How does northbound San Jose Avenue feel ever since it got a road diet and buffered bike lane? The SFMTA has launched an online survey where you can weigh in on the project. It’s your chance to let planners know if you think the street’s safer and calmer, and how it could be improved.
As we’ve written, the “Bernal Cut” finally got a road diet in June, following years of advocacy from neighbors who have pushed for traffic calming. Over 20 years ago, Caltrans invited more speeders to the street by adding a 280 off-ramp lane. Under the current pilot project, the SFMTA and Caltrans replaced of one of San Jose’s three traffic lanes with a buffered bike lane, matching the geometry of San Jose’s southbound side.
The agencies are measuring the traffic-calming effects of the change: if the number of drivers traveling faster than 35 mph doesn’t drop to 15 percent or less, Caltrans will test the removal of the second off-ramp lane it added in 1992 as a temporary measure.
San Jose has a speed limit of 45 mph, and before the redesign, 15 percent of drivers traveled faster than 48 mph (a figure known to engineers as the “85th percentile speed”). On the off-ramp, that speed was 57 mph.
The SFMTA said on its website that agency staff made some preliminary observations on how traffic was moving on August 13 “during both the AM and PM peak travel periods,” finding:
- The two new merges at the foot of the off-ramp, one with San Jose Avenue and one with Monterey Boulevard, are working well, and drivers are negotiating them with no visible difficulty.
- Motorists were observed driving in the bike lane, particularly between Milton Street and St. Mary’s Avenue. Project staff are looking into the travel patterns of these drivers and are exploring ways to mitigate this unsafe behavior.
- Congestion approaching Randall Street has increased, but has not affected the freeway off-ramp. Staff noted congestion on San Jose Avenue prior to the implementation of the pilot, and are currently measuring detailed queueing times. Additional wait time is only present for up to half an hour during the AM and PM peak periods.
This unremarkable picture doesn’t quite jibe with the carmageddon-like scenarios described by a few motorists who have jumped into the comment section on our June article, claiming it’s resulted in car backups a mile long. Of course, it typically takes months after street redesigns for changes in behavior to settle in, as drivers adjust and more people decide to try bicycling on the improved route.
In any case, the SFMTA needs to hear from a greater number of people to get a more complete picture of how San Jose’s working.