Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 7, 2019

Dancing on the (safe) streets

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

Just between you and me, my husband is not that into a lot of local political stuff.  He listens to be occasionally if I like to go on a rant about something, but typically most of my political engagement regarding local politics happens on the internet.  And mostly on this blog or Twitter.  But my husband, yesterday, excitedly came to tell me about an email he received from Vice Mayor John Knox White.  Now, granted, it was a mass email sent to folks who signed up during the campaign but, none the less, an email from VM JKW.

The email was about street safety for people not wrapped in tons of steel and this is something my husband really can get excited about someone addressing in an upfront way.  Our kids walk and bike to school every day and he takes the ferry on some days and typically walks home from the ferry.  For those of you that use the Main Street Ferry you’ll know that Main Street is a complete shit show for bicyclists and pedestrians. I think I’ve complained about this before, but the fact that there haven’t been more serious accidents is a testament to how careful most people are and not because the city has done anything meaningful to make that area safe for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Apparently there was yet another accident over the weekend involving a skateboarder and a car and this is yet another example of the hostile streets we have in this town which has the ability because of the geography to really be a place where using alternative modes of transportation really is possible.

In response VM JKW has suggested a few really easy steps for those of us out there who are looking for the City to take decisive action on this issue.  From a FB post:

1. Tuesday night, the City Council will be voting on whether to approve costs related to three miles of street repaving (Item 5K on consent). I will be asking that all Arterial and Collector roads that are included in this repaving have their intersections daylighted at the same time and painted safety zones added to the corners. (more info on Painted Safety Zones: https://www.sfmta.com/blog/painted-safety-zones). These are two quick and effective methods of addressing vehicle speeds while turning and increasing visibility for all road users traveling through intersections. Let’s acknowledge, there will be street parking impacts, but keeping children, seniors, everyone from being hit is a trade-off we can get behind!

2. Adopt the NACTO street design guidelines as the city’s go-to standards. It’s time to start using guidelines made for cities like Alameda, not freeways and suburbs. https://nacto.org/publication/urban-street-design-guide/

3. Hire a traffic engineer who has a deep commitment to complete streets, street safety, and urban design. Our community should not have to fight for better design that includes slower streets (designed to encourage 25 mph), safer streets where our kids can walk to each other’s houses unattended, etc. This position is not council approved, the community needs to let staff know that this is a core need for this position and the time is now. When asked to design streets, the question our new traffic engineer should ask themselves is “how can we make it more livable and safe?” where can we push harder and do more?

4. At the upcoming May 15 and 16th Budget hearings, we need to identify the staff or consultant resources needed to move our safer streets projects forward now. No more “we don’t have the staff” while we continue to move forward with just slightly better than the status quo. A City’s values are found in its budget. It’s time to show what we value.

5. Develop a campaign to teach people driving what “yield the right of way to pedestrians” actually means. As it doesn’t mean “don’t hit them in the crosswalk” it means “stop and give them the right of way so that they can use the crosswalk safely.” This has been the law for decades.

Whatever your position on this issue, send an email about it today. It can be one sentence, as simple as “I support the Alameda Livable Neighborhoods and Safe Streets Initiative”:
Eric Levitt <elevitt@alamedaca.gov>; Liam Garland <LGarland@alamedaca.gov>; ANDREW THOMAS <ATHOMAS@alamedaca.gov>; PAUL ROLLERI <PROLLERI@alamedaca.gov>; Amy Wooldridge <AWooldridge@alamedaca.gov>; City Clerk <CLERK@alamedaca.gov>; John Knox White <JknoxWhite@alamedaca.gov>; Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft <MEzzyAshcraft@alamedaca.gov>; Jim Oddie <JOddie@alamedaca.gov>; Malia Vella <MVella@alamedaca.gov>; Tony Daysog <TDaysog@alamedaca.gov>

I’ve already sent my email in.  It was the one sentence, I don’t have that much time.

 

13 Comments »

  1. Ferry zone is indeed a zoo. Are there specific recommendations for that particular area?

    We also badly need more enforcement. Speeding is virtually consequence-free the last few years.

    Comment by dave — May 7, 2019 @ 6:40 am

  2. Another example from Facebook of the challenges young bike riders face.

    Comment by Mike McMahon — May 7, 2019 @ 7:35 am

  3. One has to be extra attentive around Main St ferry, especially between the terminal and Stargell when things are busy. Part of it is due to the cars parked along the west side of main that (1) take up that space and (2) dart quickly into the flow of traffic on Main from where they are parked (and right through a path taken by a lot of bikes). Add in a few cars impatiently changing lanes, and you have everyone looking in different directions.

    Seems like there is room in that area (that has the thickest outflow from terminal) for a dedicated bike lane. There is already a paved path on the other side of where cars park along Main. There is plenty of room for those cars (that park along Main) to park on the other side of the dog park and might free up space in the congested area going out from the terminal for a separate bike lane. When I drive to the terminal, I usually just wait for everything to clear out before leaving.

    Comment by MP — May 7, 2019 @ 8:09 am

  4. WHy has trafic enforcement been so lacking in last few years?

    Comment by dave — May 7, 2019 @ 9:28 am

    • Dave – Enforcement has diminished with the number of badged officers on the streets. In the 1990s. Alameda had 115-120 sworn officers so plenty were available to patrol the streets. It’s that simple. (Linda and I moved here in 1997 and soon found out how the 25 MPH limit was so well enforced.)

      Now, APD is authorized to have 88-92 sworn officers (not sure of the exact number in 2019) so there are simply not as many officers available. The fix is to increase the number of officers on the streets, whiuch means hefty budget increases that many are unwilling to pay for in our little Mayberry. The pension and benefit costs written into the public safety union contracts — beginning decades ago, not just recently — are partly to blame.

      The statewide pension and benefits crisis needs a systematic and comprehensive solution AND we need more sworn APD officers on our streets if we want better traffic safety and enforcement.

      Comment by Jon Spangler — May 7, 2019 @ 10:38 am

      • Fire remains fully staffed and has 2 (two) brand new buildings, while police are understaffed and street safety suffers. Fire is also the major funder of council campaigns.

        That is not a coincidence.

        Comment by dave — May 7, 2019 @ 10:49 am

        • I dunno about not having enough police staff, I recently got pulled over for not having a front license plate. I was driving a solid 25 mph on Otis. Must have been an overall slow day.

          Comment by Lauren Do — May 7, 2019 @ 4:41 pm

        • Probably has something to do with the nature of what’s really important to the populi. Fire in your house or 5 miles over the speed limit.

          Comment by Jack — May 7, 2019 @ 5:04 pm

        • Fun Facts:
          – Station 5 (at Alameda Point) has been closed since 2009, which in turn resulted in daily staffing being reduced from 27 to 24 suppression personnel working each day.
          – Total sworn personnel over a decade ago was 111; it currently sits at 92.
          – The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is *not* an AFD building.

          Comment by Patrick Corder — May 8, 2019 @ 5:53 am

        • EOC staffed by fire, and aggressively lobbied for by fire.

          Comment by dave — May 8, 2019 @ 6:31 am

        • “EOC staffed by fire” = one office is occupied 4 days a week by AFD’s Disaster Preparedness Captain who is part of the administrative staff (read: not suppression).

          Comment by Patrick Corder — May 8, 2019 @ 7:16 am

      • Confession re the 1990’s and being pulled over twice in the same day. Both motorcycle patrols. The first for swerving/goofing in the then-abandoned area behind the Tube. The second, for turning left on Park St just after 3:30PM. I had a great (and winning, somehow) defense on the second violation: that I already gotten a ticket earlier in the day.

        Comment by MP — May 7, 2019 @ 11:39 am


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