Q Something has puzzled me. I read your column almost every day, and it amazes me how much time is spent griping on traffic conditions in the Bay Area. As someone who grew up in other parts of this country, I have seen new highways and privately funded toll roads developed at a much faster rate than here.
I have a simple question for your readers: Do you want to continue griping about traffic issues you control? Each and every one of us has the power to elect representatives who do what we want! If local officials won't listen to the needs of their citizens, vote for someone else. If you aren't willing to vote out the current folks, then stop griping!
Please, please, please publish this and see what type of response you get back.
A This is a fitting day to do so, as the Texas Transportation Institute has released its annual congestion report. For 2011, it ranks the Oakland-San Francisco area as the second most congested in the nation based on hours commuters were delayed in traffic -- 61 per year, matching the delay drivers in Los Angeles face each year. Got that? Many of us now face L.A.-style traffic.
The Washington, D.C., area is the worst in the nation at 67 hours of delay per driver, and New York is third at 59. The South Bay is 29th (out of 80 of the nation's largest urban areas) at 38 wasted hours.
Over the past three decades, Bay Area governmental leaders and voters have approved more than 500 miles of new highway lanes in the region, allowed solo drivers on two freeways to use carpool lanes for a toll, installed hundreds of metering lights and extended BART to the San Francisco Airport, with work ongoing to extend BART to the South Bay.
So, Manjul and anyone else, what other improvements would you favor?
Q Our school enrollment has recently gone through a dramatic increase, which is causing a traffic NIGHTMARE. I understand police are understaffed in San Jose, which is why they refused to help our elementary school combat overcrowded, unsafe traffic conditions in the morning and afternoon. We've met with the DOT, Safe Paths to School, the district superintendent, etc., and have done everything in our power to help the flow of traffic and provide a safer environment for kids as they arrive at school.
But there are many parents who refuse to listen to reason, become impatient and allow their small children to cross crowded streets while they double park, park on the wrong side of the street, block drop-off zones, etc.
I stand out at one of our drop-off zones each morning to help parents understand how the drop-off works (no parking, no double parking! Pull FORWARD!) and it's the same people every time who are putting their kids in danger. Recently my daughter and I were almost hit in a crosswalk because of a driver who didn't want to wait their turn.
My question (finally): If I get video or pictures of cars and their license plates while they are doing things they should be getting tickets for, will the police issue them a ticket? When I see 7-year-olds climb out of their car as their mom waves them across a drop-off zone with cars coming and going, it's all I can do to keep from screaming at them. Any suggestions? It's beyond frustrating.
A Indeed it is. Police will tell you that parents are the worst drivers in school zones and do all kinds of stupid things. But police must witness an infraction to issue a ticket, so it won't do any good to take video of bad driving moves. I suggest doing what my kids' elementary school did -- form a committee to address your concerns and send home to each parent a "rules of the road" brochure.
This week police throughout Santa Clara County will be participating in Operation Safe Passage -- the annual crackdown around schools. This will include monitoring children walking and riding their bikes to school.
Q When will the new Highway 101 lanes between the San Antonio and Embarcadero exits in Palo Alto be completed? Do you think it will help rush-hour traffic?
A The road widening -- auxiliary lanes between interchanges and a second carpool lane each way -- should be done this summer. And it has to improve conditions. Traffic can't get any worse, can it?
Have a gripe, minor annoyance or major problem with transportation? Look for Gary Richards at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow or contact him at email@example.com or 408-920-5335. The fax number is 408-288-8060.