A few weeks ago there was a petition and a corresponding Twitter account to promote a movement called “I Drive Alameda” and, to be completely honest, I thought it was some sort of parody account. Like so. Turns out, it was not a parody account, it was actually a real petition.
A quick view of the comments on the Facebook page shows that most people appear to be most concerned with a reduction in parking spaces with the plans to turn a stretch of Central into a “Complete Street.” For those that regularly use Central, you’ll know that there is not a bike lane on the section between Webster and Third Street. It is a street that has a lot of pedestrian crossings because of Paden’s location on the water side of Central. There’s also a heavily used pedestrian crossing near the old St. Barnabas school that is hostile to pedestrians who must wait for cars to notice them before attempting to cross. All in all given the resources across the street from Central (schools, parks, retail) the street itself is not that friendly to anyone not using a car.
Anyway, as per usual for anything that may be a change in Alameda, some folks jump to immediate conclusions about how bad it’s going to be and assume that the thing that they love the most will be the first thing wrested from them due to these changes.
Anyway this guy on this Accident Attorneys website did such a great job addressing some of the concerns of the group, I mean, yeah, it’s weird that this law firm is posting so much about pedestrian safety, someone had posted a link to another post that was written about a pedestrian signal in Oakland that was really well done too. Anyway, highlights:
But Central Avenue is not a great street; it is one of Alameda’s most dangerous. Between 2008 and 2012, 21 people biking and nine people walking were hit by vehicles between Encinal Avenue and Main Street – accounting for 63 percent of the 48 total collisions on the corridor. Because crash severity increases exponentially with speed, collisions on Central Avenue are typically more dangerous than other streets in Alameda. For students walking or biking to the corridor’s multiple schools, or for families accessing Washington Park, navigating Central can be a frightening experience.
Road diets are typically implemented on streets with average daily traffic (ADT) of less than 20,000 vehicles. As the City of Alameda notes, traffic volumes on Central Avenue are very low and the street has excess vehicle capacity. At its busiest stretch, Central carries only 9,327 vehicles per day – less than several streets in Alameda where road diets have already been successfully implemented, including Atlantic Avenue and Broadway. In all likelihood, a road diet on Central Avenue could be implemented with little negative impact.
Here’s the section where the post tackles the issue of “parking losses”:
I Drive Alameda states that a road diet will inevitably remove parking. There is no evidence that this is the case: a road diet is a reconfiguration of lanes of travel, and the city’s design concept would maintain parking on both sides of the street. The only circumstance in which a parking spot could be removed is if there are locations in which parked cars result in dangerously low visibility for pedestrians crossing the street; however, these instances are likely to be limited, and a road diet would already improve visibility of pedestrians relative to the existing design.
Of course in response to the I Drive Alameda petition, Bike Walk Alameda created its own petition asking for the City Council to promote Safe Streets in general for all of Alameda and reminding the City Council of the pledge that was signed by our own Mayor in response to the Mayor’s Challenge for Safer People and Safer Streets. The first challenge activity of that Mayor’s Challenge is to “Take a Complete Streets approach” which is what is being attempted for Central Avenue.