We have lived on the corner of Third and Santa Clara since September, 2003. There seems to be a lot of buzz going around about installing stop signs, etc. on our corner. I agree with some of the open discussion, but not all, for various reasons which I will explain below. I think it's time I shared our ideas on what we think needs to happen outside our front door.
This is a problem that we have been working on for 16 years with the City but the traffic situation is only getting worse. I have personally seen parents/drivers/students/neighbors driving too fast, many disregarding the STOP sign in front of 301 Santa Clara, high school kids walking down the middle of the street (before, during and after school), impatient parents blocking the intersections at Third/Santa Clara as well as Central/Third/Taylor, and speedsters racing up/down Third Street all day/night long, and weekends! I have personally witnessed accidents at both intersections and many near misses. It's annoying, frustrating, and dangerous.
We asked the City to send out traffic control several years ago to monitor traffic patterns throughout the day to try to fix all the problems mentioned. I think that needs to be done again because we certainly have more traffic in the area these days and we haven't seen much improvement in traffic control and very rare speeding violations being ticketed.
We asked for a traffic light to be installed at the corner of Central & Third to calm down the speeders that enter Third Street from that direction. That was not an option because of the cost and high number of buses running at the time. Currently, there are only 1-2 buses in the morning and afternoon so in my opinion this option should be revisited.
A traffic light at Central and Third with clearly marked crosswalks is especially important for pedestrians trying to cross the streets in various directions. It's very dangerous the way it is set up now!
Suggestions were made about adding a round-about at Central and Third to calm traffic before it spilled onto Third Street, but the buses wouldn't be able to maneuver through. I don't really believe that to be true but I'm not an expert on AC Transit.
We further suggested speed bumps be installed at various locations (before all intersections) on Third Street from Central to Pacific to slow down speeders, but were advised that Third is a major thoroughfare on the West End for emergency vehicles and speed bumps would keep first responders from getting to/from emergencies in a timely manner, so no speed bumps or additional stop signs. I'm not sure if that is still the case.
In my opinion, a key factor causing traffic in our area is that there are no clear markings or deterrents on Central to slow drivers down. I have almost been hit twice by cars going at a high rate speed, trying to pass me on the right as I turned right on to Third Street because they didn't see the triangle street marking indicating that it's a wide turn. That street marking is useless and most drivers ignore it anyway. Many drivers enter Third Street from Central at an already high rate of speed and head right up to Pacific with total disregard to speed limits and residential safety. It's a dangerous condition.
Adding a stop sign at Third and Santa Clara as suggested by other residents will only back up traffic in the mornings and afternoons when kids are dropped off or picked.
If drivers turn right on to Third from Central at a rate of speed are they really going to be able to stop in time at my corner or will they just blow through the intersection? It would be even worse on nights when there are games, etc., at the high school and on weekends when there are various activities scheduled. Cars can barely get through as it is and it is so congested that my car has been hit twice by parents trying to make U-turns on my corner! So, NO on a stop sign on our corner because that is not going to alleviate the speeding problem. Drivers need to be stopped before they enter Third Street from Central.
As far as the inconsiderate and poor behavior of the high school students (including garbage thrown on our lawn, graffiti on our fences, vulgar language used, loitering, etc.) I'm not sure what to say. We have been putting up with them for 16 years. Some years are better than others. It all starts with behaviors learned at home and at school. If it is a serious problem for residents I suggest they call the Alameda Police Department or the principal at Encinal HS to file a complaint and/or request police escorts to get them through the neighborhood. That's what we have had to do in the past.
My suggestions are these:
1. Ask the City Manager to send out traffic control to conduct a new review of our traffic issues; 2. add a stop sign or traffic light at Central and Third to calm traffic before drivers enter from Central; 3. consider adding a round about at Central and Third as a option to slow down speeders; 4. add a stop sign at Third and Haight which is about halfway between Central and Pacific to slow down speeders; 5. add clear pedestrian markings on every corner on Third between Central and Appezzato Way; and, 6. clearly mark BIKE LANES on Third from Central to Appezzato Way. Use neon lines to indicate lanes not just the bike logos which are impossible to see at night. Take a look at the City of Copenhagen and their use of bike lanes to protect bikers, pedestrians, and auto traffic. If they can manage an entire City of bikers and pedestrians and keep them safe, we should be able to come up with a solution for 4 blocks on the West End.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to working with the City of Alameda and our neighbors to come up with a viable solution to all of our concerns.