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Residents Calm School Traffic With Impromptu Crosswalks

Citizens concerned about pedestrian safety and the lack of crosswalks took action this morning. Together they helped to coordinate and calm the flow of traffic of cars, bikes, and pedestrians heading to school. Cars often speed along Fifth Street during the morning commute hours. It’s also a popular route for parents to walk and bike to school with their children. After many years of concern and complaints from locals, there has been little response from the City to address the issue. Three frustrated Alameda residents decided to do something about it.

Alameda Post - Brian DeGrego and Susan Freeman provide impromptu crosswalks along Fifth Street
Concerned local citizens Brian DeGrego and Susan Freeman calm traffic along Fifth Street. They’re worried about the safety of kids on their way to school in the morning. Photo Adam Gillitt.
Note: The above photo’s caption originally identified Susan Freeman as Susan Jeffries. We have corrected the error and apologize for the misidentification.

Brian DeGrego, Rory Brown, and Susan Freeman set up at the intersection of Fifth Street and Taylor Avenue. It’s a complicated intersection. Taylor Avenue shifts about 25 feet to the South as it crosses Fifth Street heading West. The visibility from one side of the intersection is compromised, especially with a steady flow of bikes and people crossing. There is an official crossing guard at Fifth Street and Central Avenue, monitoring the zebra stripe crosswalk located there. However, the effect is only felt at that intersection, not further along Fifth Street.

Together they urged cars to slow down instead of hurrying down Fifth Street before school. The three acted as crossing guards to allow pedestrians and cyclists to cross the busy street. The effect was immediate, cars seen speeding away from the intersections at Santa Clara Avenue and Central Avenue, slowed down and / or stopped to let people cross.

“The City has promised to put in a crosswalk over four years ago,” DeGrego said. “Do we have to lose a child before this is done?” Pedestrians were quick to show gratitude. Many stopped to chat with and thank the three impromptu traffic guards. Drivers waved as they slowed down and acknowledged the efforts of the three.

Crosswalks an ongoing concern

Traffic and pedestrian safety are an ongoing concern in the city. Several local residents have been killed or injured by motorists in recent years, including Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan.

Recently the city announced that CalTrans will upgrade and improve crosswalks along Route 61. Sites will include locations along Encinal Avenue, Broadway, Otis Drive and Central Avenue. Facebook users were quick to point out many other locations needing new or improved crosswalks.

Zack Kaplan wrote, “A couple other intersections where these are needed are Buena Vista Ave. at Entrance Rd. and Lincoln Ave. at Stanton St. …Several pedestrians … have almost been hit by vehicles while crossing at these intersections.”

Tilly Jane wondered, “Why is there never any attention given to the crosswalk at Park and Eagle. There is a large apartment complex there housing children, seniors and disabled people that often use that crosswalk.”

And, Heather Little said, “We also need one at Pacific and Constitution. That curved, no visibility exit road is a deadly accident waiting to happen.” Constitution Way was recently renamed Wilma Chan Way in honor of the recently deceased County Supervisor.

The City maintains a page about Safer Streets on their website*, and encourages residents to suggest locations that need more attention by filing a report with SeeClickFix.

* At the request of the City’s Public Information Officer, we have changed this link, which previously pointed to Public Works’ page about Traffic Safety and Calming.

Adam Gillitt is the Publisher of the Alameda Post. Reach him at [email protected].

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