic reduction in lunch traffic described by so many business owners.
    • More parking would reduce traffic by the number of cars circling to find parking, and would help to keep Lincoln Avenue customers from parking on neighborhood side streets.
    • Getting cars off the street would also make more space for trucks to park for deliveries.
    • Public parking structures would also include more Disabled Parking Zones.  As you can see from my diagram, there are few Blue parking spaces on Lincoln Avenue now – and none from Lincolnshire to Willow.  There are Blue parking spaces in private parking lots – all clearly marked with signs saying some variation of  “Customer Use Only” (some of the lots have private guards to keep out non-customers).
  2. Add more and better signage to parking.
  3. Two areas to consider placing new multi-storey garages on Lincoln Avenue:
    • The fenced and empty dirt lot at Willow and Lincoln, across the street from Willow Glen Town Square
    • Behind the Bank of America building (which I understand was recently sold), where part of the lot is now available for public parking

Multi-storey garages need not be ugly: the structure at San Jose Airport decorated with artful hands is a good example of civic art combined with parking.

Lincoln Avenue Diagram

Lincoln Avenue Willow Glen San Jose CA June 2016 parking

San Francisco sign to Parking Garage June 2016

Lincoln Avenue parking sign at Lincolnshire Way Willow Glen June 2016

San Jose Airport Parking hands art July 2012

Welcome to Willow Glen sign San Jose CA June 2016

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

Images Copyright 2012-2016 by Katy Dickinson


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Road Diet Evaluation, and More Business Speak

Willow Glen Mural June 2016

Starting around March 2015, the Road Diet on Lincoln Avenue in Willow Glen changed a busy four-lane road with no bike lanes into a two-lane road with two bike lanes plus a turning lane in the middle. The San Jose City Council will discuss making this very controversial Road Diet (“Lincoln Avenue Pilot Project”) permanent at their 28 June 2016 meeting. Please join me there if you want your voice to be heard.

This is part of a series in which I use my professional experience in data collection and analysis to clarify our local discussion.  See my 17 June 2016 post for the 3 official San Jose Department of Transportation (“SJ-DOT”) project goals, plus the 5 problem categories I have identified through discussion and interviews.  In my opinion, the Road Diet has generally failed to meet its goals, particularly because SJ-DOT reported that there were 22 crashes during the last year, compared to 8 the year before.

This post has two sections:

  1. “Lincoln Avenue Road Diet Evaluation” by Bret Levine, 19 June 2016
  2. Selected Quotes on the Road Diet from 4 More Local Businesses

Lincoln Avenue Road Diet Evaluation by Bret Levine

Note: Bret Levine is a PhD student in Evaluation and Applied Research Methodology at Claremont Graduate University.

Since its inception, the Lincoln Avenue Road Diet has polarized support in both directions.  Though perhaps you’ve heard reasons for or against the Road Diet, I’d like to present my evaluation of the Road Diet through the lens of applied research. This began with my inquiry into the methods, measures, data analyses, and data collection processes that I noticed with the Road Diet since 2015.

Ethics as an Experiment

The Road Diet is a “trial” was described as an “experiment”. Therefore if we begin to treat the Road Diet as an experiment, we should hold its merits to similar guidelines in which we hold other experiments. Surely for the Lincoln Avenue Road Diet, a change in commerce that impacts such a wide array of people, we should hold the Road Diet to the strictest standards possible.

For guidelines on conducting ethical research many scientists and researchers nationwide will refer to the US National Institutes of Health (“NIH”), the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and health-related research. On the NIH website you can find a list of “Ethics in Clinical Research”, which is a set of ethical guidelines for conducting research that involves participants. Again, the Road Diet Trial is by no means a traditional “experiment”, however, this should not deter the use of ethical standards in experimentation given that real people (participants) are affect by the treatment (Road Diet). Additionally, the NIH guidelines are flexible enough to be used as guidance for applied research as well.

It is under the pretenses of these ethical principles that I have concluded that the process of enacting the Lincoln Avenue Road Diet and the measures used for analysis have led to the unethical treatment of those people affected:

  1. Social and Clinical value – The word “impact” is fitting for the road diet, given that commuters, cyclists, pedestrians, businesses, and Willow Glen residents are all affected by the change in the public space. In terms of research, the impact of the Road Diet might encompass many research questions, such as the five following. These are only a handful of questions that would need to be asked before an experiment is put into action. Each of these questions can then be operationalized for data collection so that there is actual information that can represent the answers to these questions. Few of these questions were answered from any of the methods chosen to analyze the results of the Road Diet.
    1. How does the Road Diet impact traffic in surrounding neighborhoods?
    2. How is safety on Lincoln Avenue affected by the Road Diet?
    3. What is the level of satisfaction for commuters, cyclists, and pedestrians?
    4. Are businesses better off as a result of the Road Diet?
    5. Are residence satisfied with the Road Diet?
  2. Fair subject selection – Those most effected by the Road Diet were not fully taken into consideration. Most importantly (as outlined later) was the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists which was not measured correctly.
  3. Favorable risk-benefit ratio – Neither the risks nor benefits of the Road Diet were presented with any factual substance during the formation or execution.
  4. Respect for potential and enrolled subjects – As quoted from the ethical guidelines: “For research to be ethical, most agree that individuals should make their own decision about whether they want to participate or continue participating in research.” This would directly contradict with the Willow Glen Business Association (“WGBA”) 10-4 vote against the Road Diet (“Willow Glen business group says it’s time to end the Lincoln Avenue road diet” June 2015 Mercury News article by Leeta-Rose Ballester), which was agreed upon to be upheld by Hans Larsen of the SJ-DOT via his presentation before the Road Diet would be put in place (“Lincoln Avenue Road Diet Trial” 15 February 2015).

WGNA Survey vs. WG Business Association Survey

The WGNA survey on the Lincoln Avenue Road Diet allowed for multiple entries from the same person(s). The bottom of the results page noted the removal of same-IP-address without significant changes to the results of the survey, however one can change their IP address simply by filling out the survey with their phone or computer on an alternate router or internet provided. Also, the same person can take the survey from alternate devices other than their own.

The Willow Glen Neighborhood Association (“WGNA”) so-called survey is not survey – it’s a bias measure of popular opinion, conjured from repeated button pressing. The fact that redundant IP addresses were controlled for doesn’t mean anything. You can change your IP address by joining another network.

The Department of Transportation (SJ-DOT) Data Collection Report (1 June 2015), provided conflicting results from the Willow Glen Business Association (“WGBA”) Road Diet Survey conducted by business owners, managers, and property owners. Both sets of results can be found here. The SJ-DOT survey described “notable pedestrian volume increases” (anecdotally – no numbers) while 130 business owners, managers, and property owners on the WGBA survey noted a negative change in the number of people coming into their business (m =2.33, n = 130). Other variables that may have explained the notable increase in pedestrian presence “after” the road diet were not accounted for – in particular time of the year was one such variable. The “before” Road Diet pedestrian volume was measured in February 2015 while the “after” Road Diet observation was made in April 2015. Obviously, these are times during the year that we may expect to see changes in pedestrian volume on Lincoln Avenue – either as a symptom of weather or merely change in season fromWinter to Spring.

Additionally, the SJ-DOT final report failed to provide collision data during the trial while the owners, managers, and property owners felt that the Road Diet was between “no change” and “a little less safe” (m = 2.69, n = 130) for drivers. Not only did the SJ-DOT report not include collision data, but emergency vehicle access as well as changes for vehicles and access for the handicapped were not included. Most shocking is that the main focus of the Road Diet was safety, yet those whose safety is most impacted by the Road Diet were not measured at all: customers, commuters, cyclists, pedestrians, and employees.

In addition to conflicting with the SJ-DOT final report, the WGBA survey provided additional results on the impact of business on Lincoln Avenue. In addition to reduction to people entering their business, owners and managers noted negative changes in satisfaction level of their customers (m = 2.24, n = 128) as well as negative changes in their bottom lines i.e. sales and revenue (m = 2.36, n = 128) as a result of the Road Diet.

Final Road Diet Results Presentation

Sections of the results presentation from the WGBA survey were not accurately presented. Arguably, pie charts do not take into account the embodiment of those that have responded to survey results and can arguably be misleading. For example, the pie charts included in the WGBA survey results grouped together positive and negative responses into 2 bulk categories. This does not take into account the sensitivity built into the survey that should be used to psychometrically represent the differences in opinion. Accompanied with averages (means) that I’ve provided at times in this post, help to capture an overall representation of the entire sample. At first blush, safety appears to have improved as a result of the Road Diet according to the pie charts in the WGBA survey (p. 4). Upon closer examination owners, managers, and property owners felt that Lincoln Avenue was between “a little safer” and “no change” for Pedestrians (m = 3.42, n = 131) and “a little safer” for cyclists (m = 3.62, n =131). These opinions are not represented in the analyses (“Willow Glen Business Association Survey of Members Regarding Road Diet Trial” 14 June 2015).


If the central research question is along the lines of, “How does the Road Diet impact residents, businesses, and commerce on Lincoln Avenue” the methods chosen to answer this question are vastly inaccurate. There are additional measures (focus groups, interviews, observations, archival data etc.) that could have been utilized to help answer questions, notwithstanding creating accurate surveys to capture sampled opinions. Additionally there could have been much more research – including actual data – on similar cases where Road Diets were put into place.

Questions that affect such a depth and breadth of people and resources should not be answered by shoddy measures and unscientific research. Cultural changes such as increasing cycling or walking amongst a community or city require a great deal of research and time before changes should be made. The people of Willow Glen are owed due scientific process and inquiry before such hasty decisions negatively affect their lives.

External Consultation and Conclusion

An external report by the Stanford Public Policy Program (“Analysis and Recommendations for Lincoln Ave Road Diet” 12 June 2015, by: Dev Davis, Misa Fujisaki, Miho Tanaka, Lucy Xiao) concluded similar results to my analysis: clarify the goals of the Road Diet, ensure that businesses are not harmed, survey residence, and gather more data on pedestrians and cyclists. The motto of both of our analyses is that more information is needed.  However, in regards to this letter, more information comes with a caveat.

Given the feedback from the strongest measures available (WGBA survey), conflict with previous methods (DOT vs. WGBA survey), and new light from NIH guidelines – ethically speaking on behalf of those impacted by the Road Diet – the Road Diet cannot continue until more information in collected and analyzed. The potentially detrimental effects (public safety and the harm on small businesses) on participants of the Road Diet should outweigh the potentially beneficial effects.

As agreed upon with Hans Larsen from the SJ-DOT, on 23 June 2015, the WGBA voted to end the Road Diet (this vote is recorded in a letter “Attachment I” of the SJ-DOT 6 June 2016 report to the San Jose Mayor and City Council), yet the Road Diet has been in place for almost 1 year since the “no” vote. The current existence of the Road Diet is in violation with the original agreement and could be in violation of the ethical guidelines for participants.

There is enough data now to analyze the effects that the Road Diet has had on those that have been impacted, whilst curbing any detrimental effects that have already been caused. The Road Diet was rushed into place without the forethought of research, the opinion of local leaders, the opinion of the Willow Glen residents, nor the opinions of local organizations and businesses. The safety and prosperity of the people of San Jose should be of the upmost importance whenever impactful changes are put in place.

Selected Quotes on the Road Diet from 4 More Local Businesses

Except as indicated, those quoted are either business owners or managers on Lincoln Avenue in Willow Glen, between Minnesota and Willow. My 17 June 2016 post includes 10 business quotes. Some people I interviewed wanted their opinions to be quoted using their names and others wanted to be anonymous. Several who asked to be anonymous said that Road Diet discussions had become so heated that they feared retribution or loss of customers. I have respected each interviewee’s preferences below.

    1. Vince (retail store in Lincoln Avenue): “Many store owners have stated that ‘The Road Diet’ has negatively affected their business on Lincoln Ave. The City Council seems immune to their numbers…i.e. sales. The Road diet seems to agree with many nearby neighbors who like to walk and or bike into downtown. Willow Glen needs customers from the surrounding areas to sustain businesses. They simply cannot survive on those who live within walking distance. Restaurant customers do not have time to come sit and eat in downtown Willow Glen. With the Road Diets traffic it simply takes too much of their lunch hour….restaurants have been affected indeed. Our retail store is a destination and our clientele now just deal with the headache of traffic and road rage now associated with the Road Diet. I have seen more accidents in the last six months with this new road design: people just losing it… driving too fast through the middle, cars rear ending each other from the stop and go motions all the way down Lincoln. Everyone thinks parking is a problem. However, many are not familiar with the fact that the Bank of America parking lot is and always has been free parking. I am upset at our local political representives in the way they handled this entire debacle called The Road Diet. We were lied to and mis-lead the entire time from City Council: saying that the Road Diet was a temporary trial; however, it is now permanent. It was basically shoved down our throats and there is really nothing we can do about it. Proof of declining sales within the businesses on Lincoln should have been enough. I’ve seen numerous social media websites where it now seems many local neighbors have mentioned that businesses against The Road Diet do not care about the people’s safety. People have threatened other businesses. Remember there are more accidents now that ever before…..and you want to talk about safety?? It’s a shame that we now have this anomosity of community vs. business owners.”
    2. Wayne Zhang (Taiwan Restaurant on Lincoln Avenue): “The Road Diet is not good for local business. People are hard to bring here with the Road Diet. There is not enough parking in this area. I have owned Taiwan Restaurant for about a year but the business started in 1982. Our business is impacted because the lunch traffic is not good. People worry about parking at lunch and on weekends too. Bikes are OK so far. Trucks parking in the middle turn lane on Lincoln Avenue is just not right, they block traffic. I don’t agree with the Road Diet.”
    3. Anonymous #7 (retail store on Lincoln Avenue): “I don’t see bikes using the bike lanes as planned, more people are on foot. Traffic can be heavy but the biggest customer complaint is parking. Solve that and there will be less traffic because fewer cars will be looking for parking. Adding a wider bike lane as a right turn lane on Willow/Lincoln helped traffic flow. Lincoln Avenue needs good signs for public parking – people don’t know where to go. I don’t know if the Road Diet caused it but business has been slower; this could be because of ecommerce. I love Willow Glen. It is a great community: neighborly with people who try to work together. I offer to meet customers at the curb to handoff what they bought so that they can avoid parking. There are not enough handicapped parking spaces for my customers to park on the street. I have senior customers who have to park far away and walk to my store.”
    4. Craig Gorman (Intero Real Estate – on Meridian Avenue in Willow Glen): “There are pluses and minuses to the Road Diet. The idea behind it was great but implementation and follow through on the plan has been weak. The original plan said there would be lots of parking and enhanced retail sales – more people would be driving past slower. This didn’t happen. The effect of the Road Diet varies on what the business is. I have heard less people talking about going to lunch on Lincoln Avenue, more are going to downtown Campbell instead because it is easier to get in and out. Willow Glen residents are predominantly in an upper income range. For them, it is OK to have a more expensive lunch but their time is limited. You can’t put a price on that – the decision where to eat is often based on time, not cost. I haven’t seen or heard of more traffic accidents. I was shocked to learn that the SJ-DOT reported so many more for last year: 22 accidents compared with 8 the year before.”

Happy Father's Day Willow Glen June 2016

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

Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

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Willow Glen Road Diet Report Analysis

Willow Glen, San Jose, California sign 19 June 2016

This is part of my continuing series on Willow Glen‘s Lincoln Avenue Roadway Configuration Pilot Project (“Road Diet“). These are observations from a detailed review of the San Jose Department of Transportation (“SJ-DOT”) publications on the Road Diet, looking at reports from the SJ-DOT from 2015 and 2016. Thanks to John Plocher  who assisted me with this review.

Please send comments, error corrections, or additions – they are welcome!  The San Jose City Council will discuss making the Road Diet (“Lincoln Avenue Pilot Project”) permanent at their 28 June 2016 meeting. Please join me there if you want your voice to be heard on this contentious local issue.
San Jose Department of Transportation, Road Diet Project Area Location Map, 6 June 2016
SJ-DOT Road Diet Project Area Location Map, 6 June 2016

San Jose Department of Transportation, Road Diet Volume and Speed Data Collection Location Map - Detail, 6 June 2016
SJ-DOT Road Diet Volume and Speed Data Collection Location Map – Detail, 6 June 2016

Analysis of the Road Diet 2016 Report from the SJ-DOT

Observations are listed roughly in the order that the information appears in the report.

  1. The Road Diet map of the SJ-DOT above shows the Project Area under consideration.
  2. A key finding from the 2016 SJ-DOT report is on p.4: “Based on the one year of ‘after’ collision data, it is inconclusive whether the modified lane configuration has had a measurable long-term impact on traffic safety… the total number of crashes was higher than the year prior to the pilot project.” That is, there were 22 crashes during the last year, compared to 8 the year before.
  3. My observations are limited to data inside the Project Area and Transition Zones which together are 1.1 miles long (Lincoln Avenue from Nevada Avenue to Lonus Street).  The Project Area without the Transition Zones is just 0.7 miles (Lincoln Avenue from Minnesota Avenue to Coe Avenue).
  4. There were SJ-DOT sensors (or “automatic recorders”) in a variety of locations inside and outside of the Project Area during the time of measurement.  Only two of SJ-DOT sensors were actually in the Project Area or Transition Zones: one South of Meredith Avenue on Lincoln Avenue, and the other South of Glen Eyrie Avenue on Lincoln Avenue.
  5. The SJ-DOT reports are full of detailed and confusing information from outside of the Project Area (measured because the SJ-DOT is responsible for more than just the Road Diet).
  6. On p.6 under “1B Neighborhood Street Traffic Volume and Speed Findings”, the report says most streets were unchanged but two were worse (two passed the threshold into “adverse”).  On pp.6-7 under “1c. Major Street Traffic Volume and Speed Findings”, both Pine and Minnesota showed a strong increase in speeders. That is, areas outside of the Road Diet area are less safe because of the Road Diet.
  7. On p.7 of the 2016 report, Travel Times are given for “the Lincoln Avenue Corridor” which is 2.64 miles long.  By more than doubling the area measured (from 1.1 miles to 2.64 miles), significant variations in the Non-Road-Diet sections distort the data and conclusions.
  8. There are only two indications of cost in the SJ-DOT report, both in the “Policy Alternatives” section on p.14.  One says that not modifying a traffic signal will save $65,000 and the other says that removing modifications to that signal will cost $15,000.  There is no indication how much has been spent on the Road Diet so far, including the long list of additional improvements already implemented (listed on p.10).  There is also no indication of what it would cost to remove the Road Diet or make it permanent.
  9.  The San Jose City Budget Message dated 30 May 2014 includes the following: “Pedestrian Safety …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.”  This is the only funding reference we have identified so far for the Road Diet.
  10. On p.17, “Calmer Traffic Environment” says that “motor vehicle speeds decreased on Lincoln Avenue”.  Looking at “Attachment B – Lincoln Avenue Volume & Speed Summary”, the average change in the Project Area was 7% decrease in volume, and the average percent of speeders in the Project Area went down 6.3%.
  11. The SJ-DOT data analysis does not define a margin of error, making it hard to understand if any of SJ-DOT’s reported measures are statistically significant.  Variations seen in SJ-DOT report tables for areas outside of the Road Diet are often much larger than variations inside of the Road Diet area.
    • Example of variation outside of the Project Area: “Attachment E – Lincoln Avenue Travel Time” shows a -30% to +82% change to areas outside of the Road Diet.
    • Example where margin of error matters: “Attachment B – Lincoln Avenue Volume & Speed Summary” show that volume and speed measures are down on average 4% in 2016.  This measure may very well be so small as to be within the statistical margin of error.
  12. “Attachment E – Lincoln Avenue Travel Time” shows for the Minnesota to Willow segment of Lincoln Avenue:
    • Northbound traffic was on average faster (22% less time or 35 seconds faster)
    • Southbound traffic was on average much slower (36% more time or 1 minute, 13 seconds slower)
  13. “Attachment F – Lincoln Avenue Intersection Level of Service Summary” shows that the LOS (Level of Service) is unchanged for the Lincoln/Minnesota and Lincoln/Willow intersections.  Both of these intersections are still “D” on a scale of A to F, where: A is less than ten seconds, and F is more than 80 seconds delay to get through an intersection.

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

Willow Glen, San Jose, California sign 17 June 2016

Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson, with thanks to the SJ-DOT for their maps

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