The Alameda Road Diet Plan

Comments from District 5 Residents

Received February 20 through April 13, 2010

 

As residents of your district who regularly drive on both Marin and the Alameda, we would like to register our total opposition to the re-striping proposal for the Alameda.  We wonder if Berkeley has the distinction of being the only city in the country that thinks that clogging up traffic on a major traffic artery is a good thing (the euphemism "calming" is condescending and doesn't actually describe what happens).  Marin has been a mess, from our perspective--benefitting the very, very few while inconveniencing what must be hundreds of cars a day while we sit in backups unnecessarily.  Burning gas, I might add, polluting the atmosphere and sending cars onto side streets to avoid the traffic.  How is this an improvement?  The traffic simply doesn't move that fast on that three-block stretch of the Alameda--this is a solution to a problem that, from our perspective, simply doesn't exist.  The money wasted to create yet more traffic jams in Berkeley could be far better put to use maintaining our streets and roads.

 

I am opposed to the change.  I think the needs of the residents who are workers and commuters should be given more consideration, in contrast to the attention granted to the smaller, vocal, contingent of bicyclists.

 

We aren't available for this meeting, but we are in favor of the plan. We drive those blocks several times a day and feel it would work. We like the change in Marin. Creating left turn lanes would be a help.

 

BTW, I completely support the striping and will come to speak in favor if needed. I live almost on the corner, and have for the past 20 years. I have seen a lot.

 

I absolutely agree with our neighbor .  .  . Money must not be wasted when education, income, homes are in such a perilous state.   "Notice below re the Alameda restriping – please come, this, in my opinion, is a useless waste of City finances to accomplish a project that is advocated by a limited number of citizens and will affect us all negatively regarding travel from North Berkeley to South Berkeley. And it is based on the model of the changes to Marin (4 lanes to 3) which most of us find ineffective, dysfunctional and appalling."

 

We are opposed to the proposal. The subject section of The Alameda is currently a pleasant place to drive, bike, or walk, and is a welcome change from the congested clutter of the portion of Martin Luther King Way immediately to the south.

When two lanes are combined into one lane the vehicle density is increased because the cars that were distributed across two lanes must now fit into a single lane. There are instantly twice the number of cars in the remaining lane. Therefore there are fewer gaps in traffic in which to cross the street, turn left across, or back out of a driveway into.

 

As someone who drives The Alameda at least twice a day, I support the restriping plan.

 

I think The Alameda restriping is a good idea, though not without difficulties.  My biggest concern is the right turn off northbound The Alameda onto Monterey eastbound.  Almost nobody actually stops there! . . .  Please work with the traffic engineer on this concern, before somebody is hurt/killed there.

. . .  why not restripe Hopkins between The Alameda and Sutter as well? It is a raceway. So wide it invites fast driving, yet the Epworth Church has a steady stream of child and youth activities, with hugely unsafe actions by all concerned, such as speeding double and triple parking, mid-block u-turns that curl my hair daily.

 

I like the reconfiguration on Marin, and I think the reconfiguration on the Alameda will be equally helpful, because creating a left-turn lane eliminates the weaving between lanes that occurs as drivers swerve to the right around cars awaiting a chance to turn left and then swerve back into the left lane after the intersection. 

As a bicyclist, I would never use the Alameda from Hopkins to Solano, with or without a bike lane, because it's too steep. I recognize, of course, that some stronger and younger cyclists may appreciate having a bike lane. But if there were another helpful use for this space, such as bulb-outs, it might be worth considering.

 

Thanks so much for your response to our concern about the traffic on Josephine St.  As I will be out of town when "The Alameda Meeting" takes place, I just wanted to remind you of our neighborhood concern. If I were there I would speak to the concerns about The Alameda Plan and the Library Plan and how these both pose the risk of increased speeding on our street.

 

I live on Monterey Ave on the south side of the street.   I noticed the plan calls for no left turn onto Monterey ave off of the Alameda heading south bound.  This is good however since visitors will now be coming to my home off of Marin they will end up on the north side of the street on Monterey – that’s fine but for some reason the curb was just painted red for practically the entire block on that side of the street about 6 months ago.  Can that be changed back?   Why was it painted red anyway?  As a neighbor across the street I was never notified and it greatly reduces the parking in this block.  

 

For safety reasons, Approve Bike merge, left lane turn arrows for northbound vehicles turning from The Alameda onto Hopkins. Disapprove  Removal of the barrier [at Yolo], two (2) sets of solid double yellow lines spaced two or more feet apart  to no barrier - one set of 2 solid double yellow lines. (I think my neighbor’s 3 vehicles were totaled during the time there was only one set, and shortly after, two sets of solid double yellow lines were painted. Now, if nobody cares about property damage or lives, then make the change.)

I don’t drive, but see a lot of near-accidents. If there is a change from having a barrier to no barrier, and if folks want to drive from the gas station and hit a northbound vehicle and then hit a south-bound vehicle, then I don’t care. And, folks better not come knocking on my door asking if I saw the accident, because I’m going to tell them “no” even though I did. I know this is not the right attitude, but I’m disgusted when the theme is improvement and a problem is deliberately created instead of fixed.

 

We think the new striping will improve the safety greatly.

 

I have seen nothing about the source of funds for this project.  If it is a funding source that can be used for only this type of "traffic calming" project, then I can understand (though I don't fully support) this proposal.  If, however, the project is being funded from monies that could be used for, say, street resurfacing, then it is ludicrous to prioritize this project over the many road resurfacing needs in Berkeley.

 

The Alameda has lights at all the crosswalks but one.  I have no problem crossing the Alameda which I do regularly and at no time have I felt at risk.  This section of the Alameda has much less traffic over all that does the section of Marin.  Restriping costs money and from my direct experience a poor benefit. If there was infinite money, restripe.  But I see streets that are in terrible need of repair so in these times, restriping seems like a waste of resources to solve a problem that might not exist or when the residents see how it affects their ability to use their driveways, they may come to see that it’s not the panacea they thought.   

 

.  .  . [T]he introduction of bike lanes will greatly increase the danger to bicyclists who currently and will be encouraged to bike on the Alameda. I invite you to visit me [on] The Alameda and back out of our driveway as an example. The potential of hitting a bicyclist is scary – and several times though I was backing our very, very slowly bicyclists came by very fast and there was almost a collision. When very large cars are parked close to the driveway, especially when they extend to some extent into the Red Zone, one can only see completely after the rear of the car backing out passes the parked car. Under those circumstances there is much greater safety with respect to automobiles than bicyclists on two grounds. To begin, whatever their speed, other cars are further out in the street than bicyclists and therefore are more able to see cars slowly backing out and to not in any case be as close to the car parking area on the street. Second, I am better able to see the automobiles coming than a bicyclist for the same reason – my line of sight is better the further out the other “vehicle”. The bottom line is that bike lanes will increase the danger to bicyclists in proportion to the number of encouraged bicyclists. .  .

The speeding issue is of concern to residents. I want to suggest that there is another approach that will provide greater positive impact and less of an inconvenience. Place a crosswalk at Los Angeles across to the Alameda on the side of the Northbrae Community Center. Then place the yellow pedestrian sign as on Solano stating clearly the speed limit and the potential fine. I suggest that it would take a week, with police on Los Angeles and a few tickets, to slow the pace considerably. This should not be a great financial burden to the police department.

 

I have a suggestion re: The Alameda and Marin.  I know that the city wants to make The Alameda one lane each way with a center turn lane.  How about we put in protected left turn arrows in this horrible intersection so we don't have such frequent accidents

Received January 8 through February 19, 2010

 

 I never was a believer in Jane Jacobs’ view that streets could be reconfigured with no ancillary effects until I saw how well the Marin Avenue project has worked! Therefore, I think that The Alameda project will also be a winner. However, just make sure that the project doesn’t remove any parking places at the North Branch Library, one of our real assets in the Thousand Oaks community.   

 

 I just noticed that they want to do to The Alameda what they did to Marin, namely, change it from 4 lanes to 2 (the middle lane is useless and is a waste of pavement).  This is really stupid.  They ruined Marin.  I never use it from N Berkeley to go to and from the freeway anymore.  I use obscure side streets because they are now faster.  Of course, if their goal was to take traffic off of Marin, then they succeeded.  This plan will just make that stretch of The Alameda a never-ending bumper-to-bumper situation.  Why do people want that in front of their houses?

It really is the only part of The Alameda that is attractive at all.  It seems a shame to convert it to two lanes of crawling bumper to bumper traffic.  I guess though, that if somebody violates a pedestrian's right of way and hits him, the injuries will be less because he won't be going as fast.

 

I was unable to attend the meeting last week, but just wanted to voice my enthusiastic support for the plan.  We live near the corner of MLK and Berryman.  I have long thought of and witnessed the dangers of the intersection at Hopkins and The Alameda, not to mention the fact that several of our neighbors have had their cars totaled while parked on the street.  I am a cyclist as well as a driver and do often walk as well.  While I too have been on Marin when traffic backs-up, in general, I feel it has been a big improvement for the safety and usability for users of all modes of transportation.  Likewise, re- striping The Alameda and eliminating the merge at Hopkins would be a huge improvement in the safety of the area which has been a big concern of library patrons, parents, and neighbors due to all of the children that use this space.

 

I strongly support the restriping of The Alameda and Solano Avenue. I reside [on] Marin and the restriping of Marin has been marvelous. My home is on the north side of Marin and I often walk across Marin on my way to the north branch library. It is so much safer today than during pre-restriping times.  Also I am an avid cyclist and it is such a pleasure to cycle on stripped Marin. In addition, Marin is now considerably quieter that prior to restriping. In addition, it is my experience as I drive on Marin that traffic now moves much closer to the speed limit.

In summary I have experienced that
                 (1) crossing Marin is safer
                 (2) cycling along Marin is marvelous
                 (3) it is quieter
                 (4) traffic travels much closer to the speed limit

   "We live [on] El Dorado Avenue and are strongly opposed to additional “traffic calming” in our area.  They recently tried this on Marin Avenue and if you have ever been down Marin at rush hour you will see what a congested mess it is.  I feel sorry for the people who live or walk on Marin because they must be breathing in a tremendous amount of exhaust coming from the parking lot of cars lined up and down the street due to narrowing the lanes to just one.

  " 'Traffic calming' is code for 'traffic congestion and increased global warming.'  Traffic engineers seem to love redrawing lanes that don’t need re-drawing.  They think slowing down traffic by causing bumper to bumper traffic will somehow get people out of their cars.  It makes it much harder for pedestrians and bikers, creates more traffic, and exhaust fumes. Why would we want more traffic, congestion, and exhaust fumes in our area?  Does that make our neighborhood more pleasant or any safer for pedestrians?  We think not.

"We are opposed to the idea.  What a waste of time and taxpayer money!"

 

"Unfortunately my wife and I will not be able to attend tonight's community meeting about restriping the Alameda from Hopkins to Solano but we want to go on record as strongly supporting this project.  We live near the Hopkins corner of The Alameda and the speed and dangerous merge just south of Hopkins are of major concern.  We also notice difficulties with vehicles making left turns on Hopkins from both directions with many near-accidents as drivers switch lanes to avoid a delay.  In addition, as pedestrians we take our lives in our hands at the intersections of The Alameda with Hopkins, Monterey, and Marin, truly dangerous crossings to people who walk, and which would be helped considerably by the restriping project." 

 

 "When people are traveling south on The Alameda, after passing Monterey, they often go onto Josephine St., either to avoid the stoplight at Sonoma or just to make better time. I am very concerned that the traffic will be worse with the new changes. We need a speed bump on Josephine St. where it joins The Alameda to slow down the present traffic as well as the traffic that might occur with the proposed changes. People speed down this small part of Josephine St. Twice, I have seen dogs get hit by cars without motorists even stopping. This is the back of the library where there are always lots of kids."

 

"Originally, I was very skeptical about narrowing the roadway on Marin to one motor vehicle lane in each direction. In my opinion the changes have proven to be very successful in calming traffic, even though sometimes, during peak commute hours, there are several-blocks-long backups. I am sure that this technique will also serve well to slow down traffic on The Alameda."

 

"I think the draft proposal addresses the safety issues well.  The plan appears to provide sufficient travel lane space for cars and busses, and should help to relieve occasional congestion at Hopkins, Monterey and Marin with new designated turning lanes.   

"My additional suggestion is to look at the intersection of The Alameda and Josephine, particularly for southbound traffic turning onto Josephine Street.    Pedestrians at that intersection have a very long distance to cross, while cars frequently run through at high speeds,  racing toward Hopkins, to beat the signal at the intersection of The Alameda and Hopkins.   Some form of "calming" devices ( rumble bumps, signage, striping, etc. ) to slow this merging traffic could avoid a terrible collision or injury.    This pedestrian crossing is one of the most hazardous in the area ( there are certainly more of them nearby ), given the oblique angle at which the two streets merge, the tendency of cars to gain speed downhill from Monterey, and the frequency of pedestrian usage to and from the Library, school and from other parts of town."

 

"Please do not mess around with The Alameda. it's a great little stretch of street, never overcrowded with cars and works great. Spend money on something that needs fixing."

 

"With the City of Berkeley in the financial condition it is in I believe this is a waste of time and money.  The unfunded infrastructure liabilities of this community are huge.  First of all there is so much more, like Hinkle Park, that needs attention not to mention streets and sewers.  Second the job done on Marin is not really a success.  Traffic backs up for blocks and there are times it takes two or three light changes to get through an intersection.  It is not bike compatible and there are few people who venture onto Marin on a bicycle, myself included. Basically the bicycle and the automobile are not compatible.  That is why "Bicycle Boulevards" like Virginia are much more successful.  I know they figured this out in Portland, Oregon so I don't see why we can't figure it out here. "

 

"Terrific! We were so pleased to receive the notice regarding the Proposed Road Diet for The Alameda and are extremely excited about eliminating south bound merge lane below Hopkins!!!!  We're the folks who live just south of the merge lane who have three parked cars totaled and quite a number of incidents where our parked cars have been hit. We will be at the meeting to fully support the proposal!"

 

"Frankly, I think the restriping is extremely wasteful of hard-to-find funding when looking at traffic patterns throughout Berkeley.  The street functions fairly smoothly now (the biggest traffic issue has to do with Solano Ave from The Alameda to Colusa Ave, quite independent of issues on The Alameda)."

 

"The stretch of the Alameda between Solano and Marin is not heavily travelled and needs absolutely nothing.  The double-double lines themselves are unnecessary. The occasional speeding car does no harm, and the city should be able to capture speeders using photos, calm traffic thus and make money.  Bikes have plenty of room.  No problem backing into traffic from driveways.  No need for more crosswalks.

"No need to paint-up this stretch.  Between Marin and Hopkins is another matter, and traffic does get tight at the library.  Bikes, cardoors and cars do occasionally touch in front of the library.  I suggest widening the street a bit using some of the front of the library.  But making it look over-regulated is not neutral.  I hope there are really good reasons if the  lower  The Alameda is to  look as ugly as lower Marin.  I know there are no such reasons for the Solano-Marin stretch."

 

"I approve of the restripe proposal. Hopefully this proposal will create a SAFER environment for all—drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians. There are many bicyclists, so having a bike lane makes sense. And, please don’t forget about the large buses (public and school), trucks and emergency vehicles."

 

"GREAT PLAN.  I have wondered why the idea didn't come earlier after the great success with Marin Ave.  Plus the car traffic on the Alameda doesn't justify two lanes each way.  I live 2 houses from the Marin-Alameda intersection and am all in favor, but will not be able to come to the meeting.  We could also use a cross walk at the Alameda & Los Angeles where my walking friends and I often cross that wide street."

 

"Why not just close the Alameda entirely?  Even this probably would not satisfy the small number of pampered, solipsistic, non-working members of the bicycle lobby.  Because then they would complain about all the pedestrians clogging up "their" rightful space.

"The removal of traffic lanes on Marin only produced longer traffic times for commuters, and more congestion on Solano and other streets.  That is, it increased the inconvenience for a large number of citizens to benefit a very few.  I very seldom see any bicyclists on Marin."

 

"Sounds like this plan will mimic Marin, making better use of the center lane for turns and giving bikes a much safer lane.  I am all for it."

 

"We live on Hopkins and think this is a wonderful idea!  Our daughter crosses at the corner of Hopkins and the Alameda on her way to school (King) every day.  We have been hoping for a change like this to make this intersection safer.  Thank you!"

 

"No, no, no.   Another bad idea from the Berkeley traffic department.   This was done on Marin and all it's accomplished is traffic jams the entire length of Marin and made it very difficult and dangerous to cross Marin or make a left turn.    What good are bike lanes only between Solano and Hopkins?    

"It's time to drastically cut the staff of the Berkeley traffic department.   They are justifying their existance with more foolish and expensive projects.   Reallocate those funds to the police department and require them to enforce the traffic laws, for a change."   

 

"As a driver, I have found the Marin Ave restriping very dangerous.  It addition it causes traffic to back up for about 2 blocks at a time.  This leads to highly increased pollution.  On Henry street they have stripped one land so that it abruptly becomes right turn only. It is also dangerous--hardly anyone ever turns right but all traffic must merge. I believe that the same problems will occur on the Alameda.  

"I live on a busy street(Oxford).  People buy houses knowing that these are major arteries but make purchases for a lower cost.  It is unfair to turn other streets into arteries after the fact."

 

"Love it!  This type of striping has worked elsewhere in Berkeley and will make everything as smooth as glass."

 

"To my thinking, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" is applicable here.  I don't see that there is a problem here that needs to be solved."