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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Horton Street Bike Boulevard is Coming But Businesses and Council Members Say No

Who Are You Going to Believe on Traffic?
Independent Traffic Engineers or City Council Demagogues?

Davis/Brinkman Emerge as Would Be 
Climate Science Deniers
 to Stop Bikes on Horton Street

News Analysis/Opinion
Should public policy have a rational basis at Emeryville City Hall?  Most would say yes to this but Kurt Brinkman and Nora Davis have a different take.
So badly do council members Brinkman and Davis want to do the bidding of developers and the business community at the expense of the residents, they've now resorted to a similitude of climate science denial; rationality nowhere to be found.  The two council members are now publicly stating that independent traffic studies using the scientific method, prepared by reputable traffic engineering firms, and retained by the City itself, are not to be believed; "Hard to believe" they both said specifically after casting aspersions on engineers and the idea of a cogent polity emanating out of City Hall.  Instead of science we're supposed to believe their vague unsubstantiated impressions about traffic; an alternate view that, incidentally they would have us believe, would help their developer friends and businesses.
It's all being done by these two Council demagogues to try to stop traffic calming measures coming to Horton Street, an eventuality that favored developer Rich Robbins of Wareham Development and other connected business owners on the street say they don't want.
Nora Davis
Scientists have a hidden agenda
They're not to be believed.

Traffic calming is coming to Horton because there are too many cars and trucks using the street.  This isn't an opinion, it's's the law.  Traffic is controlled on Horton Street and other streets in town that have been designated as 'bicycle boulevards' by the City's Pedestrian/Bicycle Plan, a document ensconced into law by a vote of the Council two years ago.  The Bike Plan provides that certain identified commuting bike boulevard thoroughfares are meant to exist primarily for bikes (but motorized traffic is also allowed).  Central to this provision is the mandate that no more than 3000 vehicle trips per day be permitted to use bike boulevards for safety and to encourage bike use.  The 3000 number incidentally, was arrived at when the Bike Plan was drafted because Emeryville business concerns wanted a higher number than what our neighbor to the north, Berkeley allows for their bike boulevards (that being 1500).  The actual daily traffic counts on Horton Street as measured by the traffic engineers range from 4800 all the way up to 12,000 near the Amtrak station, a gross violation of the Bike Plan.  The Plan calls for mandatory traffic calming to be used to force vehicle traffic below the 3000 threshold.

Emeryville's new award winning Pedestrian/Bike Plan, completed in 2012, took two years to formulate.  It was vetted at many public meetings with the help of the Bike Committee, city staff, citizens and Berkeley's Alta Planning at a cost of $200,000.  It was certified by a unanimous vote of the City Council.

Kurt Brinkman
Who's your daddy?
Why believe scientists when you can
believe us and our developer friends?
Obstructionist Tactic: Deny
This Bike Plan however is something council members Kurt Brinkman and Nora Davis can't countenance now even though they themselves voted to certify it.  The two are using a well worn tactic of the right now that a regimen of traffic calming is (past) due: they're denying the traffic counts, denying the science.  Mr Brinkman said at the July 15th City Council meeting (on video below), "I drive that road almost everyday and I don't see very much activity on Horton Street.  I know there were some traffic studies that were done a number of years ago but I just question how much traffic is going on on that street.  It's hard to believe."  Nora Davis piped up,"It's hard to believe. You could shoot a gun down there most of the time".  Traffic studies, schmaffic studies.

As the Horton Street Bike Boulevard finally comes to a head, the two science denier council members are likely planning to deliver a crowd of pitchfork and torch wielding business owners and selected residents to loudly say NO! to traffic calming at a meeting (or two) scheduled for September.  They may wish for the political cover a hoped for angry mob can deliver.  This remains to be seen but one thing can be relied on; any move by the City Council to stop traffic calming for Horton Street will be met with a legal requirement for them to vote to change the Bike Plan (and the ordinate General Plan) to either increase the number of permissible vehicle traffic trips on the street (something considerably higher than 12,000 per day) or delete the Horton Street Bike Boulevard all together.  However lot's of people like the Horton Street Bike Boulevard and a vote by the Council against traffic calming there will not come free.  Davis/Brinkman demagogic rhetoric aside, accompanying a No vote will be a hefty political price that will be paid.

Video Courtesy of the Emeryville Property Owners Association 


  1. As to the general plan: You know how easy it is to change the general plan and any thing else the residents have worked hard to develop and make a resident friendly town--just look at how the general plan changed for Nady. (I suggest we buy back the land from Nady and make mixed residential housing for the residents of Emeryville.) But as to the bike boulevard--this is the way to go! Developers get with the program! Nora and Kurt--get on board!

    1. True, the General Plan has proved easy to amend. We remember how they amended it to remove the 'EBI' Pedestrian Path last year. But the Horton Street Bike Boulevard is another thing all together. This bike facility is extremely popular in the region: fully 30% of the traffic now using Horton Street is bike traffic. Any attempt to raise the allowable car traffic to over 12,000 per day or to remove the Boulevard will bring down a massive feces storm on the Council chambers. And we're not going to let them try to cynically vote No to traffic calming without amending the Plan(s). Bikers in the whole East Bay will be apprised of this. The Council members need to be made fully aware of the consequences of voting NO to the mandated traffic calming. The Tattler will continue to report.

  2. Horton is not the only bike boulevard that is in need of traffic calming. 45th Street above San Pablo Avenue in the Triangle is a thoroughfare shortcut for auto commuters. At this section of the bike boulevard there is only 1500 cars per day allowed and there is now over 3000 daily who barely even stop for stop signs on this residential street. Hopefully newly elected councilmembers will address this with real traffic calming measures and not do anything stupid like changing the General plan to accommodate commuters.

  3. Apparently Mr. Brinkman is not driving on Horton between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on weekdays.