Min­nesota Av­enue likely to be nar­rowed; bike lanes added

The Mercury News - - Local News - By Ju­lia Baum jbaum@ba­yare­anews­group.com Con­tact Ju­lia Baum at 408-200-1054.

SAN JOSE >> Min­nesota Av­enue in Wil­low Glen will be go­ing on a road diet this fall to ac­com­mo­date bi­cy­cle lanes.

But un­like the controversial Lin­coln Av­enue road diet that di­vided the Wil­low Glen com­mu­nity, the San Jose Trans­porta­tion Depart­ment’s latest pro­posal may get a bet­ter re­cep­tion if the sen­ti­ment at a Sept. 5 com­mu­nity meet­ing is any in­di­ca­tion.

Out of ap­prox­i­mately 100 peo­ple who at­tended the meet­ing at Wil­low Glen El­e­men­tary School, only one neigh­bor raised a hand when the crowd was asked who op­posed the pro­posed lane changes on Min­nesota.

The city wants to re­con­fig­ure the lanes on Min­nesota be­tween Weaver Drive and Alma Av­enue from four to one in each di­rec­tion plus a cen­ter turnout lane. Those changes, and the re­moval of on-street park­ing be­tween Lin­coln and Alma, would free up enough space for buffered bike lanes.

Coun­cil­woman Dev Davis, who rep­re­sents the Wil­low Glen neigh­bor­hood, said in an in­ter­view that neigh­bors have been ask­ing about a road diet on Min­nesota since be­fore she was elected.

“Peo­ple on Min­nesota, when I was cam­paign­ing, asked about adding bike lanes and slow­ing down traf­fic,” Davis said. “Af­ter I was elected, prob­a­bly in the first three or four months, other peo­ple con­tacted me about it and so I asked (the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion), be­cause I knew Min­nesota was go­ing to be repaved, if they would look at that pos­si­bil­ity.

“They did look at it and it was fea­si­ble, so that’s why we went out to the com­mu­nity.”

Adri­anna Jones, who lives near the corner of Min­nesota and Hicks av­enues, said she wel­comes the road diet on Min­nesota be­cause “there’s a lot of ac­ci­dents that don’t get re­ported there.”

“I’m all for keep­ing it two lanes all the way,” Jones said. “I think peo­ple use Min­nesota and Hicks as thor­ough­fares now.”

She said many peo­ple of­ten speed near her house “be­cause it goes from two lanes at Hicks and Min­nesota, then opens up” to four lanes.

“Folks seem to view that as a rea­son to speed up and they race,” she added.

The trans­porta­tion depart­ment ex­pects the same 11,774 cars to con­tinue trav­el­ing on Min­nesota dur­ing peak com­mute hours, but likely 2 or 3 mph slower and closer to the posted 30 mph speed limit. Neigh­bors on streets par­al­lel to Min­nesota shouldn’t no­tice any mo­torists us­ing their street as a de­tour.

Davis said she thinks the lane con­fig­u­ra­tion planned for Min­nesota is get­ting less heat from neigh­bors than Lin­coln’s did be­cause it’s along a res­i­den­tial route in­stead of through a business dis­trict.

“I think it’s more at­trac­tive be­cause peo­ple want traf­fic to be slow in front of their houses,” Davis said. “But also peo­ple want to be able to safely get to school, the li­brary, tran­sit. There’s an Alzheimer’s cen­ter right there, and the new ren­o­vated Three Creeks Trail is also go­ing to be able to be con­nected now with the bike lanes.”

A loss of street park­ing be­tween Lin­coln and Alma to make way for the bike lanes didn’t seem to phase res­i­dents at the meet­ing.

“I did hear from some peo­ple on the part of Min­nesota that will lose the park­ing, and they said, ‘We don’t park there any­way be­cause it’s not safe,’” Davis said. “Peo­ple don’t feel safe park­ing there be­cause you’re ba­si­cally in a lane of traf­fic when you park there.”

Trans­porta­tion staff sur­veyed park­ing in the area mul­ti­ple times and found just five cars parked dur­ing the peak hour of 11 p.m., so the city will be “tak­ing away park­ing not be­ing used any­way.”

“I live in that area and didn’t even know un­til we started this process that park­ing is al­lowed at any time on that stretch of Min­nesota be­cause I’d never seen a car there,” Davis added.

Davis said she’s “pleas­antly sur­prised” at the gen­eral re­sponse to giv­ing Min­nesota a road diet.

“Of course, not ev­ery­one is go­ing to want the change or like the change, but it was much more pos­i­tive than the ex­pe­ri­ence with Lin­coln Av­enue,” she said.

Staff will take all pub­lic in­put and eval­u­ate any pos­si­ble changes to make the de­sign more user-friendly. If all goes as planned, city work­ers will repave and re­stripe Min­nesota some­time next month.

JACQUELINE RAMSEYER — STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Bike lanes along Min­nesota Av­enue will be buffered in a plan re­leased by the San Jose’s Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion.

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