Mill Valley Traffic–Bursting at the Seams

Mill Valley
Traffic–Bursting at the Seams

09/15/15 Filed in:

With traffic in Mill
Valley reaching record levels of congestion, the City
Council designated a Mill Valley Traffic Task Force
to look for solutions. TRANSDEF’s President offered
these thoughts to the Task Force, indicating that
solutions would not be found that restore past
conditions:

I’d like to offer you a mental frame for the traffic
issue, one you’ve probably never heard:

We’re at the point where the roadway system in
developed areas has reached a state of maturation.
The fiscal and environmental costs of expanding
capacity are so high that it is mostly out of reach.
Yet vehicle trips keep increasing. This results in
ever-increasing congestion all over the Bay Area,
which is significantly worse here.

Mill Valley is something like a pressure cooker,
because of its isolation from the rest of the county.
Because of that, Mill Valley is at the bleeding edge
of this change.

Households here now drive twice as many trips per day
as they used to, which is twice as much as the
roadways here can comfortably accommodate.

Because of this, the fundamental assumption of
suburban mobility has stopped working. Now, you can
no longer jump into your car anytime of the day, and
just go.

IJ Columnist Dick Spotswood has gotten this exactly
backwards. There is no feasible fix that can bring
back how people got around thirty years ago. Those
days of driving alone are long gone.

While I believe our transportation system can be
improved, doing so will require new concepts and
letting go of long-held expectations. An improved
system will not look like the past.

Our institutions will need to change as well, as
Caltrans, MTC and TAM are responsible for a
significant amount of congestion.

The implication of this profound change is that
residents need to be conscious of their driving
habits. Dealing with traffic is a lot like water
conservation. We each need to do our part.

Part of the solution is fewer solo auto trips. We
need more carpooling, and the creation of shuttles
for school kids and general circulation.

A surprisingly large share of NB 101 PM traffic comes
from Mill Valley. These cars are driven by people
that work here, going home. To reduce that traffic on
101 and E. Blithedale, there’s an action you can
take:

Expand the applicability of the employee benefit
ordinance. This is a program promulgated by the Air
District that requires employers to offer commute
benefits to their employees. The City could make the
program applicable to smaller businesses. These
incentives could cause a shift to transit, and reduce
traffic.

If needed, further incentives could be considered as
part of a transportation demand management program or
TDM.

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