I was Just Riding Along at Lincoln Street from Benton Street in Santa Clara’s Central Business District Wednesday evening when I heard a horrific sounding crash just three blocks away on Benton at Monroe. A moment later, I heard several sirens converging on the area. KRON talks with a nearby resident with his proposals to improve traffic safety at this intersection.
The man in this story, David Dittman, lives on Monroe just a block off of Benton, where the collision happened when somebody (I don’t know who) violated the other driver’s right of way, resulting in an overturned SUV, a probably totaled sedan, and damage to road infrastructure and other private property.
This is a mostly charming residential neighborhood with well kept homes, but Benton and Monroe are both major arterial roads handling both regional and local traffic with aggressive drivers who ruin much of the charm and potential walkability.
I can believe Dittman’s claim of frequent collissions at this intersection, because from what I’ve seen several people drive waaay too fast and impatiently for conditions. Dittman’s solution to this safety problem? Faster traffic!
A left turn signal that he proposes may or may not be a reasonable solution, depending on the warrants. He also wants low radius turns so people can swoop around even faster, which is exactly the opposite of safety. KRON says an unnamed Santa Clara traffic engineer is also considering “adding more lanes,” which will also lead to faster traffic. Leaving aside the problem of coopting even more real estate for automotive traffic, I fail to see why changing an intersection to encourage even faster driving can even be considered a solution.
Benton is marked as a bike route in the Santa Clara bike map. Monroe Street is the only north-south through road with bike lanes between Los Padres Blvd (one mile to the west) and the Guadalupe River Trail (three miles very roundabout miles to the east, because there’s an airport, two Interstate freeways, and two or three more traffic sewers intervening). I hope any proposed changes to either Benton or Monroe are brought to the attention of the city of Santa Clara BAC.
KRON and Dittman have committed the classic blunder of applying Interstate highway design thinking (which are very safe because of controlled access) to local streets (which have cross traffic, turns, houses, parked cars, delivery trucks, people, trees, children, pets, bikes and Oxford commas). Adding freeway style design elements to residential streets is insanity. Don’t do it.
H/T to The All New and Improved Distict 5 Diary for the video.