Blogging Bayport Alameda

September 12, 2014

I can’t drive 25

Filed under: Alameda, Transportation — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

Very recently New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill which allows New York City to have a default speed limit of 25 mph for the whole city.  This was done in order to reduce the number of traffic related fatalities to zero in a campaign called, wait for it, “Vision Zero.”

Of course Alameda is well known for our almost island-wide 25 mph speed limit (with several notable exceptions like Appezzato and that one road into Bay Farm whose name I always forget) but it’s a number that people both like and is often not obeyed because some people don’t see the point of it.  I can’t tell you how many times someone has crossed the center line to pass me because I was going “too slow” at the posted speed limit.

This opinion in the New York Times about the speed limit reduction suggests that we need to go beyond just lowering the speed limit, but create visual cues for drivers to place their speed in context, from the piece:

Drivers tend to go at a speed that feels appropriate for the road they are on. For instance, does your street have a center dividing line? If so, add a few m.p.h. to the average traffic speed. Is it one-way? Add some. Does it have well-marked bike lanes? Cut a few m.p.h. Trees on the side? Drop some.

Ninth Avenue in New York City became safer for all users — drivers, bikers and pedestrians — just by taking a lane away. Drivers pay more attention to these visual messages than whatever advisory signs are present. And drivers seem to learn from other drivers, even in minute ways — one study found that a driver was more likely to signal for a turn at an intersection if the preceding driver had also signaled.

And for those that think that an additional 5 or 10 mph doesn’t make the roads any more dangerous, also from the piece:

When the speed at which a car strikes a pedestrian rises a mere 10 m.p.h. — to 40 m.p.h. from 30 — the chance of the pedestrian’s dying rises to 85 percent from 45. The real question is not absolute speed but appropriate speed. Take Germany: Parts of its autobahn network are speed limit free, but many inner-city zones mandate 30 kilometers per hour (that’s 19 m.p.h.). Small reductions in city speed limits (say, to 25 m.p.h. from New York’s current default of 30) have little impact on travel times.

There are several roads in Alameda that really need to have visual cues put in place to drop the overall speed of the street itself.  Given the recent legislation passed in California regarding cyclists and the requirement that vehicles maintain a three foot buffer, it might be time to consider buffering bicyclists with parked cars instead of the other way around which could also help provide more visual cues to slow speeds down.



  1. “it might be time to consider buffering bicyclists with parked cars instead of the other way around which could also help provide more visual cues to slow speeds down.”

    Comment by BMac — September 12, 2014 @ 7:15 am

  2. Technology is available for vehicles so they would not exeed the speed limit in any city , anywhere , it is actually applied to many form of car racing …..
    truth is exceeding it is a bonanza for everyone from City to insurance Co all gauging the public.

    Comment by joel Rambaud — September 12, 2014 @ 8:01 am

  3. Your problem, Lauren, is that you have inserted the word “upper” onto the Speed Limit sign. Some drivers view 25 as the Lower Speed Limit. The sign does not specify.

    Comment by vigi — September 12, 2014 @ 9:15 am

  4. We could easily have parking protected bike lanes tomorrow on Grand, Lincoln and Central/Encinal. No need for Lincoln and Central/Encinal to be 4 lanes wide. One lane each way, turn lane in the middle, parking then bike lanes next to the curbs.

    Comment by BMac — September 12, 2014 @ 10:02 am

  5. Don’t forget about Otis between Park and Ninth.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 12, 2014 @ 10:11 am

  6. The stretch on Fernside Blvd. between Blanding and High Street offers an interesting study. A driver feedback device that displays the approaching vehicle’s speed is posted at both ends of the section. Most times and this isn’t scientific, drivers clock in between 27-30mph – but in the afternoon say after 3PM – the lead car in the pack can go as high as 40-45mph down the stretch.

    Driving around Alameda at 25 mph requires situational awareness and a handful of motor officers.

    Comment by Basel — September 12, 2014 @ 10:14 am

  7. Well if they finally do the bike lanes on Shoreline you would not want to duplicate them on Otis.

    Comment by frank M — September 12, 2014 @ 10:32 am

  8. #7 – I don’t think bike lanes on Otis should be seen as “duplication”. We should be trying to maximize safe, protected bike travel at every opportunity on the Island. We have an ideal city for biking and the more we can get people out of their cars and onto their bikes the healthier we’ll be, the less traffic we’ll have, and the fewer carbon emissions we’ll have. Otis is a perfect candidate for bike lanes – it has excess width that can be dedicated to bikes and it serves a wide number of destinations that should be bike accessible (Southshore, Otis School, Ritler Park, and Crown Beach). The best way to slow down traffic on Otis is to decrease the number and width of lanes and provide protected bike lanes.

    Comment by david burton — September 12, 2014 @ 10:47 am

  9. Hello from Long Island, NY! Where we are is a mix of country roads and crazy-ass expressways. The painted lanes, arrows, etc. on the pavements are mostly faded to worn off completely. The posted speeds in town are between 30 and 40 mph. These, appear to be treated by the residents as only a suggestion. Everybody routinely drives 5 to 15 mph over the limit and nobody appears to be getting stopped. Since many of the people who live on Long Island either work in NYC or are from there originally, I do not have much hope for Gov. Cuomo’s plan.

    On the bright side, the pizza is so amazing, you would not believe it. A combination of the excellent water (NYC is one of only a handful of cities in the world where the natural water is so pure, it does not have to be run through a treatment plant), and ingredients of a quality you can’t find even in North Beach makes it absolute bliss. If you could get something like this in Alameda, every pizza place for miles around would go out of business. Everywhere it’s hand tossed. EVERYWHERE. No machine made, cookie cutter, nonsense. Again, the bread, rolls, and the bagels are far, far, better, even in the chain places. I never ate bagels in California because they were so awful. Now I remember why. I lost weight before I left and am going to have to try very hard not to put it all back on. Domino’s? If that’s the best Southshore can do, I weep for Alameda. I really do.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — September 12, 2014 @ 10:48 am

  10. Buffered bike lanes actually sped up traffic in NYC. Though some people say it’s the dedicated left-turn lanes that made the difference.

    Comment by ajryan — September 12, 2014 @ 10:48 am

  11. Denise, have you tried East End’s pizza? I’m originally an east coaster and it’s the closest approximation near Alameda that I can find.

    Comment by ajryan — September 12, 2014 @ 10:49 am

  12. On the other hand, NYC has marginal burritos, you can’t win ’em all. America’s Best Burrito according to 538.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 12, 2014 @ 11:25 am

  13. # 8 But you have an EIR for AP that essentially says that the Tube is already at capacity and that people will migrate crosstown. I can see reducing lanes on EITHER Shoreline or Otis but to do both is rather ridiculous. From my POV I am retired and leave the Island infrequently and can choose my times. There will be thousands of new residents here in the next 10 years and although in a ‘perfect world’ many will riding bikes I am willing to wager most won’t. We have a school system where children in single families go to multiple schools and then the mothers or fathers drop them and then must go on to their jobs. There simply isn’t enough time in the day to do this by bike.

    Comment by frank M — September 12, 2014 @ 11:30 am

  14. #4 I disagree, Lincoln and Central/Encinal should be 4 lanes. That is the reason people use those streets. If you cut them to 2 lanes more people will use the side streets.

    I like burritos more than pizza. One pizza a year is enough for me. My choice is pizza hut thin crust with extra sauce, extra cheese and everything else on it except pineapple or anchovies.

    Comment by Joseph — September 12, 2014 @ 2:23 pm

  15. Joseph, that pizza hut thin crust is actually cardboard (recycled)

    Comment by John P. — September 12, 2014 @ 3:08 pm

  16. I started at a Pizzeria in Philadelphia on my 16th Birthday for $1/hr. Denise is correct about the water in NY making the Bagels and Pizza better. I think another factor is ‘live yeast’ as opposed to powder. I could never digest CA pizza. account the uncooked dough and amount of cheese . Then I bought a good pizza stone and crank my oven up to 525. I make my own dough and roll it in a ball and freeze it. Take it out of the freezer the day before and put it on the counter the day you make your pie.

    Comment by frank M — September 12, 2014 @ 3:25 pm

  17. #15 John, I guess I like recycled cardboard…everyone has their own tastes, but plenty of people buy it.

    Comment by Joseph — September 12, 2014 @ 4:34 pm

  18. I can’t remember the last time I saw a bike on Otis at least in the stretch near the mall, (maybe on the sidewalks) though there are always bikes at Park and Otis light going to the beach or mall. Maybe it’s because it is not bike friendly enough, but personally I don’t want to bike on a freeway. Obviously we don’t have room for another bike track on Otis, but bike lanes could probably be added if we removed parking west bound. The thing about the photo for the New York article is that there are avenues in Manhattan with four lanes in one direction which are easier for constructing buffered bike lanes. The traffic on Otis simply needs to be slowed down, especially near Lum, but the middle turn lane near the mall seems like it is a set up for accidents if there was a substantial increase of bike traffic, unless a light were added at the center driveway near the gas station. People currently do a lot of crazy stuff.

    Comment by MI — September 13, 2014 @ 9:20 am

  19. I think we need to plan for the future and bikeways are in! Here’s an interesting article about bike trends:

    It’s interesting to note that the sharp increase coincided with the surge in improvements:

    “The sharp increase in transportation by bike coincides with a surge in improvements – from parking “corrals” to bike lanes, sometimes with green pavement and protective barriers – around the city”.

    Comment by Karen Bey — September 13, 2014 @ 1:45 pm

  20. The City of Palo Alto has a complete Bike Plan filed under Transporation on their website. The City of Berkeley has one too:

    It includes everything from Bike Route School Maps, a Bicycle Advisory Committee, and a Bicycle Boulevard Program.

    Comment by Karen Bey — September 13, 2014 @ 1:57 pm

  21. I keep getting flats…do any of you use those tire liners or flat proof tires? Do they sell them at Alameda Bike? No use in having bike lanes if you always have flat tires.

    Comment by Joseph — September 13, 2014 @ 3:32 pm

  22. MI, Obviously there’s not enough space on Otis for a bikeway as long as you ignore the amount of space that’s there and the traffic counts, etc. Otis, even after Shoreline’s road diet will likely have room to accomodate multiple modes safely. “I never see bicycles…” is like saying “I never see people swimming across that river, therefore there’s no need for a bridge.” Why do the people who live in the residential neighborhood west of south shore have to live by a mini-freeway?

    Comment by JKW — September 13, 2014 @ 3:41 pm

  23. #21. I splurged for the thicker tubes about five years ago, haven’t had a flat since, after getting multiple flats in a six month period with tire liners.

    Comment by JKW — September 13, 2014 @ 3:42 pm

  24. 22. yeah John, I was baiting you for that comment. wah-la! Note: my qualifying comment was that maybe that is because because it isn’t bike friendly enough. And who the fuck swims to Oakland ? There are bridges to drive cars there and even bike there! As for Otis, I don’t think the presence of bikes alone will modify bad driving, though bike lanes would alert them that bikes ( should) get some priority. What constitutes a “bikeway”? Any type of bike lane? At a glance it seems there is not adequate room for a buffered bike lane, i.e. a lane plus a striped buffer, as per the photo in link about NYC above, at least not without parking removal. IMHO, to safely add a standard bike lane you would need to remove parking, which is no skin off my nose. Not like parking on north side is in front of homes. Adding east bound lane is a tougher issue for safety because cars are curbside and there are a number of driveways. If you know existing lane widths and minimums for auto lane widths and there is enough space to shave the auto lanes to add bike lanes, and you wish to advocate, please educate us. There are technical rules for minimums and then things like making judgement calls when it’s prudent. My experience is that when you mix in bike speed with auto speed there are more “issues” and situations where impatient drivers will do the wrong thing rather than honor cyclist right of way. The mall is a big final destination for a lot of people in cars who have driven some distance are all hopped up to park and shop. R.O.W. is rather moot when cyclist are injured. I read the post on Bike Alameda from Jim who was crossing Park at Tilden east bound and was headed toward Fruitvale bridge on Tilden but had two cars directly to his left wanting to head toward Oil Changers ( is that Lincoln?). First guy just sped past but the second person didn’t simply do the obvious and courteous thing, like pause two seconds to let the cyclist advance, but instead yelled at the cyclist about “knowing the rules of the road”. Ironic. Jim’s description was slightly confusing, but I think that is what he said happened. I’m often not that observant, and I don’t frequent a lot of places at Southshore but the one place I notice a lot of bikes is Trader Joe’s. Perhaps erroneously I inferred over time that a lot of employees at T.J.’s must bike to work. My point is that it doesn’t seem like a destination a lot of people want to bike to or are willing to bike to. Maybe bike advocates have a better handle on that reality, like bike rack placement and usage. cheers

    Comment by MI — September 13, 2014 @ 8:54 pm

  25. Best East Bay pizza = Zachary’s Why would anyone think Alameda food represents California, when we are surrounded by Oakland, Berkeley, & SF?
    Alameda food [with a few exceptions like Kamakura] has always been mediocre. That’s why the restaurants serve lots of booze.

    Comment by vigi — September 14, 2014 @ 3:33 pm

  26. I could see how narrowing the streets and creating bike lanes on Otis Street would make Otis a more desirable street to drive, bike, and walk, on – and less like a freeway.

    Wherever there are greenbelts and bicycle boulevards, it makes for a more charming and walkable neighborhood. Otis Street also has a school; so slowing down the pace on Otis Street would serve the school district as well.

    Comment by Karen Bey — September 14, 2014 @ 3:44 pm

  27. The City of Berkeley has found that bicyle boulevards typically calm traffic and improve pedestrian safety. Here’s the bicycle boulevard program in the City of Berkeley:

    Comment by Karen Bey — September 14, 2014 @ 3:54 pm

  28. 25. I’ve had Zachary’s, East End, and every other Bay Area place touted as “best” and “just like NY” but they just don’t even come close. After one visit, it just wasn’t worth the trip or the expense.

    What I’ve found in NY so far is that the quality at the Mom and Pop places is better and the prices are lower on food overall. Our new local pizza guy said he heard that 18″ cheese pizzas in California can cost as much as $20. No kidding! (As an example: Bowzer’s is $20.95. This guy sells them for $13.95).

    Long Island has lots of farms, so we get local produce now that is amazing but the winter will be a different story.

    We have not tried the Asian food but I’m pretty sure it will be an epic fail–lots of places advertising themselves as Chinese/Japanese/Thai, and they don’t mean fusion! The one Mexican place I saw looked pretty pathetic, too, but I had outstanding chili at a mall restaurant called Zinburger. Every place has its pluses and minuses. But it’s an adventure. I plan to rediscover soup in the coming months. I wonder if Seinfeld’s “Soup Nazi” is still in business ;)!

    Comment by Denise Shelton — September 15, 2014 @ 7:51 am

  29. Comparing Zachary’s to NY style pizza is like comparing burritos to tamales. Zachary’s is one of the greatest food products in the world. The fact that they are both called pizza is what screws up the conversation.

    Comment by BMac — September 15, 2014 @ 10:05 am

  30. Zachary’s is Chicago style pizza so I’m fairly sure they aren’t selling their pizzas as “just like New York.”

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 15, 2014 @ 10:36 am

  31. I know Zachary’s isn’t saying that. But people tend to try and compare which “Pizza” is best and instead of arguing about which is a better food product, anyone with any connection to NY can’t get past the fact that Zachary’s is also called Pizza.

    Comment by BMac — September 15, 2014 @ 10:51 am

  32. @BMac, I was addressing Denise’s first sentence.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 15, 2014 @ 11:04 am

  33. Doh.

    Comment by BMac — September 15, 2014 @ 12:36 pm

  34. Karen, Berkeley turned Milvia into a Bicycle Boulevard north of University. Lots of bulb outs and street structures. Not everybody who lives on Milvia loves it because, you guessed it, the limitation on parking. Milvia is parallel to two major arteries, Shattuck which is multi-laned and MLK which also gets heavy use and goes from four lanes to two parallel to the Milvia bike blvd. Milvia is all residential. The Bike Blvd section also starts where there is a strip park along residential Berkeley Way one block north of University with bike lane running east west where BART took out houses to bury it’s tunnel. Milvia south of University also has full bike lanes and passes Berkeley High. Traffic on MLK and Shattuck still sucks.

    Otis is the main artery in from Bay Farm and the section from Park to Willow is heavily commercial destination from east and west, and Park street. Shoreline, just two blocks south, will have a parallel bike TRACK. The number of driveways on the south side of Otis (east bound lanes) is the section of concern in terms of encouraging bike traffic. As a pedestrian one has to be vigilant because autos roar across the sidewalk as drivers crane to see traffic into which they want to merge. The Wells Fargo and Burger King drive thru are two places which are near blind until the last second. At Least bike lanes are in the roadway and beyond the sidewalk which drivers barrel across. The flip side are drivers approaching behind cyclists wishing to turn into these driveways. When I bike across Otis on Park toward Shoreline there are often cars speeding ahead at the light change which rush past to turn right after the Wallgreens. Most drivers slow to a stop on Park if needed but I’m always vigilant waiting for that poopy head driver in a hurry.

    If introducing bike lanes reliably calms traffic then maybe it’s a good way to get the speed down on Otis, but it seems perilous to ride there now.

    Comment by MI — September 15, 2014 @ 7:49 pm

  35. Seems like two directions of bikes on the north side of Otis would be a good fix for the driveway issue. Aren’t the Fernside lanes two way at some point?

    Comment by ajryan — September 15, 2014 @ 8:42 pm

  36. I’m sure you’ll find a Chicagoan who will shoot down Zachary’s as NOT being anything like Chicago style, either. I didn’t say they ADVERTISED themselves as this, I was talking about Yelp reviews and things other people say about it. Taste is subjective, of course. Some people live for SPAM, while the very idea of caviar is appalling to many of us. Zachary’s does have a good product, certainly better than most available in the Bay Area. But they don’t have the water, and well, you just have to be here to get that. The truth is, most Americans think the pizza in Italy is not so great either. It usually comes down to what you’re used to and what you like or what you learned to love as a child. In other words, “To each his own,” said the farmer as he kissed the pig. Now where is that good bagel shop I heard about….?

    Comment by Denise Shelton — September 16, 2014 @ 8:16 am

  37. There are all different types and twists on pizza. I was watching one of the Master Chief programs and a guy made pizza with a mashed potato topping and won the challenge. No one has brought up the subway pizzas…I think they are good for $5.00 and 3 minutes. I always have them cook it with extra cheese and then I pile all the fresh vegetables on it afterwards.

    It is funny how the subject is on bike lanes and it becomes about food. I guess you need food to have the energy to ride a bike or a ride a bike so you can burn the extra calories from the food. Different “spokes” for different folks.

    Comment by Joseph — September 16, 2014 @ 9:47 am

  38. “But they don’t have the water”. What are you saying ? That New York water is better than the Mokelumne’s Sierra runoff? Sacrilege! Now I am convinced you must have perverted taste buds. I have never heard anyone complain about Alameda’s tap water before. Did you only drink bottled Arrowhead while you were in Alameda?

    The EBMUD watershed gives Alameda some of the best tasting tap water in the country.

    Comment by vigi — September 16, 2014 @ 10:00 am

  39. 38, Google it vigi. It’s well known that NYC water is superior to almost everywhere else in the country. It’s so pure, they don’t even run it through a treatment plant. Drank tap water both places and within the past two weeks. No comparison. Sorry. But hey, the weather in Alameda is the best in the world, which is why we’re keeping the house and plan to retire there.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — September 17, 2014 @ 7:42 am


    Comment by Denise Shelton — September 17, 2014 @ 7:44 am

  41. Invalid comparison, Denise. NY tap water is only compared to bottled water, not tap water in other parts of the country. “It’s well-known” usually means you have nothing to support your statement.
    I assume you are filling up big plastic bottles in NY to bring back to Alameda with you. Hey, maybe you could open a shop on Park Street & sell it!…right next to Capone’s…Or maybe to replace Capone’s

    Comment by vigi — September 17, 2014 @ 11:19 am

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