Most newcomers to downtown San Jose look around and just assume that the usual urban flight, bad neighborhoods, economic cycles, etc. led to the tragically sad state of the downtown core. Oddly, it was none of the above. Instead, it was the City Planning Department and Department of Transportation that jointly created the hostile environment of the present day — on purpose..
Downtown traffic congestion was getting too high, and that this was unavoidable and could not be improved. So instead, they reasoned, it should be made even more intolerable on purpose, to the point where no one would want to get to downtown in a car. They reasoned that people would choose to either walk or take transit. To this end:
- Traffic lanes were removed
- Parking was removed
- Mailboxes were re-positioned so that they could not be accessed by a driver in a car
- Traffic lights were purposely mis-synchronized
- High-rise buildings were designed with minimal underground parking
So, how did that grand vision work out? No one came to downtown. Businesses failed by the hundreds. All the people that were expected to be part of this futuristic vision instead started driving to more easily accessible dining and shopping areas on the periphery of downtown. So the net result was actually an increase in miles driven: people who used to shop downtown walking or making short car trips now drive 5-10 miles away and create ever more congested freeways.
It’s time to kill this terrible idea.