Safety Concerns on Mecartney Road

What happened to rules and manners?

To the Editor:

The other day I was walking down Mecartney Road on Bay Farm Island around 8:30 a.m. I was on the sidewalk, walking westbound, when I looked down the sidewalk and saw a man and his two dogs coming my way, and right behind him were two middle schoolers on their bikes. Yes, riding on the sidewalk. Important word: sideWALK. No shout out, no bike bell ringing, nothing.

So I stopped them and asked them to ride in either of the three bike lanes—one on either side of the street or the bike lane on the other side of the street near the sidewalk.

Alameda Post - a bike lane sign painted on a road

This is not a new problem. It happens all the time. And it’s not just kids, but adults too. In the shopping mall on Bay Farm there are posted signs saying, “No bike riding, no skateboards, no scooters,” but people do it all the time anyway. There is no regard for walkers of any age.

The sad thing is our local government has made it quite clear that bikers have the right of way anywhere in Alameda and Bay Farm. Parents don’t teach their children rules or manners.

As a biker myself, I ride in bike lanes and if someone is walking I ring my bike bell and shout out “On your left!” and then thank them for moving over. As an educator—now retired—I talked and taught rules and manners in my classroom.

Thank you for reading this. I hope parents will consider teaching their children proper etiquette.

Lynn Perata,
An Alameda Biker

A tragic reminder to slow down

To the Editor:

I was saddened but not surprised to hear about a pedestrian’s death after being struck by a driver on Mecartney Road on Bay Farm Island. This particular stretch of Mecartney is dangerous to cross any time of the day. It’s too wide, there are no marked crosswalks or pedestrian refuges, and the vehicle parking on both sides of the street obscures the view of pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers. Nevertheless, drivers routinely surpass the 25 MPH speed limit and attempt to pass cars before the lanes are reduced, even in the morning when the sunlight can be blinding.

Though Bay Farm is small and has no high-injury corridors, many of us have had near misses with drivers while navigating Bay Farm by foot or bicycle. This has the result of making people in Bay Farm feel unsafe to navigate on foot or by bike–at a time when we need to start relying more on active transportation due to climate change and health factors.

Since the city will prioritize more dangerous corridors, I am compelled to beg my fellow citizens to slow down and drive more carefully.

This Google street view shows the intersection of Marcuse Street looking east on Mecartney Road on Bay Farm Island.

Alameda has a low speed limit for safety, not inconvenience. According to one calculator, a driver going 25 MPH who reacted within 2 seconds to seeing a pedestrian cross the street would travel 103 feet before coming to a stop. The time to stop differs depending on the car’s weight and braking time, but it’s safe to say it takes a while.

We all lead busy lives and find ourselves late, stressed, or simply not paying attention when we travel, but the riskiness of this behavior varies drastically if one is driving versus walking. As a person who drives, I have to constantly remind myself to pay attention, slow down, and look. I’m not always perfect, but I hope that keeping these things in mind will prevent me from accidentally taking the life of another due to my own negligence. Remember, a few seconds saved is not worth the risk of killing someone’s child, parent, or grandparent.

Maria Piper,

Editorials and Letters to the Editor

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