Traffic consistently ranks as one of the highest concerns for Campbell residents. Those of us who commute to work endure some of the worst commutes in the nation.
Traffic, of course, also harms the environment, and leads to significant public health risks. Most of us in Campbell understand the threat posed by climate change, one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime. Yet while Bay Area leaders propose policies that can help make our cities more environmentally-friendly, curbing traffic is often left out of these plans.
While many local leaders bemoan the scourge of traffic, particularly when running for office, few have offered real and tangible solutions. Previous City policy has generally been limited to a focus on expanding freeways. For example, Hamilton Avenue, with Highway 17 North and South ramps on both sides of the street, has some of the worst traffic in the entire South Bay region. Yet current City policy to mitigate this traffic is simply to add an extra lane to one of the on-ramps, which will cost us millions of dollars we don’t have and take nearly a decade to implement. Induced demand, which demonstrates how temporarily widening freeways eventually results in more cars on the road and makes the initial problem worse, is why this is an expensive and inadequate “solution” to the traffic problems which plague our region.
The good news is some of the most impactful changes we can make aren’t costly or complicated — but they will require determination and a clear vision for a cleaner, more livable, traffic-free communit
I will direct City staff to prepare a citywide report on changes the City can take to mitigate traffic in our neighborhoods and identify specific areas that would most benefit from efforts to reduce traffic, such as areas that currently face a disproportionately higher risk of traffic accidents.
Identifying these areas would allow us to implement specific solutions such as speed bumps, reduced speeds, and natural traffic calming landscaping elements.
Arguably both the most important and cost-effective way cities in our region can strengthen public transit and reduce traffic is through the implementation of citywide traffic signal preemption. Currently, we have a regional, trans-city public transit system, making coordination across cities more difficult.
A signal preemption policy would grant buses and light rail priority in traffic signals in Campbell, cutting time off public transit trips and making the overall system most efficient.
The ultimate goal would be moving toward signal preemption across the region. Better service results in more people using the lines, and can eventually cycle towards expansion of our public transit system through increased funds. This would limit the number of car trips taken in the region and take more cars off the road, reducing traffic for everyone.
East Campbell Avenue, the core of Campbell’s downtown, is home to one of the most vibrant corridors in the South Bay. At night, that means plenty of rideshares. But with only one lane of traffic in each direction, rideshare pick-ups on this street cause traffic jams, dangerously reduce visibility, and endanger pedestrians, as cars will sometimes drive into the lane of oncoming traffic to avoid a car that is stuck waiting for a passenger.
I will work with rideshare companies to ban pick-ups on E. Campbell and explore either limiting them to cross-streets or designating particular pick-up and drop-off zones. This concept, known as in-app geofencing, was demonstrated to reduce traffic in a University of Washington study.
Generally, previous City policy has been limited to a focus on expanding freeways. For example, Hamilton Avenue, with Highway 17 North and South ramps on both sides of the street, has some of the worst traffic in the entire South Bay region. Yet current City policy to mitigate this traffic is simply to add an extra lane to one of the on-ramps, which will cost us millions of dollars we don’t have and take nearly a decade to implement.
Freeway expansion is an inadequate solution to the problem of increasing traffic because of induced demand; public policy experts have shown the more we continue to expand the highway, the greater the number of cars that end up on the highway, thus cancelling out any alleviation of congestion.
That’s why highway expansion is an inadequate solution, and only strengthening public transit, coupled with smart City planning, will help us decrease traffic in our community.
Currently, Campbell lacks any representation on the board of the Valley Transportation Authority, our regional transit agency, made up of elected representatives from South Bay cities. This lack of leadership helps account for the fact that in the past decade, the West Valley region has faced some of the worst service cuts in VTA service, meaning that public transportation is currently not an option for many of our residents.
I will be a voice for Campbell on public transit issues and am proud to have already spoken out for our City through VTA Board Meetings and on public transit issues through op eds. I will also advocate for increased federal transportation funding through our Congressional delegation, which is necessary in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic to rescue our public transit agencies.
Previously, proposals for new housing developments in the City of Campbell have not maximized their potential to plan for public transit. This is partly because public transportation is a regional responsibility, while housing and planning is a municipal one.
Currently, proposals must include a “traffic impact report” — often leading to tense disagreements between the City and local residents about the true impact of developments on traffic. Proposals often include mention of nearby public transit, but do not account for the potential growth of new transit lines or potential cuts.
I will mandate that new housing proposals include a “public transit integration report,” requiring our City to communicate with Valley Transportation Authority to coordinate housing and transit needs.
Currently, the General Plan, the document that laws out a blueprint for City policy, directs the Council to ensure the entire City can be safely navigated by bike. Despite efforts from City staff, the City Council has not prioritized this issue. I will work toward completing this critical piece of our City’s public policy within the next five years.
I have previously participated in public meetings with housing developers to push to successfully install bike racks in developments near the downtown area. I will continue to encourage the use of bike infrastructure in new developments to keep cars off the road and achieve better public health outcomes.