More than 85 residents gathered to discuss the future of Fernside Boulevard at a community workshop at Edison School on Monday, December 4. The City-hosted event kicked off public engagement for the Fernside Boulevard Traffic Calming & Bikeways Project and served as an open forum for neighbors to identify issues and voice opinions that will inform the development of a new roadway concept for the corridor.
Pat Plowman, who lives on Fernside Boulevard near Fairview Avenue, said speeders are the primary issue. “They cross over the solid yellow line and pass in the bike lane going 60 miles an hour!” Plowman said.
“The changes on Shore Line [Drive] made a big difference for going across Alameda. Now it’s much more civilized because it slows people down,” added local resident Jon Hamilton, suggesting that a similar design may be useful on Fernside.
David Parisi of Parametrix, an engineering consulting firm that is leading the Lincoln/Marshall/Pacific and Grand Street redesign projects, gave a background presentation highlighting existing conditions along the 1.3-mile study section between Tilden Way and Lincoln Middle School.
Parisi discussed collision and traffic speed data that quantified many of the concerns of those living along Fernside. From 2017 through 2021, there were 22 recorded injury crashes, one of which was fatal. As such, the City has designated Fernside a “high-injury corridor” for all modes of travel. In particular, the collision rate on the segment between High Street and Tilden Way is three times greater than the state average, according to Parametrix.
The issue could be attributed to speeding. Parametrix found that the average speed on Fernside is 30 to 31 mph and the 85th percentile speed—a key metric used in traffic engineering to gauge speeding—is 35 mph, which is well above the 25 mph speed limit.
The project also will reimagine bike travel along Fernside, which is part of Alameda’s “2030 Low-Stress Backbone Bikeway Network” and the San Francisco Bay Trail. The City’s Active Transportation Plan calls for a separated bike facility along the corridor, which typically places bike lanes curbside and “protects” them with a combination of parking, curb stops, and traffic delineators.
Jimmy Jessup, a Parametrix transportation engineer, asked attendees to consider the preferred bikeway type as well as a toolkit of strategies that could potentially calm traffic on Fernside, including high-visibility crosswalks, rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFBs), or bulbouts.
“We want to know which strategies are the most useful,” Jessup emphasized. “What do you want to see on Fernside?”
Connie Chapman, who lives near the intersection of Fernside Boulevard and Central Avenue, considers Fernside a “pseudo-freeway” after sunset hours. “I support additional flashing beacons and more visible stop signs,” she said. “Speeding is the biggest issue.” She noted that current conditions endanger students walking and biking to Lincoln Middle School.
Basem Istanbouli, who commutes frequently by bike along Fernside Boulevard, appreciated the ability to influence bike safety. He said he supports a robust cycling network in Alameda.
On large aerial maps of Fernside, attendees were asked to leave post-it comments highlighting ideas and problems.
“Flashing lights/rumble strips/extra attention to stop signs + crosswalks along ‘safe route to school,’” read one comment.
“NIGHTMARE INTERSECTION,” (all caps) read another, referring to Fernside Boulevard at Garfield Avenue.
A virtual community workshop will be held on December 11 at noon for those who were unable to attend Monday’s in-person event. The City is also soliciting thoughts via an online survey through December 17. Following these initial rounds of outreach, Parametrix will develop draft concepts and return for an additional round of outreach in spring 2024.