December 1, 2023
Traffic is flowing smoother at intersection after light controller is knocked out.

Q: A couple of weeks ago, someone knocked out the traffic light controller at the intersection of Foothill Boulevard and Fairmont Drive in Ashland/San Leandro. Since then, the lights defaulted to blinking reds in every direction, and traffic has never flowed more smoothly.

The result is decreased travel times, reduced gasoline consumption, less exhaust (helping climate change and those with respiratory problems) and happier drivers.

This intersection is rather busy since it provides on/off ramps to Interstate 580, as well as access to Alameda County facilities, including the sheriff’s offices, a hospital and a youth detention facility. A few blocks away is Bayfair Center mall, a major retail center.

It raises the question: Have we overengineered intersections? Why don’t we look at converting traffic lights to blinking red or yellow, as appropriate? Would that not result in a win for everyone?

— Brian A. Foster, Castro Valley

A: A few engineers and other drivers may disagree with you, but that’s an interesting observation from a busy intersection.

Q: I’m an avid cyclist and have lived at Hamilton Place for 30 years (we are the closest unit to Hamilton and Leigh avenues). You’d have to have our view of Leigh to understand why the city put it on a diet.

We still have the two lanes northbound from Hamilton that Lindsay Geier wrote about in one of your columns last week, but now they jog in front of Valley Christian School to accommodate the new bike lane and curbside parking.

It used to be a daily two-lane straight-line dragstrip. We’ve seen many red-light crashes at Hamilton and Leigh and one midnight sideshow. This will help. Just get the lights fixed. Thanks, San Jose Streets Department!

The Los Gatos Creek Trail is east-west and doesn’t even connect eastbound past Meridian Avenue until Lonus Street, off Lincoln. How about connecting up our trail now?

— Robert Wahler, San Jose 

A: And …

Q: Since we’re talking about Leigh Avenue, I want to say a word about environmental damage from sideshows. Beyond the horrendous stench and deafening screeching is the water pollution. What do people at sideshows think happens when it rains? All that shredded tire rubber washes into storm drains and then to streams.

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I’ll bet our resident flock of mallards and Canadian geese under the Los Gatos Creek Leigh Avenue Bridge would have something to say about that.

— Robert Wahler, San Jose 

A: There is little discussion about the environmental cost of sideshows.

Q: After a collision, do people take pictures of each other’s driver’s license (and other cards)? Is that safe?

— Gary, San Jose

A: Yes. The DMV provides more information on what to do after a vehicle collision at:

Look for Gary Richards at or contact him at [email protected].