A long stretch of Moorpark Avenue and a short segment of Winchester Boulevard are scheduled for repaving as part of the city of San Jose Pavement Maintenance Program. When streets are re-paved, the San Jose Department of Transportation also looks for opportunities to implement city policies related to elements of the General Plan and Vision Zero.
To that end, the San Jose Department of Transportation proposes new bike lanes for portions of Moorpark Avenue and Winchester Boulevard.
DOT plans to add six foot bike lanes to either side of Winchester Boulevard along Santana Row and the Winchester Mystery House when they re-pave this road between Stevens Creek Boulevard and Tisch Way just north of I-280. The city will retain traffic capacity on the existing six lanes by reducing the lane width to current city standards.
Winchester is important because it’s a major north-south street providing access between residential and a huge commercial district in San Jose.
Moorpark is a little more … interesting. Most of the discussion at this meeting centered around Moorpark because some parking and a turning lane will be removed. The current configuration is five lanes: two eastbound, two westbound, and a center turn lane with pocket turns at major intersections. Street parking is available for the homes in the eastbound direction. The westbound direction is bounded by the I-280 sound wall.
DOT proposes reducing lane width and removing the center turn lane to make room for buffered bike lanes on both sides of Moorpark, resulting in two westbound lanes, two eastbound lanes, and a lane of curbside parking. In the Streetmix view below, you’re looking east.
SJDOT says modeling shows center turn lane removal will have no impact on traffic capacity, although it will delay people turning onto minor streets and driveways. At intersections, the pocket turn lanes will remain, so intersection level of service will remain the same. Of the thousands of street parking spaces available on eastbound Moorpark, up to 30 will be removed for daylighting to improve sight lines at uncontrolled intersections.
Traffic safety is currently pretty horrendous on Moorpark because the current lane configuration encourages speeding in spite of numerous intersections with poor sightlines. The narrower lanes should encourage safer driving behavior.
San Jose lacks east-west corridors for cycling, and adding Moorpark improves this east-west connectivity.
Complainers and Explainers
In spite of the less than trivial traffic impacts, of course some of the neighborhood wags showed up to complain, because change is horrible. In the approximate order I heard them:
- “Bikes impede traffic!” You can see how badly bikes impede traffic in this video I shot while biking to this meeting.
- In the very next breath, “I never see anybody use the existing bike lanes.”
- Then, “Who’s crazy enough to bike around here? You’re taking your life in your hands?” The whole point of the project is to improve subjective and objective safety for people who want to ride bikes to the numerous destinations on Winchester and Moorpark.
- When SJ DOT bike/ped planner John Brazil mentioned the city’s goal of increasing bike mode from its current one percent to 20 percent, the wags tittered loudly like poorly behaved bullying buttheads. Bikes outnumbered cars at this meeting, although “nobody rides bikes” in San Jose.
- The demographic most likely to die in a traffic collision on surface streets in West San Jose are people over the age of 65, which closely matches the demographic opposed to bike lanes at this meeting. These folks are losing their eyesight and there will come a day when they lose their driving privileges, regardless of legacy policies that force everyone to drive whether they want to or not. Nevertheless, they still need to visit the grocery store, ophthalmologist, endocrinologist, and kidney dialysis center.
- Most humorous question (regarding a proposed left turn lane on westbound Moorpark): “Why would anyone want to turn left here?” John Brazil’s completely straight faced answer, “People sometimes like to go home.”
- Moorpark traffic volume between Saratoga and San Tomas is 16,000 vehicles per day, which is right at the threshold of what three lanes can handle. Between San Tomas and Winchester, Moorpark needs the four lanes to handle the 24,000 vehicles per day that travel this segment. It’s worth noting that significant traffic is generated by people trying to bypass congestion on I-280.