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Thursday, May 20, 2010

How They Voted

Widen 40th Street Bridge For Cars And Reduce Bike/Pedestrian Safety?

At the Tattler, we've noticed the city council and other deliberative bodies in Emeryville make controversial votes that get forgotten by the residents over time. In deference to the general edification of public policy and to strengthen Emeryville's democratic institutions, we will publish occasional short reminders on how the Power Elite in town have voted on these controversial issues.

On November 24 2009, the vote before the council was:

Should two traffic lanes be added to the 40th Street railroad overpass, crowding the bike lanes and pedestrians with high speed vehicles against the unanimous decision of both the Bike/Pedestrian Committee and the City Engineer?

Nora Davis - YES
Ken Bukowski - YES

Jennifer West - NO
Kurt Brinkman - NO
Ruth Atkin - NO

Note: This was a request of Madison Marquette Corporation, the developer of the Bay Street Mall. They thought if more high speed traffic were put on the bridge, there would be more shoppers at the mall. The City Engineer proved that due to other constriction points on either side of the bridge, there would be net no increase in traffic flow and for safety's sake the bridge should continue at two vehicle travel lanes instead of four. The two YES voting council members didn't care about that, they wanted to vote how the developer told them to.


  1. Way to go Jennifer, Kurt & Ruth!*

    *It's sad when we have to congratulate public officials for voting in a rational way.

  2. Although I support the decision to leave the bridge with only 2 auto traffic lanes, your blog entry mischaracterizes the issue at hand. The vote was over whether, AFTER AN AGREED UPON TEST PERIOD, to restore the bridge to its original configuration--the one it had been designed for and operated under for its entire existence, or whether to keep it in the test period configuration. Although the current configuration makes the bridge more pleasant for bicyclists--I can attest to that personally--it is a completely reasonable position to have the bridge in the configuration for which it was designed. It should have been designed differently, but hindsight is 20/20 :)

  3. There is no mischaracterization. At the time of the vote, there were two vehicle travel lanes. The vote was should two more vehicle lanes be added to the bridge against the will of the Bike Committee and against the advisce of the City Engineer. The Developer wanted to add two lanes. Nora Davis and Ken Bukowski both voted YES. The test period condition is not germain to the point.

    The council is not happy about this series 'How They Voted' because they would rather people not know how they voted. Ken's comment here is a funny take on it...he's trying to now say he was in favor of leaving only two travel lanes. So Ken, if that's the case, why did you vote for four?

  4. There is simply no evidence a bicycle lane cannot exist with two lanes of traffic as designed. There has only one bike accident reported on the bridge and it had nothing to do with the configuration of the lanes.

  5. The accident the commenter above refers to involved a car speeding around the curve in the bridge. The car lost control, drifted across the bike lane and struck a pedestrian on the sidewalk. The pedestrian was severely injured. Had a biker been in the bike lane it probably would have been a fatality.

    The commenter (probably Ken Bukowski) is correct that bike lanes can exist with four car lanes. The problem is that it isn't safe. The accident is proof of that but also, it doesn't FEEL safe for bikers being so close to speeding cars there, especially around the curve. Very few bikers used this route before the closing down of two of the traffic lanes and the primary reason is that bikers didn't feel safe. The Bike Committee received much testimony from bikers about that.

    It is really very revealing that Ms Davis and Mr Bukowski both were willing to help Madison Marquette against the unanimous vote of their own Bike Committee and even against their own City Engineer. It really shows how much they carry water for the out-of-town developers. It should also be noted these developers have been very generous to the re-election campaigns of these two council members.