Sam Liccardo and Strong Neighborhoods Religion

Sam Liccardo represents the downtown district on San Jose City, CA City Council and is known as San Jose’s most bike friendly councillor. He, along with San JOse’s new transportation director, have pushed heavily for improved bike infrastructure throughout his district.

This includes the new bike lanes along 3rd / 4th and 10th / 11th Streets.

Each of these pairs of streets have freeway ramps directly to and from I-280 south of downtown. Many commuters use these surface streets to bypass perpetually congested traffic on the nearby north-south freeways in the area. Here’s a map of downtown where I highlight 4th Street and 10th Streets.


San Jose Downtown shortcuts

The area just north of San Jose International Airport is a major job locus in the region with probably 50,000 jobs in the eight square mile area bounded by Brokaw Road, Hwy 101, Lafayette Street, I-880 and Highway 237. Significant numbers of these workers commute from the south and southeast, resulting in the twice daily logjam on I-880, Highway 87, and Highway 101. It’s no wonder hurried commuters try to find shortcuts. It wouldn’t surprise me there’s a plan to convert these into freeways somewhere in the archives of Caltrans District 4. They completely obliterated San Jose’s Little Italy, after all, when bulldozers razed the entire neighborhood to build the Guadalupe Expressway. This Expressway eventually became the elevated Guadalupe Parkway (Highway 87).

Downtown Neighborhood Expressways

As you can see on the map, 4th and 10th are fairly direct routes across the downtown area. People live along these shortcuts. It maybe wouldn’t be so bad, except the sociopaths driving to and from work treat these neighborhood streets like expressways, accelerating up to 50 MPH between lights on portions of the road signed for 30 MPH.

I’ve heard complaints from people who resent the recent street calming measures on these streets. Councillor Sam Liccardo addresses those complaints very directly in yesterday’s Roadshow column in the Mercury News. I added the emphasis.

We had justifiable complaints from residents along 3rd, 4th, 10th and 11th that their neighborhoods had been reduced to urban expressways, and they couldn’t allow their kids to walk in the neighborhood with high-speed traffic. These roads were an urban planning disaster, segregating neighborhoods, creating blighted conditions and driving down home values.

I know plenty of folks outside of the downtown gripe because they can’t speed through downtown at 45 mph anymore. That’s exactly what we wanted to eliminate, and what any neighborhood has a right to expect.

Frankly, I think there’s a bigger picture here: If the media is going to punish cities like San Jose for taking risks to implement more progressive transportation infrastructure, good luck getting any of our smaller cities and towns to ‘catch religion.’ We’ll be stuck with six-lane boulevards and jammed freeways for many decades to come. Let’s give this a chance to work or not, and then allow for fairer judgment.

Read the full discussion at Mr Roadshow: New bike lanes not only reason for traffic delays in San Jose.

2 Comments

  • December 18, 2012 - 5:25 pm | Permalink

    I’ve expressed to Sam before that I want to see more and better infrastructure in/around downtown, especially to/from downtown — as opposed to within downtown, where the infrastructure is of _much_ less value — and he basically told me, “Well, back me up.”

    We need a stronger coalition — i.e. a coalition to exist — of people willing to back up Sam and other councillors that actually want to do the right thing. I don’t think we have that yet. I think we could.

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