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Original post made
on Jan 17, 2013
I agree that this plan is extremely weak. Look at the bicycle & pedestrian plan that Palo Alto approved last year. They have a long list of specific projects that they plan to complete over the coming years. Mountain View's plan is more like "we need to think about doing something". Is a more comprehensive and detailed plan part of the timeline?
"Resident Don Bahl questioned the need for the plan. "Why do we have a BPAC and no automobile commission that would represent the 95 percent? This is tyranny of the 5 percent.""
I totally agree Mr. Bahl!!!!
Some people on the other hand are really ignorant, how can they think that narrowing roads will cause less pollution and less congested traffic? We need to have traffic flowing much better, not stop at every street corner.
What made the Romans so great, their roads. Like i said before, roads are like arteries and veins, the bigger one gets, the bigger they need to be. This reverse logic of narrowing roads is basically going against all logic. Our forefathers that build our roads knew this and that is why the roads are nice and big. To destroy this would create chaos.
There is a hidden gem of information in this story:
"...city staff sometime apply for grants for such projects, with the idea that the worst that could happen is the council will reject a proposal that has won a grant" ...Mike Fuller, public works director.
How much of what city government does is driven by city staff searching for grant money to spend, on projects contrary to the wishes of most Mountain View citizens?
Mr. Fuller, the 'worst' that could happen is we get a city council that isn't afraid of city staff.
Steve & Don made excellent points. The city has a commission that represents and advocated for bikes & pedestrians, but none for those who use autos. The 5% get a very disproportionate ear of the council and the rest of us get zip. I also agree that it would appear that outside forces, grant money for one, can influence the staff's recommendations. I don't believe that we elect city councils to take directions from staff, but to direct staff on behalf of the citizens they represent. This may be "outdated thinking" to some but it makes sense to a great many more.
I have to say, reading the above couple of posts is like being transported in a time machine back to 1955. Let's widen the roads! Quiet those annoying bicyclists and pedestrians who get in the way! Cut into the front yards of the homes in the way, or try and buy'em out, and bulldoze the ones that won't agree to sell! We need a good ol' fashioned roads commission because, by gum, if it was good enough for Dwight Eisenhower, it's good enough for Mountain View in the 21st century!
Fortunately, enough time has passed that most people realize that building our way out of congestion doesn't work (except maybe Don Bahl and Kman). Making roads more friendly for walking and biking, putting homes and businesses closer together, all make it easier for poeple to get around without clogging up the roads. This is how 21st century cities plan for the future. I'm glad Mountain View is moving in this direction despite the grumblings of our 1950s throwbacks.
Yeah! OMV Resident very well said. We are a small city and need to work toward a sustained safe quality of life for our community. Overgrown roads used by outside commuters is an outdated idea that is a proven failure. It is about time our city recognizes this. We need a serious road diet and speed decrease on many of our streets. Lets have a walkable, bikable community that supports our local businesses and gets us out of the car. Ourselves and our city will be healthy for it.
Mountain View is not a small city. It's pushing 80,000, and is part of a South Bay community that has several million. If it were 1955, we could have narrow roads...most households had only 1 car...if that.
That's not where we are. Further, I don't accept the 5% number. Perhaps it's close on a beautiful Spring day, but not most of the time. If I stand at the corner of El Camino and Shoreline, there's no way I see 1 bike for every 20 cars...not close.
There is a religion sweeping our Civic Planning processes that believes more people will make Mountain View a better place to live.... That more dense housing will provide a better life without cars ... That chocking the car networks and that if we make using a car painful will reduce car usage .... that more dense housing will reduce sprawl ..
But there is no place we can point to that this has worked! people means more cars, more congestion. Even in places like Asia where traffic is off the scale, people still drive....
What gives these new comers the right to legislate our car centric lifestyle away? We moved here to have relatively low density living, with free flowing car networks. If people want to live in high density areas.. move there! Don't suffocate our life style and force us to move to the outskirts of suburban spawn and build a new life for ourselves!
I am all for building a complete, safe, pedestrian and bike network, and even reallocating street right of way where that makes sense. But lets not simply make war on the car network.
It is noble to want to prevent sprawl, build complete transportation networks.... but the steps we have been taking are counter to those goals, and motivated by people making money on the changes.
Stop being so arrogant and naive! You are not the first one to come along with a brain. Your being sold a fairy tail by greedy corporations who want to profit from our loss of life quality.
@NoKoolaidPlease - I'm glad we can agree on one thing - that we need to build a complete, safe, pedestrian and bike network. The most problematic roads in Mountain View - El Camino, Shoreline, San Antonio, Central Expressway - were mostly designed in the 1950s and 60s and it shows. If you've ever walked for a couple blocks along those roads, ever tried to cross the street, you've seen how utterly hostile they are to pedestrians. Similarly for bikes. We need a new look at our roads to see how to make them acceptable places to walk and bike, not just whiz along behind the wheel.
@Small City-Not - I don't know exactly the source of the 5%/95% figures mentioned here, but I will point out that Shoreline & El Camino is not a representative example to choose to talk about where people bike in Mountain View, because those are 2 of the most bike-hostile roads in the city. If you observe Dana Street, or Grant Road, or Calderon, or Evelyn on a typical weekday you'll see a much larger share of bicyclists than at Shoreline&El Camino.
Maybe it will help to think of this as a math problem:
Imagine a finite area of roads and a finite number of people. Divide one by the other and each person gets a share of the road space, seems fair ?
Unfortunately that area is shrinking and so up goes congestion/pollution and the stress we all feel.
City planners have realized it is also possible to reduce the amount of space each person needs .... Just look at the comparative footprint of a car and a pedestrian/bike and it becomes obvious.
1 car with it's stopping distance takes the space of maybe 50 bikes or peds, and thats before you figure in the parking space costs at start and finish.
Not every journey can be done by ped or bike but each one that is, frees up space for the remaining cars. If you love driving you should be doing everything you can to persuade everyone else to ride, walk or transit... failing that, drive at night but dont think that your enemy is the bike or ped - they are your friend !
It's not a war on cars. It's about giving people comfortable, convenient options for getting around town without requiring a car for every single trip. Does it really make sense to have a street network that encourages, if not requires, people to drive 1/2 mile to the store or even two miles to work when they could walk or bike there instead?
Fast moving traffic and meager bike/ped facilities on El Camino, Shoreline, Central, Rengstorff, San Antonio, Charleston, Grant Road, California St, makes it uncomfortable, unpleasant and unsafe for people who want to walk and ride a bike instead of drive. And given how closely spaced these roads are, there are few trips people take that don't cross at least one of them.
"makes it uncomfortable, unpleasant and unsafe for people who want to walk and ride a bike instead of drive"
I don't disagree. But the point is those biking to the lions share of there destinations are a VERY small minority, and it's not right to drastically change roads in a way that would significantly inconvenience the LARGE majority to appease the VERY small minority.
If the entire bucket of destinations were within a 1 mile radius in Mtn View, the solutions might be different. That's not the case. The network of destinations and routes people take disperse all over the South Bay and beyond. And even those journeys that stay within a short distance of home often involve passengers (sometimes toddlers, sometimes elderly) or require toting something.
These blog discussions aren't likely to move the bar on people's feelings. For the most part, the car drivers will continue to drive; the bikers will continue to push for safer roads (I agree with "safer"...just not "reduced"). Most car drivers don't take the time to deal with these blogs. If the City ever seriously considered a road "diet" on a major artery, the Council would get a STRONG earful at that time.
Represent the 95% drivers? OK. How and what changes would that group be looking for?
Increased speed limits. Reduced pedestrian crossings, no bikes allowed on many roads, build more lanes, remove stop signs, create speed through zones. Eliminate crossings near schools to increase the speed in school zones...basically, make every road a speedway.
Oh yah, lets do all that. Pshhh.
Use of the word tyranny is an insult to whoever had to deal with ACTUAL tyranny.
Hey, the freeways are designed only with the 95% in mind. They seem to be working great...no congestion or slow down at all!(haha)
Of course the only way to speed up traffic on the freeways now is to decrease the number of cars. Maybe by making it more attractive to ride a bike and...DOH! There ya go.
@Small City - Not: The number of people walking and biking is a relatively small minority in part because it's so unpleasant and uncomfortable. This program is not just about making things better for people who walk or bike today. It's about about making changes that will draw more people to walk or bike. You don't need to eliminate every car trip, just reduce the overall number to have an impact.
And I agree that our destinations are more spread out than say in San Francisco or NYC. That's why bicycles are so important. In 10 minutes the average person can walk a 1/2 mile. In 10 minutes the average person can bike 2 miles. Bikes are perfect for suburbs, when the suburbs is willing to provide a safe routes to ride.
A lot of silly ideas being thrown out. Unfortunately the plan is being hijacked by a few people who have plenty of time to come to meetings to push their personal agenda on the rest of us and make car transportation worse. Most of us choose to drive cars and do so because its far more convenient. Those that want to walk and ride on streets are free. I drive, walk and bike around this town and see no problems if one is careful. To suggest that a large number of people would switch to biking and walking if we made it more convenient are dreaming and clueless about the population in Mtn. View. Does any one really believe a large number of seniors (>65), children (<10) and disabled people are going to choose to bike a mile or two to get somewhere? Bottom line these individuals representing special interest groups are selfish in trying to make if easier for them to get around and extremely intolerant towards the 95% that choose to make their lives more convenient by using a car.
@Political Insider - I often agree with your posts here on the Voice website on other issues because of the pragmatic approach you take, but I have to strongly disagree with the statement at the end of your post above: "Bottom line these individuals representing special interest groups are selfish in trying to make if easier for them to get around and extremely intolerant towards the 95% that choose to make their lives more convenient by using a car."
Right now, it is extremely inconvenient, bordering on unsafe, to simply cross the street or walk along a number of our main roads in Mountain View. Without exaggeration, it can take 5 to 10 minutes to simply cross to the other side of El Camino when you live on one of those long blocks without a crosswalk, such as between Castro and Calderon (unless you're willing to take your life in your hands and jaywalk). There are many things that can be done to improve conditions dramatically for pedestrians (bicyclists, too) such as adding the occasional signal on long blocks, that would GREATLY improve safety and convenience for people walking and biking while costing drivers almost no extra time. Because while it may take a pedestrian 5-10 extra minutes to walk down to the next signal, cross safely, and double back, going a similar distance out of the way in a car takes perhaps 30 seconds, a minute, maybe 2.
The selfishness and intolerance in this case is the 95% who choose to/can afford to/are able to drive being unwilling to sacrifice one minute on a trip to save the 5% five or ten minutes on foot or bike.
Recent news articles have started a trend toward trying to make our city safer. A car going 80 mph strikes a man who is waiting for a bus - very simbolic.
Can we idiot or maniac proof our city by engineering our streets? Would traffic calming cause someone like that driver to drive at the speed limit?
I wonder if basic traffic safety is still taught at kindergarten - red light/green light, how to look both ways before proceeding, etc. If so, it seems to be a waste of time, because parents wont practice safe driving/walking/biking.
As we keep being more and more tolerent of traffic incidents, such as speeding, jay walking, red light/stop sign running, etc.,more and more (and worse) incidents happen until we become alarmed at the number of fatalities...
Then, we try to engineer our way to safer roads..
One time, a ticket was issued to a person at a newly installed stop sign. The sign had gone up on a Monday, and that night, in the rain, the MVPD waited and wrote tickets to all drivers who ran the sign.
What happened to law enforcement? Get out there and write tickets!
@OMV you stated "Right now, it is extremely inconvenient, bordering on unsafe, to simply cross the street or walk along a number of our main roads in Mountain View. Without exaggeration, it can take 5 to 10 minutes to simply cross to the other side of El Camino when you live on one of those long blocks without a crosswalk, such as between Castro and Calderon"
I disagree. It is a exaggeration. I live in this area and cross ECR all the time. ECR ( and other large streets) are not for pedestrians to cross everywhere they want. They are not like residential streets. Adding more lights to cross on ECR will reduce travel time and increase congestion. The plan also suggests narrowing certain streets, which will also increase congestion. As a retired senior I walk a lot in the downtown area and dont have any problem getting around in town.
Vehicle speed and pedestrian fatalities are linked. The outcome of a driver-ped collision at 35mph is noticeably different than a collision at 25mph. According to data from the city's pedestrian master plan, a pedestrian hit by a driver travelling at 30 mph has a 40% chance of dying, whereas a pedestrian hit by a driver travelling at 40 mph has an 80% chance of death. The *posted* speed limit on our major streets is 35, and the design speed is clearly higher.
This is why speed matters and road design has a huge impact on behavior. Wide lanes, excess lanes, superblocks, and rounded corners all send cues to drivers that high speeds are acceptable. According to research by the Fed Highway Administration, design interventions such as road diets have measurable outcomes on road safety in numerous places around the country:
As the city grows, we have the opportunity to encourage more people to bike and walk since homes will be close to services and jobs. Analysis from the 2030 General Plan shows that proximity makes walking, biking, and transit very feasible. But, if the public streets are oriented almost entirely around driving, as they are today, people will continue to drive for short trips with the increased impacts of noise, pollution, and isolation that comes with large roads with high volumes of fast moving traffic.
Streets will need to continue to move cars, but the city must decide whether transportation policy will encourage more driving or shift to encourage alternatives to driving. We know what policy built around the car-dependent 1960's transportation status quo looks like: alienating streets, pollution, climate change, debilitating injuries (both for drivers and others), and limited access to mobility– you have to own an expensive piece of personal property to accomplish basic needs and participate in society; If you're too old, disabled, or poor, you're essentially excluded from many opportunities.
Moving forward, we have an opportunity to still accommodate cars, but build spaces that connect our city together, are healthier, and provide opportunities for more people. Or, we can continue with the same model from the 1960's.
Jarrett M: Engineering safer streets is a good part of a plan, but we can't engineer our way out of the mess that lack of law enforcement has put us in. In the real world of our streets, people are increasingly doing stupid, dangerous things with no consequences. (The driver who killed the man at the bus stop has plead not guilty)
If we concentate only on idiot proofing our city, we could end up with an expensve structure that doesn't work - a "Maginot line" Example - a jogger, wearing all black, at night in the rain, sprints across the street and is struck by a car - can such behavior be stopped by making a street narrower?
"As the city grows, we have the opportunity to encourage more people to bike and walk since homes will be close to services and jobs."
This is the crux of the fallacious reasoning. It's simply NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. It hasn't happened so far, and it's not going to happen in the future. Even if a few more walk/bike, that number will be dwarfed by the overall increase in residents, and the number of those incremental residents who drive cars. We should be preparing for that inevitable scenario if we choose to continue to grow. To act otherwise is naive.
One can continue to argue, "well, that's just you...others will see the light." I'm pretty sure there are 10's of thousands who feel similarly to me...whether they're proud of it or not...it's just their personal reality.
The whole business of narrowing lanes or removing them altogether stinks of special interest. The mass-transit lobby, whether financially interested or just socially drawn to the concept, have been unable to present it as a workable alternative to the automobile. Despite years of effort and countless millions of dollars wasted, VTA remains a farce. By making the city artificially impassable by car, perhaps they hope to become relevant.
There have been many references to "special interests", but many of the decisions being made are driven by policies established at the federal, state and county level. These are called "Complete Streets" policies that mandate equal accomodation for non-motorized users, and the policies apply to all cities. For example, see the Caltrans web page at:
They say there that:
Successful long-term implementation of this policy is intended to result in:
More options for people to go from one place to another
Less traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions
More walkable communities (with healthier, more active people)
Fewer barriers for older adults, children, and people with disabilities.
That doesn't sound like special interests to me. That sounds like something that is good for everyone.
"This is the crux of the fallacious reasoning. It's simply NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. It hasn't happened so far, and it's not going to happen in the future."
This simply is not true. It has already happened. Many articles have come out over the recent years about how ridership is UP on bikes, with more people choosing to ride and giving reasons that they do so because it has become easier/safer.
I know some don't want this to be true, but every report on cycling I see shows an upwards trend with more people doing it every year. That means less cars on the road for those who are driving, and that's a win/win unless you have some sort of anti bike ideology.
I drive 99% of the time but now ride sometimes as well because of the improved infrastructure. Until 3 years ago I was a 100% driver all the time.
Policies established at the federal/state/local levels aren't exclusive of special interest influence. In fact, much of the special interest resides whithin those government agencies. We are all motivated to protect our own best interest, bureaucrats are just in a stronger position to do it.
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