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Thursday, July 7, 2016

45th & 53rd Streets: Mayor Says Emeryville's Bike Plan Will Not Be Implemented

Mayor: Settled Bike Plan Not Needed,
Will Be Superseded

45th & 53rd Streets Won't Get Bike Plan Treatment 

Emeryville’s Mayor Dianne Martinez announced recently she intends that City Hall’s certified Bicycle Plan be superseded and a new set of extralegal metrics, identified by her and not voted upon by the City Council, take the place of the Plan’s previously adjudicated traffic calming measures for our bike boulevards.  Ms Martinez said in an email that two previously scheduled street improvements not recognized by the Bike Plan will satisfy the requirements to limit the number of vehicles using both streets and that the Bike Plan is unneeded.  The sentiments relayed by the Mayor represent the first publicly professed retrenchment or abandonment of Emeryville’s five year old Bike Plan expressed by a City Council member even though in previous deeds the Council has shown a propensity to disregard the Bike Plan.
Emeryville Mayor Dianne Martinez
We need not be locked in by our
General Plan or our Bike Plan,
we can make stuff up as we go along.

The City of Emeryville has identified 45th Street and 53rd Street as Bike Boulevards and thus subject to a General Plan/Bike Plan mandated program of directing vehicles to other streets known as traffic calming, to assure bicycle safety for these bike priority corridors.  However 45th & 53rd streets have languished since 2012 when the Bike Plan was certified by the Council, the two streets saddled with too many cars to be considered bike boulevards by City Hall and no interest up until now has been shown to rectify the unsafe condition there. 

Regardless of a 2015 traffic study revealing the extent of the unsafe vehicle traffic, an amount of traffic in excess of what’s allowed by the Bike Plan, the City has remained unmoved, doubling down instead on their insistence to continue to ignore the problem.  This has come in the form of a recent email from Mayor Dianne Martinez to the Tattler explaining that the City’s Bike Plan need not be enforced at all for these two streets.
The Mayor says traffic calming is coming to the two streets independently of the Bike Plan; a traffic circle for 53rd Street and a new crosswalk for 45th Street even though these are not identified by the Bike Plan as legitimate traffic calming measures.  Ms Martinez refused to qualify the two unrecognized traffic calming solutions in her email, suggesting she believes traffic calming methods are all the same as far as reducing traffic is concerned.  She answered the Tattler in the email, “In short, the City has indeed initiated traffic calming for these two streets. The City has started working with Pixar to implement a mid-block crosswalk/traffic-calming measure on 45th. On 53rd, the Emeryville Center of Community Life is constructing a traffic circle, which is a calming measure”.

The Bike Plan's regime of traffic calming measures was commissioned by Emeryville in a study by Alta Planning of Berkeley at a cost of $200,000.

The Bike Plan, formulated over two years by Emeryville’s Bike Committee with public input and with help from Alta, provides vehicle traffic metrics for bike boulevards, taking pains to note too many cars on a bike boulevard is unsafe.  The Plan gives a detailed prescription for what to do if too many cars are using the boulevard; a specific suite of traffic calming measures with increasing intensity (Levels 1-5) is the remedy for an excess amount of traffic. 
Mayor Martinez is disregarding the democratically (and professionally) agreed upon process laid out by our Bike Plan stating other measures, not included in the Plan that happen to be forthcoming on the two streets that she herself has identified as traffic calming, are all that is needed. 

Vice Mayor Scott Donahue, who ran as a slate mate with Ms Martinez and as an advocate for bicycles specifically, refused to comment regarding the Mayor’s would be new City policy for 45th & 53rd Streets.

The traffic counts revealing the excess traffic for bike boulvards in the area, including the Horton Street Bike Boulevard, were conducted in 2015 as a condition of the draft environmental documents for the Sherwin Williams development project.  The Bike Plan requires the City to conduct its own traffic counts to monitor its bike boulevards but none have been conducted so far.  The Tattler revealed in 2015 through a Public Records Request of internal documents at City Hall that the Public Works Director Maurice Kaufman was attempting to hide the traffic study requirements from the newly hired City Manager Carolyn Lehr.  This year the City finally has funded money to conduct the required traffic counts beginning in 2018, presumably as a result of the Tattler investigation.


  1. You're really going after Dianne. You used to like her. What happened? You're saying Dianne is wrong. How do you know there won't be enough traffic calming with her traffic circle and crosswalk? How do you know Dianne is wrong? If you're wrong will you stop attacking her?

    1. It's true the Tattler has generally been supportive of Councilwoman Martinez. But when she forwards bad public policy, the Tattler will be there setting her right. That's true for all of them. We can't be relied upon to be a partisan for anyone.
      We don't know the Mayor will be proved wrong about her two new traffic calming methods. They could bring down the traffic to the amount the Bike Plan calls for. It's unlikely though. We know that because the traffic engineers at Alta tell us that. Public policy must be measurable, not capricious. What Councilwoman Martinez is offering is capricious. She's guessing and hoping her method will work. That's irresponsible public policy. The bigger question is why. Why won't the City Council just implement the Bike Plan? The Plan offers the only rational way from here to achieve our bicycling goals in Emeryville. This 'going rogue' thing of the Mayor's isn't rational. Let's hope this idea of hers for these two bike boulevards isn't infectious among her colleagues.

  2. I don't see a problem here. We elect these council members to do what they think is best. That's what the mayor sees. We should give her the benefit of the doubt and see how her solution works out.

  3. It seems like this blog hates everybody left, right and center. Mayor Martinez is a great council member. You don't have to agree with everything she does you know. You should support true progressives on our council and learn to see the bigger picture.

    1. As I said to the previous commenter, if you're take on this story or any other story is my hatred for the Mayor or her policies, then you've misunderstood me. Ideology aside, anyone that makes overt and direct campaign promises about substantive issues the electorate is concerned with, I expect that council member to at least tell us why she is breaking her promise. She doesn't even have to keep the promise...conditions might change that would preclude keeping the promise. She has to at least tell us why she can't keep the promise. That's a bright line. Otherwise, we might as well vote for anybody.

      I hate that Dianne Martinez (and Scott Donahue) has not kept her promise to honor our Bike Plan and she won't tell us why. Other than that, she's been a very good City Council member so far I think.

  4. You have neglected to disclose to your readers that you live at 45th and stand to directly benefit from this project. This might have been an oversight, but considering your track record of personal vendettas, I doubt it.

    1. Why would I disclose to my readers I live on a street that I don't live on? That wouldn't be a disclosure, it would be a lie.
      But going with the spirit of your comment, if I lived on 45th Street it would not be of any interest to my readers that I tell them that. I'm not an elected official nor is any money changing hands here, do you understand that? My goal with the Emeryville Tattler is to make every neighborhood in Emeryville better, including my neighborhood. I have neither the legal nor ethical nor moral duty to "disclose" where I live.
      I do live in Emeryville. But guess what? I'm going to continue on reporting the news here as I see fit, news that other Emeryville readers have an interest in. Don't like it? You have a remedy: take me to court and try and stop me that way.

      Oh and my "personal vendettas"? It's called 'speaking truth to power'... Reporting on the malfeasance and peccadilloes of elected officials and government employees. Again, you can try to take me to court for that but I don't think you'll get very far...good luck all the same. Thanks for your comment.

  5. Sorry, 45th/Horton, 45th/Holden whatever. What a very “Donahue” response.
    Do you realize you’ve written 45 stories about this subject? Yet you still don’t consider this a personal vendetta?

    1. Not 45th anything. Holden Street is not 45th Street. How very "Anonymous" of you to conflate these autonomous streets.

      A "personal vendetta" against a street? Never heard of that. 45 stories, well not quite but yes, I say the people should know their Bike Plan they paid for is being subverted. Telling people about how their money and their legitimate desires for their town have been subverted by their elected officials is a "personal vendetta"? Is that your definition? It's funny because most people would characterize 'personal vendetta' as pejorative but informing on malfeasance of elected officials as a good thing. Maybe you see things differently. Better that people should be in the dark on City Hall matters. Just trust them to do the right that it?

  6. I don't see any evidence of a traffic circle being put in on 53rd anywhere near the ECCL. When is that supposed to happen?