Q: Reading your colleague Larry Magid’s column in which he reflects on the stories he’s covered over the past 40 years makes me wonder what Roadshow was like when you started writing for the Mercury News. When did you publish your first column and what were people writing to you about then?
It would be interesting to see some of your earliest letters. I’ll bet readers were grumbling about crummy road conditions, litter, traffic jams, high gas prices, and clueless drivers, just like we do today. Has anything changed?
Alan Feinberg, Los Gatos
A: Thanks, and you’ll see a series of some of the most memorable Roadshow stories a little later this year. The first Roadshow column was published in 1992 and readers then were asking about when Highways 85 and 87 would open, among other issues. And as you note, many people have the same concerns that drivers have now.
Q: Claire Lomax said her friend in Germany described how the “zipper effect” helps traffic flow. I want to mention another great idea. New drivers in Europe are evidently trained to reach for the door handle with the right hand, so they will turn to watch for oncoming bikers. We need to do that here.
A: It’s a simple idea that could make a big difference and might even someday save a life.
Q: Are there plans to improve safety on Vasco Road to address the countless accidents, most of which seem to be head-on collisions? With the exception of occasional police presence near Livermore, I observe no speed control measures whatsoever. One sign near Camino Diablo indicates air patrol, but I have never once seen an airplane or copter overhead. Many drivers are extremely aggressive, reckless and greatly exceed the speed limit. I can’t count the number of times some crazy driver passes me at high speed just as the lanes narrow from two to one (especially southbound near Livermore). A couple of times, I’ve been forced onto the narrow shoulder to avoid being sideswiped. Is it possible to install speed cameras that issue tickets on this road?
A: Improving road safety includes enforcement, and also road improvements. Contra Costa County completed a number of improvements to Vasco Road in 2012, Phase 1 of the Vasco Road Improvement Project. This included construction of a concrete median barrier, retaining walls, bridge widening, and other improvements. Regional funding of $15 million has been dedicated to Phase 2 of the project, but this is only about half the amount needed to complete the second phase. Contra Costa County Public Works submitted a grant application on June 16 for additional funding to move the Vasco Road Safety Improvements Phase 2 Project forward.
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