Go on, admit it. You drive over 25 mph on Broadway—State Route 61. It’s easy to go over the speed limit there, particularly between Otis Drive and Encinal Avenue. The wide street, with only a distant stoplight, makes it feel like a highway.
Alameda resident Cross Creason is tired of the speeding on Broadway. On his blog Broadway25.org, Creason has started a petition aimed at slowing that traffic down. The petition advocates exploring all reasonable means to reduce traffic speed, noise, and safety risks on the street. I say, one possible solution lies in the right-turn lane from westbound Otis onto Broadway. A specially regulated right-turn arrow could calm the traffic, especially during rush hour—when people like to rush.
Some years ago, the city designated the lane as right turn only, and ever since it has become the preferred route, by design, for those traveling from Harbor Bay Island north through the city. To make the problem worse, vehicles also tend to drive at higher speeds with little resistance on Otis as they head toward Broadway. By the time they make the right turn onto Broadway, they have become accustomed to going over the speed limit.
At morning rush hour, there is a nonstop flow of traffic making that right-hand turn. Once on Broadway, the free sailing continues for another half-mile until Encinal or Central, depending on one’s luck with the lights.
As a traffic-calming measure, a special right-turn arrow that is shorter in duration than the regular light would interrupt the parade of vehicles. In addition, it would make conditions safer and easier for drivers leaving the side streets onto Broadway. There would be regular breaks rather than a constant stream of traffic. These breaks would be welcomed by drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians anxiously awaiting an opportunity, even a slim one, to cross Broadway from its side streets.
As a complement to the right-turn arrow, an additional four-way stop at San Jose would help remind drivers that they are not on a “real” highway, but are driving on a residential street.
Don’t get me wrong. If Alameda residents drove at the speed limit, we wouldn’t need to regulate the Otis to Broadway right turn or install another stop on Broadway. But sometimes it’s easier to just create the conditions for doing the right thing. At the very least, we could start with regulating the right-hand turns.
Originally published in Alameda Sun