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Friday, November 21, 2014

Horton Street Bike Blvd: Brinkman, Davis say NO

After Nine Years Planning,
After Countless Volunteer Hours,
After Countless Paid Staff Hours,
After Voting $200,000 for the Bike Plan,
After Certifying the Finished Plan,
Nora Davis & Kurt Brinkman 
Call Bike Plan 'Unrealistic'

"We're going to make people ride a bike?"
-Nora  Davis

Council members Nora Davis & Kurt Brinkman told residents they don't understand Emeryville's Bike Plan Tuesday night, the same plan they themselves voted for in 2012 and then they said the Plan doesn't sound any good.  And then they both voted NO to its implementation.  It was an astonishing Council meeting drama even though ultimately the Plan's implementation was agreed upon by the other three Council members.  The two Council members said the Horton Street Bike Boulevard, a part of the Plan and the object of Tuesday's vote, is not something they can now support even though no new information about it had come to light.  No hidden traps or obscured pitfalls or lurking poison pills have been revealed about the planned Horton Street Bike Boulevard by the staff.  The only change that was revealed was Nora Davis & Kurt Brinkman's change of heart right at the moment of implementation.

The NO vote by these two was nine years in the making but if it were in the works all that time, they kept it to themselves.   Still, they offered no reasons for their reversal on Horton Street the two have ostensibly supported for the last nine years.

Horton St Bike Blvd: Hand Finally Forced
The sudden reversal is remarkable given that the two Council members have been moving this Horton Street bike project forward by asking for more time to study it over the years then voting to spend $200,000 of the taxpayers dollars to prepare a Plan drafted by Berkeley's Alta Planning.  The two Council members (and their colleagues) urged on the City Staff to spend lots of billable hours on the Horton Street Bike Boulevard, figuring out precisely how to implement it, studying its implications.  Hundreds of hours in citizen volunteer time was brought to bear on the formulation of the Plan in general and Horton Street specifically by the City's Bike Committee at the behest of Ms Davis and Mr Brinkman.  By Tuesday, the two Council members had run out of stalling options.  The Council had to finally vote to implement required traffic calming measures for the street as called for in the Plan they certified in 2013.
And they both voted NO, feigning ignorance about what they were voting on and implying the Plan is somehow too radical and extreme.
Councilwoman Nora Davis
"I'm confused about what
we're doing.
We're going to make people
ride a bike?"

Agenda Revealed
The clownish theatrics of Davis/Brinkman Tuesday night was a ploy. We think these two cowardly Council members never had any intention of allowing a bike boulevard for Horton Street and they've just been stalling for time all these years hoping for a three vote majority to finally kill it in the end.  Indeed, they both expressed desire to stall the vote again on Tuesday, citing need to continue studying the Plan.  But the other Council members finally had heard enough apparently and the latest iteration of the Davis/Brinkman stalling gambit was overridden.

The business sector, the self admitted raison d'etre for Davis & Brinkam have kept up a constant background chorus against the Horton Street Bike Boulevard especially Wareham Development and the two faithful servants have done their best to forward business interests but in the end, they simply ran out the clock.

Council Candidate
John Bauters

"We have to be practical."

Emeryville is a shopping 
and jobs center and the 
Horton Street Bike Blvd 
isn't compatible he says.
Too bad for him the in-commuting 
workers and shoppers aren't 
allowed to vote in our elections.
Perhaps as a demonstration meant to show Emeryville residents how close was the bullet dodged in the last election when they rejected him, recent Council hopeful John Bauters put in his two cents calling for "realism"in the Horton Street Bike Boulevard debate.  He went on to explain that the Bike Plan provisions for reducing traffic volume on Horton Street should be rescinded. Throwing in with the Chamber of Commerce and outgoing Councilman Kurt Brinkman, Mr Bauters reminded the Council that people come to Emeryville to jobs and to shop and that's who we need to build our city for, not the residents.  He noted Horton Street should be kept clear for cut-through traffic for shoppers wanting to bypass more crowded streets.  He spoke to the need to increase the efficiency of vehicle traffic, not to decrease it as a bike boulevard would do.  There's already lot's of traffic he said and these workers and shoppers have a "patience threshold" and any increase in the frustration of drivers is unwarranted.  "We'd like people to ride bicycles but we have to be practical" he said.

We thank Councilwoman Ruth Atkin for sticking by her campaign pledge to improve biking in Emeryville and serving as the swing vote on the side of bicycling in our town.  And good governance.

The horribly cynical vote by the Binkman & Davis duo though is a fitting last tribute to the dark force that is Kurt Brinkman on our City Council.  After nine years, as Mr Brinkman readies his departure in December, we are relieved the reign of this dark force on our Council is finally coming to an end.  Going forward, we urge Councilwoman Davis, left without a second, to get with the program.  Emeryville residents want safe bicycling here.  They want the Horton Street Bike Boulevard.  They should have what they want.  They're going to get it despite the nine years of procrastinating by their decision makers.  Justice delayed is justice denied but at least we're finally going to have justice.  As Councilwoman Jennifer West indicated Tuesday night, it's time to finally get moving on the Horton Street Bike Boulevard.


  1. This is believable, as unbelievable as it is. It seems too much even for Davis and Brinkman. You got it right, stalling. That's what they've been doing. They never were going to vote for this.
    And John Bauters, wow, just wow. I didn't vote for him and this news makes me glad of it. I hope he stays clear of my city hall at least as somebody with power.

  2. This "blog" never ceases to amaze me. Clearly the sounding horn for RULE, it's no better than Fox News. Purely biased and unresearched entertainment for those that sit to one extreme. From all my years living in Emeryville, I have yet to read one article that can remain objective and open to alternative points of view other than its own. What a joke!

    I happen to agree with Brinkman and Davis. Enough research needs to be done before blindly going forward with projects and not knowing the full impact on ALL people that enjoy our city.

    Some word to the wise for those that support this type of thinking: Be careful what you wish might get it.

    1. ALL the people except those that live here.

    2. I don't agree with everything the previous commenter said, but on the Fox News comparison, you're spot on. In the previous entry about RULE, Brian featured many quotes, but few sources. That's an old Fox News trick: "Some people are saying..."

    3. Except the story doesn't use that "trick". But don't let lack of facts get in your way of leveling criticism.

      RE Fox News. That organization claims they're "fair and balanced". The Emeryville Tattler makes no such claim. We're biased. It says so right in the mast head: "The Emeryville commons, from the resident's perspective" As in; not from other perspectives. That's called bias.

  3. On this one, I agree with Nora. And, candidate Bauters got it right, too. Maybe, in their vast experience, they know something that you don't.

    1. Yes, they know how to campaign for resident's interests and then work in the developers/businesses interests once elected. It's a pretty old trick, actually. I recommend the book "What's the Matter With Kansas" by Thomas Frank to find out all about this playbook.

    2. All hail Queen Nora, Emperor of Emeryville and Protectorate of America!

  4. Emeryville is going to have to deal with both bikes and cars for a long time to come. But despite a history of accommodation to cars, some people are being very vocal that it hasn't been enough.

    The past has shown that the more accommodations we make to cars, the more car traffic we get. And the more accommodations we make to bikes, the more bike traffic we get.

    Sure, a lot of people need to get around in their cars. But before the amount of auto traffic becomes any more unhealthy, let's make a few more accommodations to bikes. If done right, measures that encourage cycling will take some cars off the road--leaving more room for everyone else.

  5. Sometimes, even clowns cry.