Making the Case for a Transit-First Street By Recording a Bike Ride

Commuting in the Silicon Valley is a nightmare, writes Richard Masoner at Cyclelicious, and that’s by design. For the last 50 years, housing and employment growth have occurred in separate areas. And with streets that prioritize car traffic above all, the trip between home and work has gotten progressively more miserable.

Masoner decided to give folks a view of what it’s like from a camera mounted to the back of his bike:

Experience a taste of 50 years of planning that assumes a car in every driveway for long distance commutes in this rear view video I shot from my bike on southbound San Tomas Expressway approaching El Camino Real last night. I originally intended a box turn for that left onto eastbound El Camino Real, but after I saw a quarter mile of stopped traffic I just filtered my way over to the left turn lane.

About 30 seconds into the video, I split the lane past the VTA 22 bus. The 22 and its limited stop cousin the 522 carry 20,000 riders per day, but these high volume, efficient conveyances carrying 50 passengers are stuck in the same traffic as the single occupant schmucks taking up nearly the same road space.

Until recently, planners’ primary response to this problem has been to add lanes to the San Tomas Expressway. But Masoner says he’s encouraged by the proposal for a high-capacity surface transit route that could finally end the cycle of wider roads and crushing congestion:

VTA (our county transportation agency) plans to build a Bus Rapid Transit system on El Camino Real from San Jose, across this part of the city of Santa Clara, all the way to Palo Alto. The preferred alternative for those who think systematically is a dedicated busway.

Here’s a rendering of what that would look like:

Rendering of the El Camino Real bus rapid transit proposal. Image via Cyclelicious
Rendering of the El Camino Real bus rapid transit proposal. Image via Cyclelicious

Elsewhere on the Network today: Comeback City explains how the Red Line light rail route will be an enormous connectivity boost for Baltimore. Wash Cycle reports that the drunk driving, texting, scene-fleeing bishop who killed a Baltimore cyclist has been indicted on 13 charges. And Systemic Failure shares a video showing just how far some people are willing to go to protect their right to the sidewalk or bike lane.

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