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Traffic - the "in the know", "tongue in cheek" P.A. excuse or joke?

Original post made by Resident on Nov 13, 2007

It seems that anytime anything is mentioned here in Town Square, or in the real world out there, that every idea is given the put down of traffic.

Traffic is a reality of life. We are all in it at sometime, we are all affected by it at sometime, and we all live with it. Please let's stop traffic as being an excuse or a joke. Every city issue is connected to traffic whether it is people getting to somewhere, or by people worried about the amount of it.

Traffic is a fact of life - get used to it!

Comments (17)

Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 13, 2007 at 10:44 am

Translate "traffic" to "transportation", and then think about the myriad ways that "transportation" can be planned, modeled, cooperated upon, reduced through efficiencies, etc. etc.

Transportation is a fact of life; traffic - especially bad traffic - needn't be.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 13, 2007 at 8:22 pm

People make traffic, and they usually make the best choice of transportation. Those who want people to use alternative transit need to attract them with benefits, not drive them away from autos with obstructions as has been the Palo Alto way so far..

Posted by Doubtful, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 13, 2007 at 11:11 pm

I seriously doubt that anyone will give up their cars until it truly becomes like LA, and even then, I wonder.

This is a phenomenally wealthy community that is always in a rush.... they like to have single family homes, gardens, and no high-rise housing that might block their views.... leading to neighborhood sprawl and long shopping trips to the mega-super-duper-stores which require SUVs to haul it all home.

No one has "time" as it is let alone the time to be inconvenienced by public transit. And closing roads will just cause drivers to find alternate routes and create jams/aggravation/hostility. No, I seriously doubt that a real solution will happen until there is no other choice. We love our cars and the freedom they give us.

Posted by Joe Kott, a resident of another community
on Nov 14, 2007 at 7:59 am

Dear Town Square Readers,

I am conducting research for a doctoral dissertation on the topic of urban street design and the use of streets. My study includes evaluation and comparison of five to six block segments on each of six Bay Area streets: Castro Street in downtown Mountain View, California Avenue east of El Camino Real in Palo Alto, San Carlos Avenue in downtown San Carlos, The Alameda near HP Pavilion in San Jose, King Street near ATT Park in San Francisco, and Lombard Street West of Fillmore in San Francisco. The section of California Avenue I am studying is the commercial area from El Camino Real to Park (near Caltrain) and the section of Castro Street in my study is from W. Evelyn (near Caltrain) to Church in downtown Mountain View

I have collected considerable field data, but am also very interested in learning the views of those who use California Avenue and/or or Castro St. on a regular or even a sometime basis. I have created an online California Avenue Street Users Survey and an online Castro Street Users Survey, which can be viewed, filled in and sent back (all in 5-10 minutes) by clicking the following urls:

For California Avenue:

Web Link

For Castro Street:

Web Link

If you are familiar with one or both of these streets and are interested in offering your perspectives on them, I would much appreciate it if you would complete the online survey(s) . Many thanks in advance!

Best regards,

Joe Kott

In case either or both urls truncate in this post, please e-mail me at the following address and I will send you the full Surveymonkey link(s) for the street or streets in which you indicate an interest:

Many thanks in advance for your assistance.

Best regards,

Joe Kott

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2007 at 11:47 am

I like the idea of turning Wilkie Way into a bike blvd., but I hear it may cause too much traffic (or at least parking)

Posted by resident, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 14, 2007 at 12:28 pm

I like the idea of turning University Avenue into a bike blvd as well. This would also have the added benefit of moving traffic away from downtown.

Posted by Richard, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 14, 2007 at 12:37 pm

Traffic is a funny thing. Those who complain about it the most are the ones who create it. There is no such thing as "good" traffic; people say traffic is bad when there is a lot of it and good when there is none of it. Walter is almost correct when he says that people make the "best" choice. They make the most convenient choice, even when that has the worst consequences for society overall. As he says, we need to make the "right" choices more attractive.

Posted by k. t., a resident of another community
on Nov 14, 2007 at 2:04 pm

Growing up in PA during the 60's, and 70's was something that I feel fortunate about. However, I do recall that the traffic issues were a little different than what you see today.
For one, the air quality at the time was toxic for the school age children. I recall there was always a debate going on how to make PA a cleaner, and safer place to live!
There has always been a traffic problem in the PA area.
The prior generations complained a lot, but there is no evidence that there was any form of constructed action!
Our prior generations blew it! Why? Maybe they did not want to give up their status quo Caddy, or Olds!
Think about it. Today it is no different. The affluent have a need to be seen in their monster SUV's, BMW's, and over priced Nissan's and Toyota's.
Wake up everyone, and get out and do some research to learn how to get around without the car! If everyone is willing, than PA can eliminate their traffic issues!
Because of our "look at me adittudes", I, and many others from my generation will never move back to PA!

Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 14, 2007 at 3:23 pm

When you close off a street to traffic, where does it go? It doesn't disappear. It goes to other streets. People are not going to get out of their cars unless there's a practical and attractive alternative. Most of the folks who work in this area aren't on 9 to 5 schedules and Silicon Valley companies are spread out, so public transit – even if we had it – isn't always a realistic choice.

I applaud those who ride bikes, but not all of us can do that. And if you work 20 miles away, a bike isn't an option.

I see that Joe Kott is still watching us. He was the guy who wanted to put roundabouts on Embarcadero (backed by Mayor Kishimoto), gave us the bicycle tunnel at Homer, and thought he could narrow Middlefield Road in Midtown to two lanes – until he actually tried it!

Resident is correct. Traffic is a reality of life.

Posted by Not so fast, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 14, 2007 at 6:42 pm

Some people in PA (unfortunately many of them are our so-called "city leaders") think that if you narrow main arteries in the city to a single lane, then the traffic will just disappear, never to be seen on another PA street.
Other "city leaders" are only concerned with making sure there is no traffic on her street--where the traffic goes is not a concern--though this person is known to complain about every new development or building (i.e. the Stanford football stadium remodel as an example) will create "too much traffic".
then there are those city leaders who see the Homer tunnel as one of the crowning achievemnets of their tenure on the council--that boondogle cost us how much? and how many people use it in a day? oh yes, it was ready to open when our leaders realized that traffic coming from the tunnel would run right into traffic coming down Homer.
Quite the legacy

Posted by Catalytic-Converters-Changed-Things, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2007 at 7:02 pm

> The prior generations complained a lot, but there
> is no evidence that there was any form of
> constructed action!

The Federal Government got involved in the 1980s when it mandated catalytic converters for all new cars. The photogenic emissions were reduced from parts-per-thousands to parts-per-millions. Vehicles were no longer the source of smog-creating emissions in the great volumes which they had been in the past.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 14, 2007 at 7:55 pm

If mass transit here is like that in Merry Old, It is more energy intensive than private cars. In my 60 laboring years there was less than 3 months that Any mass transit system would have been of any use to me. Members of my family tried the waiting on corners and having connections missed, and ultimately decided that spending more than 30% of your working day just getting there was not worth it.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2007 at 10:45 pm

If alternate transportation doesn't make our lives easier in some real, measurable way, it will never succeed. It needs to have a net benefit through some combination of the following factors... time, money, energy (expended by the person, not gas), convenience, etc.

A friend back east suggested the following w/r/t Stanford's expansion... set up a light-rail that has parking lots/stations where we can all drive and park, hop the light-rail, and get off many stops later at the new ER with the hope that we're still alive when we arrive at their overcrowded facility.

Posted by pa_la, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 14, 2007 at 11:10 pm

Why do so many Californians drive so slowly and not use their turn signals? People are not well trained drivers here.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 15, 2007 at 4:13 am

If I used my turn signal would you pay attention? I do and you don't.

Posted by Midtown left-turn, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 15, 2007 at 5:29 am

>> Why do so many Californians drive so slowly and not use their turn signals? People are not well trained drivers here.

I use my turn signal. I "drive so slowly" because the speed limit on Middlefield is 25. There are blind intersections, bicyclists and kids going to school here.

You want a freeway? Try 101.

Just because my priorities are different from yours, doesn't make me a poorly trained driver...

Posted by Joe Kott, a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2007 at 7:19 am

Many thanks to all those who filled in online surveys via the urls listed in the note on my dissertation research that I sent along earlier. Great to hear from so many old friends too!
Best regards,

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