Downtown Gilroy’s traffic pattern is a real hazard

From our downtown perch on Sixth Street, we watched as an undercover California Highway Patrol officer almost got hit three times trying to cross the street.

He was not what you would think of as “undercover,” because he was wearing a fluorescent green shirt lit up brighter than a Christmas tree. Yet, drivers didn’t see him in the crosswalk at Eigleberry and Sixth. More than a dozen of them got tickets for not giving him the right-of-way. Three came within inches of killing him.

Yes, we can blame distracted driving. One mother and daughter were on their phones while driving through the crosswalk.

But the bigger problem is that Gilroy has an illogical, confusing and dangerous downtown traffic pattern–every other block of Eigleberry is a four-way stop and the others are two-way.

So we watch drivers on heading east and west on Sixth slowing down because they are confused and they almost get rear-ended. Others heading north or south jam on the brakes because they think the cars going the other way have stop signs.

The downtown layout was done years back after tracking the numbers of cars passing each intersection, according to new Public Works Director Girum Awoke.

Our observations tell us it’s time for a new study and some new measures to make sure traffic flows safely.

Not so black, Friday

Over the years we’ve lamented the crass commercialism of Black Friday at big box stores, and advised people to stay home with their families.

This year, we are truly worried about the future of retail stores and the steady growth of online retailing, particularly by Amazon, which is well on its way to becoming the huge monopoly it set out to be.

On recent visits to some large stores at the Outlets, they were so empty, you could have played football there. They felt like ghost towns. A part of the past was disappearing.

Yes, shopping will change and perhaps, with some experiments being done, it will still be a pleasant experience. Some new stores no longer have merchandise to take out. There are samples you can try on and then press a button on your phone and have them shipped by the post office, or in the future, a drone, from a warehouse. Is that the future? Maybe. Is it better than what we have now?  You tell us.

Then, there are other stores, like Bass Pro Shops, that make shopping an experience, with bowling alleys, bars, things to play on, entertainment. That seems like a more fun future.

But as it stands now, e-commerce is cutting away at retail, and with it the sales taxes that fund local government services. An Adobe study predicts $100 billion will be spent online for the holidays, up 13.8 percent from last year’s $92 billion.

Retail stores are falling hard. Sears and KMart have cut locations, Toys R Us has filed bankruptcy.

This may be the end of an era. We suggest you get off the computer for a bit and visit all retail, downtown and at the Outlets, which are foundations of the local economy and contribute revenues that improve the local quality of life.

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