Q I had an idea driving home one day and thought you would be the ideal person to tell. With your connections at Caltrans, perhaps you can pass on my suggestion.

Don Lipari

A Today is the day for some wild ideas, and Don is leading off.

Q You've seen bicycle lanes painted along the right side of city streets. Why not create a painted motorcycle lane to the left of the fast lane on freeways? The main purpose of the motorcycle lane would be to provide a safer alternative to splitting lanes. For freeways that have HOV lanes, a dedicated motorcycle lane would be unnecessary.

If your contacts at Caltrans think that there is no room to fit a dedicated motorcycle lane on currently constructed freeways, I propose carving it out of the emergency access lane that is the innermost lane on almost all freeways. If an emergency vehicle ever needed full access to the emergency lane, it would be easy for a motorcyclist to scoot over to the right and let the vehicle pass.

What do you think? Is this a great idea or what?

Don Lipari

A Ah, no. I ran this by Mike-the-Motorcycle-Safety-Man and he says your idea is fraught with peril. It is illegal to drive in the center median unless there is an emergency. What if there is a car stranded in the emergency lane? Would you have time to avoid it?


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Added Mike: "The biggest problem is that his idea of a special lane to the left of the highway would be so different for motorists and motorcyclists that I suspect it would lead to an increase in accidents. In addition, many highways have no room to the left for a special lane -- Highway 17 and Highway 25 come to mind. And almost all freeways have carpool lanes that will become toll lanes."

Next wild idea?

Q While driving to Lake Tahoe, I came up with this idea that may be a little crazy but I believe practical to ease gridlock on our highways, especially for commuters from the Central Valley to Silicon Valley.

We have all seen these trucks that carry cars for dealerships. Why don't trucking companies start a business that would let commuters carry their cars on these trucks from a fixed place in the valley to a fixed location in San Jose? That way when people get off the trucks, they just drive to work and in the evening get back to the Central Valley the same way. That way there will be 10 less cars on the freeway for every one truck. This approach also gives them the flexibility of having their cars at work, in case of emergency or if they have a need to get back home early.

Trucking companies can charge a fixed amount monthly and the commuter is going to save money on gas, wear and tear and the stress of driving two to three hours each way.

Do you think this idea will fly?

Ahmed Masood

San Jose

A Ah, no. I tried finding a traffic expert to weigh in on this, and while a couple applauded your creativity, they said it too is fraught with problems. Where would the motorists sit? They can't ride in cars being carried like this. This would increase truck traffic on hilly roads like I-580 and slow down the commute ever more.

Q I have always wondered why one would build a dangerous highway over the Santa Cruz Mountains when once upon a time there was a perfectly good tunnel through the mountains.

A tunnel, you ask? Yes, there once was a San Jose-Santa Cruz railroad which went via Los Gatos through the gorge to Wrights, now at the bottom of Lexington Reservoir, and from there through a mile-long tunnel to Laurel and on to Felton and Santa Cruz.

The 1906 earthquake damaged the tunnel and put an end to the railroad line, based on the book "Earthquake Country" by Robert Iacopi.

Has anybody ever thought of rebuilding that tunnel? Just imagine how many accidents and deaths could have been avoided, had a tunnel been available.

Ulrich Krueger

San Jose

A The tunnel idea gets revisited every decade or so, but there is no serious effort to dig along 17.

Q You may think this is crazy, but I have an idea to free up our freeways: Pass a law outlawing solo driving. If there aren't two people in any car, that car cannot be driven during commute times. What do you think? A brilliant recipe for traffic relief?

Terry Graves

A A brilliant recipe for a bloody revolt.

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