Baysiders Brainstorm Old Arcata Road Safety – November 16, 2012

Friday, November 16, 2012

BAYSIDERS SHOW THEIR SAFETY CONCERN: Organizer Maggie Gainer had prepared nine tables in the Bayside Grange kitchen for attendees at the safety meeting. But that’s how many Baysiders turned up for what is supposedly the community’s pre-eminent – or at least most complained-about – public safety concern. So rather than have each person sit alone at a table, they held the meeting at one table in the corner. There’s another meeting this Sunday, Nov. 18 at 2 p.m. KLH | Eye

Kevin L. Hoover

Eye Editor

BAYSIDE –  Cars whizzed and roared at excessive speed down Old Arcata Road at Jacoby Creek Road last Thursday night, just as they are doing right now. That night, though, a small group of concerned and rather chilly Bayside Road residents huddled in the corner of the kitchen in the nearby Bayside Grange, trying to figure out how to slow them down.

Improving safety along Old Arcata and Jacoby Creek roads has been an ongoing concern and priority for years, the worry and irritation over speeders punctuated by occasional horrible vehicle accidents.

Now, though, there’s money behind getting some serious solutions in place. A  $2,000 Better Together Grassroots Grant was awarded by Humboldt Area Foundation for the Old Arcata Road Neighborhoods Safety Initiative.

Another meeting will be held at the Grange this Sunday, Nov. 18 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Situational status

The transition from 45 mph to 25 mph on northbound Old Arcata Road at Jacoby Creek Road is not well observed. Attendees at the meeting were appreciative of the new “Reduce Speed Ahead” sign posted there by the county. More appreciation was directed toward  Arcata Garbage’s Rick Fusi for moving recycling bins out of bike lanes.

Since appeals to community, safety and personal responsibility are not as effective as lumps of asphalt in getting people to slow down, the speeder-beleagured Baysiders are happy with the four speed humps on Old Arcata Road, and want another one.

Another factor proven effective is roadside foliage, in that it makes the road appear narrower. “What slows drivers down is landscaping, color, flowers,” said organizer Maggie Gainer. She and others would like the pump house on the corner by the Bayside Post Office to be re-landscaped to serve as a sort of gateway to the neighborhood to cue drivers to diminish their speed by 20 mph.

Attendees extolled the community-building power of the Bayside site (see page 3). “It’s really good for community building because you can list the things you do.” Greta

“It’s a mechanism for getting the word out fast for Bayside residents,” Gainer said.

While speeding is not confined to old Arcata Road, that street has the most popular mindshare. “The most productive thing to do is focus on what you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and work on,”  Gainer said.

Attendees discussed Manila’s speed problems and the solutions being adopted by residents there. Another idea was to schedule pace cars to insert themseves into traffic at critical times, and slow it down by driving at the speed limit.

The group is petitioning to get the speed limit in the 45 mph area reduced to 35 mph. residents are also being asked to display the unofficial “Drive 35 in Bayside” signs on their lawns.

Greta Montagne said that deeper issues  involve a lack of enforcement. “All these dopers in their giant trucks, they don’t care about the neighborhood,” she said. “They know there’s no cops around and they never get caught… Its kind of scary, though, because some of those guys are dangerous. They’re up here from Sacramento or the Bay Area and they don’t care.”

Another idea was to publicize a “Jackass of the Month,” with photos of offending vehicles displayed online.

Along with shaming, glares might play a role in taming speeders. “I practice my best stink eye,” said Kelley Kyle. “When people are on cell phones and texting, I’m gesturing. They think I’m crazy, but I’m not embarrassed.”

Hiring transportation activist Melanie Williams to conduct safety trainings was discussed. “She’s the best,” Gainer said.

Kevin Johnson wants a new stop sign at Jaconby Creek School. “A stop sign at the school could solve a lot of problems in that area,” he said, calling it a simple and inexpensive solution.

Montagne suggested anti-speeding bumper stickers, more neighborhood education, and continuing the walk to school program.

Third District Supervisor Mark Lovelace, joining the meeting late, said that the gateway could signal that drivers are going through a community. A new stop sign, he said, would be “pretty reasonable.”

“Increased signage doesn’t always work, and the more signs you have, the less effect they have,” said Ali Lee.

Reducing the proximity of speeding vehicles to pedestrians, while desirable, seems impractical, since it would requite a path through peoples’ yards or a separate route altogether.

Lovelace related his tale of being passed on the right by a speeding car, then seeing Buddhist prayer flags in the back window as the car veered past in the bike lane.