I don’t know the town of Los Gatos, CA, so I’m starting to explore it. I don’t have a full-on “Ride Every Road” project in mind for Los Gatos, but I’m hitting all of the arterials and collectors. Riding unfamiliar roads in an unfamiliar city really enable me to see how the newbie cyclist might get frustrated with the practical reality of getting from Point A to B.
Take for example, Garden Hill Drive at Lark Avenue. As far as I can tell, there is no legal way for a cyclist to make a left turn from Garden Hill Drive.
Here’s the Google Streetview for this location, looking northeast from Garden Hill Dr across Lark Avenue to the Highway 17 ramp. I want to turn left from here.
I sit with my bike on the traffic detection loop through a light cycle, and no joy. I then lay my bike completely flat on the ground to maximize the area of my wheel exposed to the induction current, and still no luck. Those fun “NO PED CROSSING / USE CROSSWALK” signs directing pedestrians to find the crosswalk on the other side of the highway prohibit crossing at this location. There is literally no legal way for a cyclist to make a left turn across Lark Avenue at this location, as far as I can tell.
I have two legal options:
- Walk my bike 100 yards contraflow on the narrow sidewalk on Lark to the crosswalk at Oka Road. (Sidewalk cycling is illegal in most of Los Gatos, and this sidewalk seems popular for joggers and dog walkers.)
- Make a right on Lark, merge across four lanes of fast and very busy traffic to the left side of a double left turn lane as I share the road with everybody merging onto and off of Highway 17, then pull a U-turn. This procedure takes a half mile and four minutes of waiting at lights at two intersections.
With infrastructure like this that practically invites lawbreaking behavior, it’s no wonder so many cyclists and pedestrians skirt the rules just so we can cross the street and get to our destination.
Maybe locals know the secret way to bypass this spot. Yes, I now know I can backtrack a mile to the Los Gatos Creek Trail, but I arrived at this intersection after failing to find the trailhead, and who wants to backtrack an extra mile on foot?
For those more familiar with the town of Los Gatos, is there a better way from Garden Hill Road?
The Los Gatos Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission seems fairly active and effective in obtaining grant funding. Does anyone know if they track traffic light fails like this? Since southbound Highway 17 dumps out onto Lark at this intersection, this is likely a Caltrans controlled traffic signal, which means dealing with Caltrans D4.