Q: I’ve learned that Hillsdale Avenue in San Jose is about to see some major changes. This includes eliminating one lane in each direction for a bicycle lane and eliminating the middle turn lane, which would limit left turns to just a few spots between the Almaden Expressway and Camden Avenue.
I lived 40 years before Hillsdale. The traffic has only increased. There are very few or no cyclists. Entering a cycle path will not change that. If the traffic becomes obstructed, it will be diverted to Foxworthy Avenue.
Apparently, slowing down traffic is the goal. That’s a good goal, but enforcing speed limits is the better way to do it. Eliminating left turns will result in residents driving on other streets to get home. There are a few accidents every year – bad ones – but they’re at the traffic lights, not in between.
Dana Tucker, San Jose
A: Hillsdale is one of the city’s 17 priority safety corridors due to its high accident rate. But there aren’t enough traffic cops to cover all areas. Therefore, the preferred approach is to reduce speed along Hillsdale on a street diet such as was done on Tully Road, Branham Lane, Lincoln Avenue, Winchester Boulevard, Pruneridge Avenue, and Moorpark Avenue.
The city says Hillsdale is oversized for traffic, meaning it has more lanes than required for existing and planned traffic. This will likely encourage some people to speed up in this area. By reducing the number of lanes, the city will “properly size” the road, making acceleration less feasible and less tempting, and leaving the space to add spacious, sheltered bike lanes.
The other concerns are accidents caused by unsafe left turns. Because of this, the city will be redesigning the left turns to reduce the number of potential conflicts.
The city will also add center islands to address unsafe left turns while allowing access in appropriate locations, adding a U-turn, adjusting traffic signals, putting yellow reflective borders on traffic signal heads to improve visibility, rebuilding the sidewalk, and highly visible zebra crossings to install crosswalks and make pedestrians more visible.
The work should be completed by the end of the year.
Q: Since the pandemic lockdown, more pedestrians have taken to the streets without looking for traffic. I ride bikes so they won’t hear me approaching, but considering how many hybrid and electric vehicles there are now that are pretty quiet, I think these people are taking their lives in their hands and maybe mine with them. It’s pretty frustrating.
Paula Hucal, San Jose
A: You raise a valuable point. We all need to pay more attention and slow down.
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