Op-Ed: Say ‘no’ to road rage on Solano Avenue

By Jennifer Pearson

Jennifer Pearson has lived in Berkeley since 1965. She trained as a criminologist, did sociological field work on a prison for women in Mexico City, worked in pre-schools, Head Start, Coop Stores, and Women's Refuge, was aide to County Supervisor John George, and taught Crime Prevention and History of Corrections and Punishment in Mexico and California.

Has anyone shared the sentiment: “We are not going to take it anymore!”

Has anyone noticed the “State law… yield to pedestrians” mid-road yellow floppy bollard signs that are trashed, bent down — destroyed by angry drivers on Solano Avenue? Is this a spontaneous expression of mature activists furiously battering down public property? Individuals or organized?

Are these civic-minded residents fed up — ‘fighting back’ — shocked over the latest imposition of recent street reconfigurations that put cars on a “road diet” by “taking out” a lane that forces a confusing round-about driving route through residential neighborhoods?

Drivers and pedestrians say they have already had to put up with the unreasonable non-accommodation of angled parking on the hilly upper Solano thoroughfare. Not senior friendly nor smart for the able-bodied with mobility, balance and fear of falling concerns.

Angled parking design contributes a new set of hazards that parallel parking does not. Drivers backing out may not see pedestrians, nor oncoming cars, as visibility is limited by a blind spot. Pedestrians attempting to cross the road or get around their cars are at risk from the backing out or oncoming traffic. Angled parking on a hill poses an additional risk of falling down while trying to prop the door open and get around it without denting the next car then navigating the two-way sloped aisle to get up onto the curb.

Not teenagers, the rebels may be respectable homeowners — elders who retired their bicycles and now drive down from the hill?

If the bollards signage is intended to protect pedestrians, why do many pedestrians smile when they see the broken floppy signs on the pavement — some cheer — some shout “BRAVO Stop taking our streets!”

(My source, a retired Caltrans engineer, says the signs cost $250 each plus labor.)

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  • Vladislav_Davidzon

    Sounds like a few video cameras would go a long way towards bringing accountability to these criminals.

  • Mbfarrel

    Calm down, it will all end Friday.

  • Mbfarrel

    Send in the drones, there have to be drones…

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

    I like it…Big brother drones will stop this nonsense!

  • Noratorious

    Although I agree that it can be very frustrating to deal with all the traffic controls in Berkeley, I disagree with your opinion on the angled parking at the top of Solano primarily because this organization of parking allows for significantly more spots to park in, when compared with parallel parking spots. That benefits everybody.
    Parking on a hill is challenging regardless of whether the vehicle is parallel to the street or at an angle to it. Changing the design would not make it any easier to exit a vehicle on a steep hill.
    As for blind spots and car door proximity, I don’t think that argument holds much weight since we park in spots next to other cars all the time in parking lots and so forth. Also, handicapped parking spaces are designed for extra room to exit. If it’s a big issue, increasing the width of a parking spot and/or the number of handicapped spots could probably mediate that with minimal negative outcome.
    I suppose my point is that the benefit of the substantial increase in parking spots far outweighs the cost of what are probably considered minimal risks. At least, according to the City.

  • Kunga52

    Making at least the upper part of Solano Avenue automobile free — with bicycles, pedestrians and buses only — seems entirely feasible to me… the only “rage” then would be those who cut in line at Peet’s. ;-)

  • Charles_Siegel

    I have seen lots of those signs that are not broken in other parts of the city. Maybe there is just one crazy who is breaking them on Solano.

    Having crossed at intersections before and after they had those signs, I can assure you that they do protect pedestrians and do encourage drivers to obey the law.

  • Better that they hit cones rather than pedestrians and quadripeds; I envy the slowness and relative politeness on Solano, compared to the freeway egress and ingress behavior on Dwight.

  • anon

    > Is this a spontaneous expression of mature activists furiously battering down public property?
    Um, what?

    >Not teenagers, the rebels may be respectable homeowners — elders who retired their bicycles and now drive down from the hill?
    I’m guessing you are one of these_ or the only one_ or is this just wild conjecture? It could just as equally be crazy gangsters from LA, you know? We should consider that…

    >why do many pedestrians smile when they see the broken floppy signs on the pavement — some cheer — some shout “BRAVO Stop taking our streets!”

    These people sound like they don’t have enough to do with their time… I don’t think I’ve ever cheered or shouted over a knocked down traffic sign, and I tend to be pretty anti-authoritarian.

  • ChrisJ

    Migod, I sure hope that I don’t sound like that when I’m much older like the OP. often enough I’m thought of as a curmudgeon at 59 but OP takes the cake.

  • Truth Sayer

    Not good enough. If you are going to do the job, do it right. call in air strikes on the lawbreakers. That will teach them :-)