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Sunday, May 1, 2016

The City of Emeryville is Anti-Bike

The City Staff Thinks Bikes Are OK*
*as long as they don't inconvenience vehicles

 Mayor, Vice Mayor 
Have a Staff Infection

Emeryville Mayor Martinez
Agrees with the staff:
Now is not the time
to implement the Bike Plan.
She's been infected.
The people of Emeryville want a bike boulevard on Horton Street.  How do we know that?  Well, for one, because it's specified in our city's General Plan and our GP is the most democratically vetted GP of any in the Bay Area.  Our GP even won an award for the record high levels of support from the residents.  Further and more compellingly we know the people of Emeryville want a bike boulevard on Horton Street because that's what they directly voted for in November of 2014 when they cast their votes for Dianne Martinez and Scott Donahue both of whom were definitive at the time: a vote for them is a vote for the Horton Street Bike Boulevard they assured us.
The people like the idea of the Horton Street Bike Boulevard but the staff at City Hall sure doesn't.  In fact they've worked for years trying to make sure the traffic calming provisions spelled out in our Bike Plan don't come to pass on Horton (or any other street in Emeryville designated as a bike boulevard).

Vice Mayor Donahue
Agrees with the Mayor.
He's also infected.
The citizens voted for Dianne and Scott, finally getting a City Council majority that appeared to support the resident's desires for a bike boulevard on Horton Street....that's good.  But we were saddened when the two voted down the Bike Plan provision for traffic calming at the now infamous April 5th City Council meeting vote covered by the Tattler.  What's up with that?  They were very clear before the election they would vote for Level Four traffic calming as the Bike Plan delineates and then they reversed themselves and supported the staff who says NO to Level Four calming claimed to be something too restrictive against car traffic.

Staff Infection
The Mayor Dianne Martinez and the Vice Mayor Scott Donahue have been infected by virulent anti-bike sentiment festering at City Hall; they have a staff infection.  After listening to the residents before the election, now they're listening to the staff.  Whereas before they thought there should be a process and we should follow the General Plan's remedy for too much car traffic on bike boulevards, now they think like how the staff thinks; the General Plan is too radical, especially as it pertains to bike boulevards.  Dianne and Scott have joined a long procession of City Council colleagues who have been similarly infected: OK applying stencils to the streets or putting up purple bike boulevard signs but once drivers begin to become inconvenienced, well that's "too extreme" as the City Manager likes to put it.

The lengths the staff is willing to go to stop the Bike Plan's traffic calming is pretty exceptional.
To wit:
The Staff
Their effect is corrosive and infectious on the
body politic if the Council doesn't inoculate
themselves with the disinfectant of 

independence and allegiance to the people.
What's also exceptional is the fact that our two newest Council members are so unexceptional; so far no Council members have shown a willingness to go against the staff on bike boulevards.  But what sets the Mayor and Vice Mayor apart is the iron clad promise they made to voters they would implement Level Four traffic calming on Horton Street if elected.  Other Council members have made vague references over the years to their support of the Bike Plan and about how much they like bicycling and other innocuous stuff.  Dianne and Scott bumped it up a notch with a specific promise.

We're still not sure why this overt bait and switch has happened (other than another outbreak of staff infection).  Vice Mayor Donahue has so far refused to comment.  Mayor Martinez has told the Tattler that while she agrees the staff has a jones against bike boulevard traffic calming that she doesn't share, she's too weak to stop them (presumably) and that Level Three traffic calming is the best we can do, "a bird in the hand..." and so on she said.

After a year and a half with these two progressives on our City Council, we've been worried that the same old pattern would repeat itself.  The fact that there's been no shake up at City Hall has proved to be a harbinger of the status quo being unperturbed by the new condition of a progressive Council majority.  One would expect a radical new direction selected by the voters to be reflected in a new culture at City Hall but these two decided to keep the same crew on.  The same department heads selected by the long ensconced pro-developer Nora Davis council majority have been left be in their corner offices, their power undiminished.  The resultant push back against Level Four traffic calming for Horton Street is what one would expect in such a scenario.

At least two more bike boulevards, 45th Street and 53rd Street, are now over their traffic thresholds and are over due for traffic calming as mandated by the Bike Plan.  After the progressives on the council joined their conservative colleagues in opposing the implementation of Horton Street traffic calming, we expect they'll do likewise for the other bike boulevards.  Barring some major change, we can't see the Bike Plan mandated traffic calming (over level three) being implemented for any street.

Emeryville; the more things change the more they stay the same.  Where's our Jonas Salk?  We're pretty discouraged here.


  1. Like with the community swimming pool, building infrastructure is a messy and time consuming process. You need to show patience. There is every sign the city will build the required amenities for this bike route.

    1. "Show patience"? The Bike Committee has been trying for traffic calming on Horton St SINCE 1998. And the signs the City is showing are the purple bike blvd signs...they're just not doing the necessary work to actually build a bike blvd. They have no problem putting up signs.

  2. But you told us to vote for these two. Now whats happened to your heroes? Could it be that the tattler was wrong?!?

    1. Actually, the Tattler never endorsed these two candidates. We have certainly praised them when they have done good by the residents and we generally do support them. But on the issue of bikes with these two...yes, you are correct, the Tattler was wrong. We DID think they would honor their campaign promises.

  3. Hi Brian - It's a probable guess where Nora Davis stands on this, but where does Jac Asher stand?

    Bob Hughes

    1. Councilman Donahue identified himself as the bike candidate and I think Councilwoman Asher is supporting the progressive majority (as she should do). I think she's going with what he wants.

  4. You're saying this is what the people of Emeryville want but if they really did care about it they would let the council know. I think the people don't care as much as you think they do. Maybe time to move on to another subject.

    1. Well, they care enough to vote every two years for candidates that claim to want to make biking a viable transportation option. They care enough to turn out in large numbers to help write our General Plan. But you may have a point; they don't seem to care enough to push back against the Council members when they fail to do what they said they would do for bicycling in Emeryville. It's a judgement call at this point, but you raise a good point.
      But having said that, the people still have a right to know that the Council is going back on their promises, even if the people don't really care about the specifics of the promises. Every time a politician breaks a campaign promise, that's newsworthy.

  5. I remember being chastised and nearly escorted from the Council Chambers when I pointedly informed those being vexed by the minutia of the General Plan, that aside from containing lots of buzzwords, that the document was worthless. No sooner had this "democratic process" (chamber of commerce, developers get the loaf, the public gets a few crumbs), concluded, that the document would be relegated to a file cabinet in a locked storage room in the basement of city hall, to never be consulted again. I suppose I was wrong---the 'community goals' just get 'amended' into oblivion. Perhaps a charter amendment designating the Planning and Public Works directors as elected offices is in order, as the council majority appears powerless, passive and submissive...