Buchanan Street Bikeway/Traffic Calming

Below is an archive of previous reports on the Buchanan project, prior to 2012. Stay tuned for more.

The “Complete Streets” concept for Buchanan Street, as proposed by Preston Jordan, will be agendized at an upcoming Traffic & Safety Commission meeting. They have not set a date for this but it is a priority for the T&SC members.

On Monday, July 20, 2009 the City Council approved the 35% plans as drawn up by the consultants, and approved a resolution to move forward with a grant proposal to complete the design and build Phases I and II of the project (from Cornell to Jackson St.)

The most recent meeting re. this project was Buchanan/Marin neighborhood meeting at the Community Center on Wednesday, April 22, 2009. There were 10 residents (including Nick,) a rep of the fire dep’t, Bill Burton, Aleida Andrino-Chavez, Ann Chaney, Randy Leptien.

Bill gave the residents an excellent overview of the project, explaining Class 1 & Class 2, and stressing the importance of this particular project in Alameda County in order to close a crucial bike route gap. Using the plans, he went over all the options of each segment of the project. He fielded questions at all points of his presentation and was very clear, honest and accessible.

The majority of the residents were from the Buchanan area. They were all most concerned w/ two aspects: not losing parking on the north side of Buchanan and attempting to calm/slow traffic. Once they heard that no options would cause them to lose on-street parking on the north side of Buchanan, they let out audible sighs of relief.

Re. their desires to calm/slow traffic, they made comments like “it’s like a freeway” and when Bill explained that bulbouts, narrowing the traffic lanes and other aspects of the plan would have a calming effect, they were happy about that. They were also happy about the planned SR2S Solar Speed Feedback signs. Ann mentioned undergrounding utilities, but didn’t imply that was imminent. Randy did mention the Traffic Calming Master Plan and how the bike/ped path and bike lane fit in with this and the residents were all for it.

One woman had a question about the height of the buffer landscaping between traffic and the south side bike/ped path. She was worried that homeless could sleep there… The answer was that it would be no higher than 3 ft.

Of the three Buchanan options, Option #2, the Pierce signal with a ped/cyclist button, was a clear winner, as it is with AS&R. The residents feel that the Pierce signal will slow Buchanan traffic in general. One guy wanted a Taylor signal with the underpass option, but Bill explained that a Taylor signal isn’t warranted so they could never get that without the path crossing there. Everyone realizes that for many reasons that doesn’t make any sense. Also, no one wants to ride up a 14% grade that the Cleveland/underpass option requires so the Pierce option was a unanimous choice. Fyi, I spoke to a few of the residents separately, blowing my cover but creating some good will (they might bring their bikes to be tuned up Sunday…) It did seem that some of these Buchanan area residents would use the path and/or lane to access the Bay Trail, although a few didn’t even know of the underpass crossing of the freeway onramp (I think better signage there would help.) But in general, they favoured the project.

One woman attends church on lower Marin and her son owns a few homes there. She was concerned about losing parking on Marin when the bike lane is built so as we all expected, supports the option in which a few trees are sacrificed and the parking stays.

The rep from the fire department told Bill, Randy and Ann that he was representing the fire chief and the fire chief doesn’t want a bike lane passing in front of the Fire House, which it would do on the Marin spur, west of San Pablo, because of fire trucks pulling out. He really didn’t make any sense… Bill, Randy and Ann all pointed out that if there is no bike lane cyclists will just ride on the road and will be in the same place, only in traffic. The fireman (didn’t get his name) said that cyclists won’t stop if they hear a siren… “Cyclists don’t stop.” I said “I’m a cyclist and I stop.” Bill pointed out that cyclists actually hear sirens more clearly than motorists locked into a steel car but fm didn’t seem to listen. Fm made noises about wanting the car lanes to be wider… None of this makes sense and I think it will all be worked out.

Fyi, some Jackson St residents spent the good part of an hour arguing about the somewhat-related Jackson St left turn lanes, saying it will cause Jackson to become more of an option for motorist cutthroughs to avoid San Pablo by zooming down their residential street, and they would lose parking on Jackson. To be honest, that took up a great deal of discussion time and monopolized the end of the meeting. No one had any objections to the bike/ped path and the bike lane in general and Bill was able to address the questions they had.

Afterwards, I asked Bill and Randy how they would deal with the right-turn lane from eastbound Buchanan onto San Pablo when the bike path is to the right (south) of it and they actually hadn’t thought of that…. Obviously, cyclists attempting to cross San Pablo would get t-boned by right-turning cars. So we, along with Aleida, discussed it and determined that having a signal with a ped/cyclist button, and a red right arrow for cars would be necessary. Of course, there are many details to be worked out but Bill was thankful that I’d brought that up and wrote notes about that aspect. Just goes to show you that as obvious as some things seem, cyclists see things that others don’t. Maybe John Ciccarelli had thought of that, but it wasn’t on Bill’s radar until last night. He really gave an excellent presentation, explained things well to everyone and answered all questions with respect. I remain very happy that the city (with help from us) selected him to head up this project.

This also shows that Preston is right, that we should really have a representative at every meeting for every project that concerns us. We can speak to residents and understand what everyone is thinking. Our perspective is important and I think that the more common our presence is, the more respect we gain with city staff and committee/commission members.

More to come, I’m sure.
Report by Amy Smolens

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