The Mercury News

Ban SUVs and pickups during commute hours?

- GARY RICHARDS Join Gary Richards for an hourlong chat noon Wednesday at www.mercurynew­s. com/live-chats. Contact him at mrroadshow@bayareanew­ or 408-920-5335.

QHere’s the 800pound gorilla of road congestion. John Dannenberg San Jose

ACould it be metering lights, wacky traffic signals, outdated interchang­es, toll lanes, too many solo drivers, dive bombers, road boulders, low gas prices?

No, you say?

QMost folks lay the congestion nightmare on the increased numbers of single-occupancy vehicles. But there is a controllab­le factor that would reduce congestion 20 percent to 40 percent overnight.

John Dannenberg


QThat factor is vehicle length. A Prius, like many other compact cars, is 175 inches long. But the popular Ford F-150 truck is 248 inches; the Cadillac Escalade and its generic GM brethren are 224 inches. Four of these longer vehicles consume the space that would permit five Prii (the plural of Prius).

But there’s more. These behemoths are 2 feet taller, too, blocking the vision of drivers behind, causing them to leave more space to safely make speed adjustment­s in heavy traffic.

Simply put, if congested zones during commute hours were restricted to compact cars, the vehicle count would go up overnight by 20 to 40 percent. John Dannenberg A Interestin­g point of view. But do you really think banning big SUVs, pickups, etc. would ever be implemente­d? No.

Plus, sales of trucks and sport utility vehicles easily outpaced sales of all other vehicles in the United States last year.

Sales of small, midsize and large sedans fell by about 11 percent, but sales of pickups and SUVs shot up 15 percent — a trend that’s expected to continue.

Ford’s F-150 pickup was the best-selling truck last year, and marked its 34th year as the best-selling vehicle overall. Ford says SUVs could make up about 40 percent of the market by 2020.

This can only mean that Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner is a heck of pitchman.

QResidents in Antioch are furious at the waste and design lunacy with the new Hillcrest Avenue overpass and the Highway 4 ramps. After numerous shifts back and forth, the idiots now have added to already-backed-up traffic on Hillcrest. Pam Garcia Antioch

APam sent in a loooong email complainin­g about changes in lanes, new stoplights and several no-right-on-red signs.

Good news: Things may improve. Transporta­tion employees are in the process of timing signals along Hillcrest at East Tregallas Road/Larkspur Drive, at the ramps from Hillcrest to and from Highway 4 and at Sunset Drive/Slatten Ranch Road. This should be done by the end of this week and should improve traffic through the interchang­e.

But during commute hours it is possible backups could occur northbound on Hillcrest, given the sheer number of vehicles using the intersecti­on. The “no rightturn-on-red” signs were evaluated several years ago. The decision to prohibit these turns at various locations was to help keep the intersecti­on safe for all users, including pedestrian­s and bicyclists. Pam, check back in with me in another couple of weeks.

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