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Council Candidates on Safety on the Roads

In the week starting on Oct. 22, Albany Patch will publish responses to five questions on cycling and walking posed to Albany City Council Candidates.

Click "Keep me posted" below for an alert when we publish items about the election. Don't forget to mark your calendar for two forums in October to help you meet the candidates. See our full Abany 2012 Election Guide here. Have more questions? Comment on individual candidate profiles to ask for more information.

Are you aware of the number of people that are injured on the roads in Albany each year? Do you think that conditions for bicycling or walking in our city could or should be improved?

ULAN MCKNIGHT (PATCH PROFILE)

In 2010 Albany had 12 bicycle injuries, 4 pedestrian injuries and one pedestrian fatality when a young man was hit while riding at night on his skate board. Our streets are safe but can be made safer. Striping of roads is in our Active Transportation Plan and we have already budgeted for it. Striping is a relatively quick and low-cost way to significantly improve our road safety for everyone.
Over the longer term I am a huge fan of Complete Streets (http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/complete-streets) and have worked with Planning and Zoning for years to create one on Dartmouth Street. Complete Streets are an excellent way to both create safer pathways and build community. What is not to love?

Pdf: http://www.chp.ca.gov/switrs/pdf/2010-sec8.pdf

PEGGY THOMSEN (PATCH PROFILE)

According to the CHP, to which local jurisdictions send their reports, in 2010 Albany had 71 people injured in vehicles and one died; 12 bicyclists were injured; 3 motorcyclists were injured; and four pedestrians were injured and one died. As long as there are any injuries or deaths, we need to improve the record. I support a public information campaign by the city on its website and in written materials encouraging safer driver and cyclist practices. I would also encourage safe driving and biking classes with collaborative partners such as the Y, library, or the Senior Center using volunteers.

NICK PILCH (PATCH PROFILE)

The Active Transportation Plan reports that 75 people walking were involved in collisions between 2001 and 2009, and 59 people biking. There were 2 pedestrian fatalities in 2007 and 2003. For 2010, there were 12 bicycle injuries, 4 pedestrian injuries, and 1 pedestrian fatality. This is the most recent compiled data from the state. http://www.chp.ca.gov/switrs/pdf/2010-sec8.pdf . This is more than a person a month in 2010.
Yes, conditions both can and should be improved. I do not believe Albany’s streets are sufficiently safe for people walking and biking currently. The Active Transportation Plan (ATP) identifies San Pablo and Solano as having the most accidents. The current complete streets study of San Pablo will hopefully refine the ATP’s proposal to significantly improve its safety, particularly at Brighton for people walking and Washington for people cycling. The City’s undertaking design of a new streetscape for Solano east of Masonic is an opportunity to make that stretch safer, which has a high concentration of people walking involved in collisions. I will seek to prioritize finding funding for implementation of these projects.

MICHAEL BARNES (PATCH PROFILE)

I am aware of the stats published in the Patch by Jonathan Walden and Preston Jordan, as I recall. Of course conditions should be approved, but that’s easier said than done. Getting measure F passed would help, and hustling some grants for safely improvements would be good, too. I suspect the city is doing that already. Alameda County’s Measure B1 would help, but it will require a 2/3 majority vote.
My priorities would be to improve crosswalk safety at night on Marin and San Pablo. Better street lighting would help, as would the recessed blinking lights that I’ve seen on crosswalks in places like downtown Petaluma.

TOD ABBOTT (PATCH PROFILE)

There is always room for improvement. We are experiencing what many, many other communities are experiencing — encouraging active modes of getting around while maintaining the automobile infrastructure that already utilizes about all the land we have available for transportation. That means lots of interaction of modes, and that means conflict — one in which the bicyclist or pedestrian almost always comes out the worse. Safe biking programs in the schools and other programs are a start, but more visible bicycle and pedestrian protection features — especially at the places where the modes of transportation are in direct conflict — are also needed.
I do think there are ample opportunities for improving conditions for walking and biking in Albany. One is obvious. Get the darn sidewalks fixed. I’ve twisted my ankle many times while walking around the city.
And there are many areas that are just a pain to access via a bicycle (especially when traveling with children, which I am often doing). I can manage going West on Buchanan — but coming back East is a mess. I’m very much looking forward to the bicycle improvements in that stretch that Albany Strollers & Rollers worked so hard to develop.
Conditions absolutely have to be improved. If we are going to meet our Climate Action Plan goals we must get more people choosing to walk or bike rather than drive.

PETER MAASS (PATCH PROFILE)

Absolutely. Many of our sidewalks are in terrible shape, and need to be torn up, redone and cleared of vegetation. Potholes in the roadways have a far greater effect on a cyclist then on driver. If separated bike paths were added to our main streets, I believe that bike use would increase dramatically.

SHERI SPELLWOMAN (PATCH PROFILE)

This is a great question. The Albany Police Department does not keep statistics of traffic accidents, but I found the reported accidents on the CHP website. The most current information is from 2010. According to the CHP, in 2010 Albany had four collisions involving injured pedestrians and one that resulted in a pedestrian fatality. There were 12 collisions involving injured bicyclists and 0 bicyclist fatalities. Last spring I remember there being a fatal accident involving an 18 year-old skateboarder. I walk and bike regularly in Albany with my two young daughters. I think the biking is particularly dangerous. There is a large cycling community in Albany and I think we could (and should) do a lot to improve safety and accessibility of cycling here. The City Council has already approved some much needed measures in our ATP, which I strongly support funding and implementing.

Click "Keep me posted" below for an alert when we publish items about the election. Don't forget to mark your calendar for two forums in October to help you meet the candidates. See our full Albany 2012 Election Guide here.

Tatter Salad October 27, 2012 at 03:17 AM
Sorry Caryl; I stand by my statement that Albany didn't know how good they had it when there was an elected Chief of Police. Prey tell: WHO put the change to the City charter on the ballot?
Caryl O'Keefe October 27, 2012 at 05:29 AM
Hi Tatter, I believe Council placed the measure on the ballot based on recommendation from Albany's Charter Review Committee. Apparently 2001 was not the first time it had been on the ballot. But the voters did approve it then.
Amy Smolens October 27, 2012 at 05:56 PM
@Bart Grossman, you said "Combining walking, running and biking in one path as on the Bay trail is very dangerous." You're right. For that reason the new and improved Ohlone Greenway will be 14 ft wide and separated into two one-way cycling lanes (4 1/2 ft wide each) and a five-foot wide ped lane. There will also be a decomposed granite shoulder on each side for runners and walkers to use. Some segments of the Bay Trail have this configuration as does the Crissy Field multi-use path, and the compliance rate is very high. AS&R created a petition (both electronic and paper) to show that this configuration was the preference of users. I personally got all the signatures on the Ohlone Greenway itself and I'd say that over 95% of all users (walkers, runners, dog-walkers, wheelchair users, cyclists, stroller pushers) said that this configuration would enhance safety. @Tatter, you express concern here and on other Patch posts that speeds of fast commuters "along the BART trail would be most unsafe for all." Agreed, which is part of the reason we advocated for narrower (4 1/2 ft) bike lanes there. As with roads for motorists, narrower lanes tend to facilitate slower speeds. Many fast cyclists will opt to use Masonic, especially during busy times on the Greenway. The Sharrows on Masonic mean that motorists should expect to share the roads with cyclists, so that helps create safer riding conditions. I hope the new configuration is implemented on the finished Greenway segments soon!
Brian Parsley October 27, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Maybe Nick, Ulan, and Sheri can explain how they support "Safety on the Roads" all the while placing dozens of their law signs in Berkeley, along the public median on Sacramento St, adding to driver distraction.
Kenneth October 27, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Tatter Salad, your comment reminds me of Dic Tuck's famous election concession "The people have spoken, the bastards."

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