Q Ever since the addition of bike lanes on Hedding Street and the removal of one lane of traffic, I've been considering a letter titled "Why does Sam Liccardo hate me?"
A Sam-the-San-Jose-Councilman and avid bicyclist hates you?
Q We were subjected to Liccardo's bike-friendly touch a while ago on other downtown streets. My commute takes me on Hedding where the new bikes lanes have led to one fewer lane for cars, so I'm touched once again.
Hedding is a street definitely in need of calming -- not!
I use Hedding to bypass Coleman Avenue, which bottlenecks between Taylor and Hedding and is especially bad at rush hour. Bike traffic? Sure. I see perhaps one or two bikes a week using this stretch of Hedding. Thanks again, City Hall.
You suggest that the furor over these bike lanes has subsided, so perhaps the objections were overblown. Not so. We've just given up. Liccardo will achieve his bike-friendly city by eventually driving us out of the city core. He just needs time to insert more inconveniences for his mythical downtown bike traffic.
A Anyone else?
Q I was told you are one to contact for ranting and raving about San Jose. I can't see the reasoning behind these changes on Hedding, and in my mind, they are absolutely ludicrous. To put insult to injury, the lights are not adjusted to the flow of traffic at any given time of day.
I've completely altered my commute by taking Taylor Street. The route using Taylor is 1.6 miles further than if I take Hedding. I still arrive 10 minutes faster.
A OK, Sam, your turn.
Q Gary, forgive me if you've heard this before, but the bike lanes aren't about the bikes.
They're about pedestrians -- particularly kids and seniors -- and the neighborhoods. Whether there are cyclists in those lanes or not -- and yes, one important goal is to steadily increase the number of cyclists over time -- we're undertaking these "road diets" to supplant traffic lanes with bike lanes primarily to slow traffic.
Although cyclists love the bike lanes, the most enthusiastic supporter of the buffered lanes that we installed on 10th and 11th streets wasn't a cyclist; it was the principal of Grant Elementary School, Paulette Zades, where parents had to deal with kids having near-death experiences on a weekly basis as they walked to school.
Two months ago, 11-year-old Daniel Funk was hit by a truck while crossing Hedding, on his way to school at Peter Burnett.
Daniel is still in a wheelchair. I spoke with his dad recently, and we hope with the help of physical therapy, he'll be walking again in a couple of months.
I've heard complaints from the principal and parents at Peter Burnett about crossing Hedding for years. I understand drivers don't like sitting in traffic for another five minutes, but I don't want to see another Daniel sitting in a wheelchair for five seconds.
San Jose City Council
A But what about complaints from drivers?
Q To be sure, there are kinks that we simply have to fix. We're re-striping some downtown lanes to make it more self-evident to motorists about when they can turn into them. Nobody will applaud louder than me when they do that. Clearly, DOT needs to deal with the signal loop issues and the lack of synchronized lights along Hedding. But motorists also need to understand that the days in which we use downtown streets as urban expressways are over.
There are many words to describe urban communities bisected by 40-mph traffic, among them: blighted, unwelcoming to pedestrians and scary. Vibrant, appealing, healthy neighborhoods have sufficiently slow traffic to enable anyone from 8 years old to 80 to cross a street safely. Our urban neighborhoods have suffered long enough as the cut-through alternative for commuters looking to avoid freeway congestion.
A I'm sure there will be more of this discussion. For now, here is some good news. New pavement signal detection loops should be working in a week or so.