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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Yet Another Year Passes, Still No Horton Street Bike Boulevard

It's déjà vu all over again
December 31, 2014 is like December 31, 2013;
Bike Plan Still Being Ignored

Today, the Tattler brings back our ongoing end of December yearly feature: We re-post our September 2012 story (below) on Emeryville's Horton Street Bike Boulevard every December 31st and will continue until City Hall stops stalling and implements our Bike Plan as they are required to do.  This end-of-the-year feature serves as an annual clearinghouse for any news on the hold up of the Horton Street Bike Boulevard over the previous year.   Readers bored or exasperated with the ongoing story of City Hall inaction on Horton Street can now simply read the year end (short) synopsis in the italics preceding the September 2012 re-post every December 31st.  
I wake up every day, right here in 
Punxsutawney, and it's always 
February 2nd (or December 31st 
in Emeryville), and there's nothing 
I can do about it.

2014 Synopsis:
In 2014, the Bike Committee started really turning the screws on the City Council to stop ignoring the Bike Plan and start implementing it. 
After the Council spent some $10,000 in 2013 for a study of the Plan, what we called a 'study of the study', finally in 2014 that new study was completed and the Council held two public meetings so residents could weigh in on the new study.  As of today, the Council is still deciding the meaning of those public meetings, but they have agreed in principal to consider thinking about the idea of perhaps placing temporary bollards someday on Horton Street as the Bike Plan calls for.  For the record, Council members Nora Davis and Kurt Brinkman, their backs against the wall, voted against the implementation of the Bike Plan in November in a losing 2-3 vote.
In a Kafkaesque moment, the Tattler discovered in 2014 a different Bike Blvd, 45th Street, is also in violation due to too many cars, raising the specter of a whole new Tattler series of broken bike blvd promises from City Hall based on that street as well.

If the Bike Committee remains vigilant over 2015, perhaps residents next December 31st will be waiting on a study of the color options for the temporary bollards for Horton Street.  We'll just have to wait and see.  Check back on December 31, 2015 to get the latest report on Godot...uh...the Horton Street Bike Boulevard.

To view previous year end synopses click Deja Vu or Waiting for Godot in the labels below.

Here then is the September 29th, 2012 Tattler story:

Major Traffic Calming Long Past Due For Horton Street

Emeryville's premiere bicycle thoroughfare, the Horton Street Bike Boulevard, has so much high speed traffic that it has become unsafe for bicycling.  So says Alta Planning, a Berkeley based urban bike network design firm that was commissioned by the City of Emeryville to study bicycling in town.  The $200,000 study, now incorporated into Emeryville's Bicycle/Pedestrian Plan and adopted into law by the city council lays waiting, ready to be implemented.
The question is, will it really be implemented or will it languish in some dusty corner at City Hall as so many other expensive studies have done?  Given the city council's baleful history of failing to calm the traffic on Horton Street for bicycle traffic and working to improve the street for vehicle use at the expense of bicycling, it seems likely it will be ignored and will remain a major automobile thoroughfare, unsafe for bicycles and becoming increasingly more so over time.  

Central to the Alta study is a limit on the number of cars that may use Horton Street, set at 3000 vehicles per day, before a mandatory set of traffic calming procedures kicks in.  The idea is that the traffic calming fixes will lower the number of vehicles that use the bike boulevard down below the 3000 maximum.  It should be noted Emeryville's 3000 number earmarked for bike boulevards is larger than any other city in the Bay Area. 

A choker is an example of a 'neckdown'
called for by level 4 traffic calming.
The prescibed traffic calming comes in a series of increasingly interventionist levels, one through five, that reduces traffic volume and speed, the last such level resulting in a total diversion for through traffic.  Each level requires two years to adequately assess its efficacy.  

At this point, Horton Street has already gone through the first three traffic calming levels; these involve street stenciling, signage and intersection "bulb-outs".  Now, since traffic has not subsided on Horton (it's actually increased), it's time for level 4 traffic calming to be implemented according to the Plan.
Level 4 calls for "significant traffic calming", specifically, 'neck downs' or traffic limiters such as 'chokers', designed to act like a one lane bridge permitting only one car through at a time.

Here's what the Bike Plan calls for on Emeryville's bike boulevards:

Level 1 Basic Bicycle Boulevard- signs, pavement markings
Level 2 Enhanced Bicycle Boulevard- wayfinding signs, reduced delays at intersections
Level 3 Limited Traffic Calming- intersection bulbouts
Level 4 Significant Traffic Calming- neckdowns
Level 5 Traffic Diversion

Level 5 calls for diverters: This
is called out only if level 4 doesn't
work after two years.
The problem is the Bike Committee has already twice voted on significant traffic calming for Horton Street in years past.  Both times the city council has overridden the committee's findings.  The last time the committee voted unanimously to add such calming, councilwoman Nora Davis explained her veto to the committee, "I have no problem putting paint on the asphalt [pavement markings]" but anything more dramatic than that would draw a veto from her and consequently also from the council majority.

In the intervening two and a half years since the last council veto shutting down Horton Street traffic calming, the city has commissioned and now encoded the $200,000 Alta study.

While we acknowledge Ms Davis' forthrightness in explaining to the people why they shouldn't expect safe biking routes in town, we call on the rest of the council to abide by the new Bike Plan they have adopted.  The fact that other such documents have been subverted in the past by the council should not serve as a precedent for inaction on Horton Street.  It's never too late to start working towards livability and rational public policy.  Let's make bicycling safe on the Horton Street Bicycle Boulevard.  It's time for a choker on Horton Street.


  1. When are going to realize, we're not going to put diverters or anything else that will be a hinderance to cars on Horton St? Drivers are already too frustrated. And your unfair attack on John Bauters for his asking for realistic transportation policy makes you just what you are: a paranoid voice for extremists. This town is for ALL the residents and yes business too. Your shameful attacks on anybody that asks for realism here in Emeryville prove you're a bitter and paranoid nothing. Bikers can ride elsewhere, there's plenty of other streets for them. Horton is too valuable for developing our town into a wonderful place to live and work. We're not going to let you take it.

    1. Yes, realism...we need more of that. And what's that? According to some in town, you included it seems, is letting the developers have their way with us. Everything else is not real.
      That's a neat trick, you're seizing and holding of English words for your own exclusive use meant to serve your agenda...because, of course it could just as easily be said it's realistic to make the resident's interests sacrosanct and that would make the developer's interests unreal.

      And regarding the former City Council candidate John Bauters, what you're saying is to accurately report on him is to unfairly attack him. Another neat seem to be full of 'em.

  2. Let 2015 be the year that our City Council makes a renewed push for bike safety. The Adeline Street bike lanes and Doyle Street bike boulevard are examples of what the city can do.

    Horton Street needs to be addressed. The green stripe on 40th St. in Oakland ends at the Emeryville border. And don't get me started with San Pablo Avenue, a speedway created by lax enforcement of speed limits.

    1. Thanks, Will. Yes, let it. And there's real reason for hope what with our new progressive City Council majority and all. But warning; it's very unlikely we'll have a bike boulevard on Horton Street come 2016. After years of the former Council majority doing nothing towards delivering the Horton St Bike Boulevard, we're just now starting the clock on it. That means to get down to our 3000 max vehicle trips per day, we're going to have to do at least a year of Level 4 traffic calming before we can move on to the only solution that will likely work, that being diverters. So you can read the Tattler stories on it or just wait until December 31st 2015 for the synopsis going into 2016. 2016, though, looks to possibly be the year for Horton Street in my opinion. Look to the December 31st 2016 Tattler story for the celebratory story on our Horton Street victory.