The City of Berkeley is considering whether additional steps are needed to clear up confusion caused by a large white crescent that the city painted on the pavement at the intersection of Solano and Colusa avenues, the city's transportation manager said Friday.
Patch reported Friday morning that the crescent on Solano — outlined in white and containing white stripes — had occasioned some online complaints and confusion. Westbound vehicles on Solano who want to turn left (south) on Colusa have to drive over the striped crescent, prompting the belief by some that such a left turn is no longer allowed. No signs are posted about whether such turns can be made.
Farid Javandel, Berkeley's transportation manager, told Patch Friday afternoon that left turns onto Colusa by westbound vehicles on Solano are still allowed and that it's okay to drive across the crescent.
"There's no prohibition against left turns," he said. "If that painted crescent were yellow, maybe it would be different."
"We're looking at whether there's anything we can do to clarify that," he added. One option might be signage of some type, he said.
He said the crescent was added in the fall as part of several changes at the intersection funded by a Safe Routes to Transit grant. A transbay bus stop sits just east of the intersection, located in North Berkeley's Thousand Oaks neighborhood.
The crescent is designed to address the problem of two eastbound lanes on Solano at that point merging into one after passing Colusa, he said.
The crescent turns the right lane on Solano into a right turn only lane and thus prevents vehicles from two lanes jockeying to merge at the same moment they are approaching a heavily used crosswalk across Solano, he said. The change is meant to improve safety for pedestrians and drivers alike, he said.
He noted that about a third of the eastbound traffic on Solano at that point turns right onto Colusa.
He also addressed another complaint from some residents that was reported in the Patch article Friday – that other changes to the intersection had made turning left onto Solano by northbound Colusa traffic more difficult. One commenter complained that parking spaces and a bike rack on the street in front of Peet's had reduced the area available for turning.
Javandel said the parking spaces have long been there, and that the bike rack was installed in dead space between the existing parking spaces and an existing sidewalk bulb-out. The spot where the bike rack was placed had not been accessible for cars making turns before the rack was installed, he noted.
He nevertheless acknowledged that the turning radius for a left turn onto Solano by northbound Colusa traffic has been reduced because the center line on Solano had been shifted slightly north to accommodate a widening of the sidewalk on the south side of Solano.
He said there is still adequate room for making the turn and the new configuration only slightly reduced what had been "an awfully wide lane."
"It's physically wide enough to make the turn," he said. "It's just going to feel like it's more constrained."
He said the city has not received any complaints about the turn or about the crescent. Patch found complaints in an online neighborhood discussion forum. Readers comments on the Patch article Friday also expressed confusion about the crescent.
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