Letter to Campbell on Modern Transit Society letterhead.

May 20, 1991

Campbell City Council
70 North First St.
Campbell CA 95008

Subject:  Request to repeal ordinance 10.20.030 B   (Discrimination against transit patrons, pedestrians and bicyclists).

Dear Mayor and Council Members,

In Jan. 1990, we made the request to repeal ordinance 10.20.030 B, and this item went before the Council.  Upon staff recommendation, this matter was referred to the County, and then the matter was dropped without even giving us a reply.  Therefore, we again request that the ordinance be repealed. 

While travel by automobile is verbally discouraged, and while non-polluting, non-congesting forms of transportation are verbally encouraged, the laws that do the exact opposite have, for the most part, remained intact.  In 1965, traffic engineers convinced the Campbell Council to prohibit pedestrians and bicycles from San Tomas expressway.  Just seven years prior, traffic engineers convinced officials to liquidate the electric trains that ran across the Bay Bridge and throughout the East Bay (even though the trains carried more people than automobiles carried on the bridge).  The purpose of prohibiting electric rail transit, pedestrians and bicycles was to maximize the market share of automobiles in the transportation market.

Ordinance 10.20.030 B only applies to San Tomas expressway.  (Although it also mentions state freeways, these are not in the jurisdiction of Campbell.)  It prohibits transit patrons from using the bus stops.  It prohibits pedestrians from using the crosswalks (intersections have four crosswalks).  It prohibits bicyclists from using San Tomas.  It prohibits pedestrians from walking on the wide shoulders. 

Pedestrians and bicyclists cannot be prohibited from the part of San Tomas between Camden Ave. in San Jose and Camden Ave. in Campbell (which was originally part of Camden Ave.).  While traffic engineers destroyed the pedestrian and bicycle facilities here, peoples’ freedom to travel cannot be abridged.  Interestingly, this section of roadway once had a streetcar line that was also destroyed because special interests coveted the streetcars’ right-of-way for additional lanes of polluting automobiles.  (The traffic engineers’ lack of regard for pedestrians and bicyclists is also demonstrated by their destruction last year of the sidewalk and shoulder on Montague Expressway, even though pedestrians and bicycles have always been and continue to be allowed there.)  Both the County Trails and Pathways Committee and the Cambrian Council voted unanimously that these facilities need to be restored.  Enclosed is a proposed plan for doing just that.  Because the City has jurisdiction, the City does have the power to order the County highway engineers to install pedestrian and bicycle facilities. 

Speed is not why expressways are “express”.  For example, Winchester Blvd. is 45 mph, the same as San Tomas Expressway.  Sections of Bascom Ave. only differ by 5 mph from San Tomas (40 mph vs. 45).  Expressways are “express” because they have few intersections, no driveways in Campbell, and no parked cars.  These three attributes, while decreasing travel time, also make the expressways the safest roads to walk and bicycle. 

For pedestrians,  expressway shoulders are safer than arterial sidewalks.  Pedestrians walking along arterials have to cross five times more intersections than pedestrians walking along expressway shoulders.  Crossing the road is by far the greatest accident risk for pedestrians. Walking on the shoulder is very low risk, probably less than for bicyclists. Furthermore, on arterials, cars routinely drive across sidewalks to get to parking lots.  This does not happen on San Tomas' shoulders.

A detailed comparison of two paralleling routes follows:

Comparison of Bascom-Lafayette versus San Tomas

(between Camden Ave. and Central Expy. )

                                                             Bascom/Lafayette      San Tomas

Distance                                              8.1 miles                      7.7 miles

Intersections                                       76                                 16

Driveways                                           181                               1

Left-turns without left-turn signals     6.7 miles                      0 mile

Parked cars                                        125                               0

Shoulders                                            0 mile                           6.8 miles

Max. speed limit                                 40 mph                         45 mph

           [Data taken about 1 pm on Jan. 20, 1989 by Brian Buckmaster.]

From the above table, it is clear that San Tomas is a much safer road to walk or bicycle then paralleling arterials.  Prohibiting the safest road actually increases danger to pedestrians and bicyclists.  (A previous staff report never compared relative danger of arterials vs. San Tomas.) 

The intersections on San Tomas already allow pedestrians to cross in a quad crosswalk pattern (despite the ordinance), and pedestrians walk along the expressway to get to bus stops.  Santa Clara allows pedestrians and bicycles on most expressway miles (as of May 14, 1991).  Milpitas allows pedestrians and bicycles on its expressway.  San Jose allows pedestrians on most of its 27 miles of expressways, and bicycles on all expressways.

For the sake of safety and fairness to people who travel by means other than an automobile, for less traffic congestion and less air pollution, we ask you to completely repeal Ordinance 10.20.030 B. 


Akos Szoboszlay, P.E.                               Al Spivak, P.E.
Past President                                              President

enclosures: Typical arterial-expressway intersection and Pedestrian travel between Camden Ave. in San Jose to Camden Ave. in Campbell.

Also see: Expressway topics, links page.

home page | about MTS | Cashout | HOV lanes | Bay Bridge | Solution | Allow Pedestrians! | AGT | letters | webmaster