More bikes and pedestrians with Lincoln Avenue road diet

San Jose Department of Transportation counts 24% more bikes on Lincoln Avenue during road diet trial project.

I’m reading the San Jose DOT data collection report [PDF] for the Lincoln Avenue Road Diet Trial prior to tomorrow night’s public meeting regarding this project in Willow Glen.

lincoln ave road diet before and after

Wikipedia describes Willow Glen as a neighborhood in San Jose, California with “walkable tree-lined streets, people-oriented homes, diverse architecture, specialty shops, and independent businesses.” Many of those specialty shops are located on Lincoln Avenue, a north-south arterial serving under 16,000 vehicles per day.

The San Jose city council member representing Willow Glen, Pierluigi Oliviero, requested a road diet study for Lincoln Avenue in this shopping district. DOT agreed to a four-to-three lane reduction, in which the four lanes on Lincoln are replaced with three lanes as shown in the diagram above. With the extra space, DOT also added bike lanes. San Jose DOT collected before and after traffic data at 45 locations on Lincoln and surrounding streets to measure the impact this road diet has.

This project has split the community. Several residents and business owners in Willow Glen strongly oppose the road diet and want it to go away, claiming increased cut-through traffic on side streets and reduced traffic for businesses on Willow.

Road diet traffic study results

Here are the results of the SJ DOT traffic survey.

  • Traffic volume on Lincoln dropped by 500 to 2000 vehicles per day (depending on location), a change of three to 13 percent.
  • Traffic on most nearby streets increased by less than 50 vehicles per day, representing low single digit increases in traffic volume. DOT also measured significantly reduced traffic volumes of several hundred vehicles per day on several other neighborhood streets.
  • DOT reports 85th percentile speeds on neighborhood streets are mostly the same as before. Hicks Street is the exception, with a significant increase from 32.9 MPH to 33.6 on this 25 MPH street. Hicks also saw an 11% decrease in traffic volume.
  • Waze is evil.
  • Travel times on Lincoln increased a 27 seconds for A.M. peak northbound motorists. That’s a whopping 5% increase. Peak P.M. southbound remained unchanged. Intersection Level of Service also remained unchanged.
  • There was a 24% increase in bicycle traffic (which SJ DOT characterizes as “slight” in their report), and a 14% increase in pedestrian traffic (which SJ DOT calls “notable,” go figure)
  • “Only” 32 reported collisions over the past 24 months, so not enough data yet to determine how this road diet has affected safety.
  • Sorry, no data on transit use, business income or parking utilization was reported.

Speaking points for the public meeting

I’ve bike down Lincoln both before and after the road diet and I love love love the new configuration. I encourage you to sign the petition supporting this road diet, and attend Thursday night’s meeting if you can at 6:30 PM.

Here are some possible speaking points off the top of my head:

  • Four lane stroads are not warranted for anything under 25,000 vehicles per day, good grief. Lincoln serves under 16,000, and the traffic survey shows no significant change in traffic both on Lincoln and the adjoining residential streets.
  • SJ DOT report compares traffic volume on Lincoln with that on other narrow streets that depend on heavy traffic for business. These include Santa Cruz Avenue in Los Gatos and University Avenue in Palo Alto. These areas are known for their high-end retail.
  • You can play the FUD game, too. High speed arterials eventually become frontage for low rent businesses like bail bondsmen, dollar stores, pawn shops, nudie bars, questionable massage parlors, payday loan shops and fly-by-night used car dealers with broken neon signs. Is this faded glory really your vision for Willow Glen?
  • More foot traffic = more business! More car traffic = people just driving through spewing exhaust.
  • I think local business owners understand and even agree with the safety-for-pedestrians angle, but they fear the loss of business even more than they worry about some kid losing their life across the streets, so I’m not sure it’s worth mentioning.
  • Tell them about businesses in Redding, California. They also opposed a road diet because they feared losing business due to reduced traffic. The result over the past year for them has been the exact opposite of what they feared.


    mm-redding-1

The public meeting takes place Thursday, June 18, 2015 at the Willow Glen High School Cafeteria beginning at 6:30 PM. This location is served by VTA buses 82 (roughly 40 to 60 minute headways, last bus passes this location 9 PM) and 26 (30 to 60 minute headways, last bus here by 10:45 to 11 PM). Bike access is via Curtner or Cherry Road. I’m confident ample free parking was the primary factor in choosing this location.

6 Comments

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  • thielges
    June 19, 2015 - 4:58 pm | Permalink

    I think that the reason that the city study refers to the 24% bike volume increase as “slight” is because in real numbers the increase is small. The old 4 lane configuration was really hostile for bicyclists because it required taking the lane, something that most bicyclists are uncomfortable with.

    I’ve been riding Lincoln every day during the commute rush for over a decade and rarely ever saw another bicyclist on the street. There were plenty trying to ride on the narrow sidewalk though.

    It will take a while for the new lane configuration to attract bicyclists. And even with the improved lanes on Lincoln, they end at the intersection with Minnesota. So anyone bicycling to/from south of downtown Willow Glen will need to be comfortable with taking the lane and few bicyclists are. So the new bike lanes on Lincoln, while a great improvement, are a dead end for the majority of bicyclists. Extend the bike lanes further south of Minnesota and onto Minnesota itself and you’ll see way more than a 24% increase in bicyclists.

  • Anonymous
    June 20, 2015 - 4:23 am | Permalink

    I was at the meeting. Going by memory now, but I think you have the bike/pedestrain numbers reversed from the slide deck SJ DOT presented at the meeting. On the presentation slide deck it was 24% pedestrian and 14% bicyclist.

    At the end of the talk I spoke personally to the SJ civil engineer who was responsible for the data analysis. He stated even before they commenced the road diet trial there was no expectation of any significance in the increase of cyclists during the trial. In other words the 14% bicyclist increase was not a surprise.

  • June 20, 2015 - 11:26 am | Permalink

    Let’s see if I can embed the ped/bike counts from the traffic count as an image in a comment. If this doesn’t work, you can find the screenshot at https://www.flickr.com/photos/bike/18805703680

    Bicycle and Pedestrian counts Lincoln Avenue San Jose CA

    Bike count before = 180 bikes, after = 221 bikes. This works out to a 23% increase, so my earlier arithmetic was slightly off.

    Pedestrian counts went from 2150 to 2446, or a 14% increase.

  • Anonymous
    June 20, 2015 - 11:45 am | Permalink

    Richard, you’re citing the AM/PM peak periods (which I don’t have a problem with if you make that clear). Again I’m going by memory, but I think the SJ DOT was citing % change over the whole day in their presentation slide deck.

  • June 20, 2015 - 11:49 am | Permalink

    Ah, okay. I missed that.

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