Traffic and Parking

What proposals do you have to alleviate the traffic and parking situation in Palo Alto? Response to Questions on Issues from my profile at SmartVoter.org (400 word limit)

The first priority is to not make these situations worse!

The first part of this is obvious: Avoid creating more traffic and parking demands. The second part is easily forgotten because there is so much pressure to be perceived as doing something: Carefully analyze potential solutions to avoid shifting the problem elsewhere and potentially making it worse.

For example, the VTA proposal for El Camino to dedicate a traffic lane in each direction to buses. While their presentation now acknowledges that significant vehicle traffic will be displaced to nearby streets, there is no assessment of those impacts. Adding traffic to already congested streets has disproportionate impacts. The GreenHouse Gas (GHG) savings from people switching to buses could easily be overwhelmed by the increased GHG from vehicles stuck longer on congested streets. That doesn't factor in the value of the time of people stuck in the congestion.

Some of that displaced traffic will wind up cutting through neighborhood streets, making them less safe for residents. How do you value that tradeoff?

The VTA proposal is based on the assumption that travel time along El Camino is the biggest barrier to increased bus usage. What I hear from people is that the key problem is poor connections at one or both ends.

Similarly, I am highly skeptical of the amount of resources City Hall wants to expend on cyclists wanting to ride along the major arterial streets. The vast majority of people I talk to don't want to ride on those streets. If changes to the arterials push more cars onto the bike boulevards and residential streets, isn't this going to be counterproductive?

In considering what is possible, City Hall needs to consider not just the technical aspects, but the political and financial impacts. For example, the primary benefit of Caltrain electrification is that it will increase capacity by allowing trains to run more frequently. The problem is that during peak hours Caltrain is already running near the maximum that doesn't create crippling congestion on the cross streets that would then spread to the parallel streets (Alma and El Camino). Grade-separation is needed to avoid this (de-synchronization), but while electrification has been budgeted, its prerequisite of grade-separation has not. Complicating matters is that the transportation needs of the Peninsula have been a poor stepchild to those of San Jose, both internally and moving workers from the East Bay to SJ.

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  • followed this page 2016-09-16 15:53:49 -0700