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Thursday, April 1, 2010

West & Brinkman: Bike Boulevard Should Stay

Bicycling takes a hit
What are they willing to do now to save biking on Horton?

Council members interviewed
Emeryville's newest council members said they would do what it takes to keep bicycling safe on Horton Street, even if that means forcing cars from the narrow street.
Both said they would support the installation of traffic barricades or "diverters" if recommended by a traffic engineering firm set to study travel patterns.
Recently elected Councilman Kurt Brinkman praised 'traffic calming' measures taken in the Triangle neighborhood, saying they have made the area a "safe place to walk" and that prior to the installation, Adeline Street, was "nothing less than a drag strip with cars racing through the neighborhood." The comments suggest Mr. Brinkman would support moves to bring a similar level of safety to Horton Street, the city's main crosstown bicycle route.

Both Mr. Brinkman and colleague Jennifer West agreed that the recently approved 'Transit Center' office tower will bring a large number of vehicular commuters to the Horton Street Bike Boulevard, where the nine story office tower and garage will be built. Both support the city's hiring of a traffic engineering firm to address the problems. Both also said that safety is paramount to encourage cycling on Horton.

The two council members back a unanimous decision by the city's Bike/Ped Advisory Committee that Bike Boulevards should have consistent standards for vehicle speed, volume and signage, across municipal boundaries. A consistent East Bay network of such roads improves safety and encourages regional bike commuting.
Both council members told the Tattler that they will give great deference to traffic experts, especially when taxpayer funds are spent to implement their recommendations. Both also said they would support diverting traffic if that is what is recommended.

For decades advocates on the city's Bike/Ped Committee have worked to create a viable, direct and safe bike corridor through Emeryville.

Planned bike paths and routes along a former railroad spur just east of Hollis Street and a second route along Shellmound Street were cast away by city officials believing the codified plans impeded development. The committee floated a 'Horton Street Bike Boulevard' as a third best alternative.

Hoton, once connected to Overland Street is the last such route possible for cyclists traveling north or south through Emeryville. After the committee completed planning the bike boulevard in 2003, it received a series of rebuffs from the council. Horton Street it turns out, is highly contentious. Developers demanded the council scale back bike route plans in favor of maximizing the street for cars.

Safety concerns; cars to flood Horton Street
The Bike Committee unanimously voted that for reasons of safety and to encourage regional bike commuting, city council action needs to protect Horton Street for biking. The problem now is what to do with the many hundreds of cars that will use Horton Street generated by the freshly approved Transit Center at Horton and 59th Streets. Without the application of traffic calming methods, Horton is now on a path to go the way of the other streets; not safe for bike use.

1 comment:

  1. If Wareham Development wants traffic calming, we'll get it. If they don't, we won't. Simple as that.