Data from radar boxes and traffic calming recommendations presented at the January 8 community meeting, recommendations made

At the monthly community meeting on January 8, Officers Cain and LeVan of Zone 2 traffic division presented the data collected by radar boxes installed in and near Polish Hill at the request of the PHCA.   The radar boxes were installed in three locations for a period of about 2 weeks each to collect data on the amount of traffic and speeding.

The only radar box that was installed in Polish Hill was placed on Dobson Street, where it recorded 17,520 vehicles in a period of 13 days this fall.  14.4% of the vehicles went more than 31mph (6 mph over the limit).  2.1% went more than 10 miles over the posted limit.  Most of the traffic on Dobson passed through during the rush hours of 7-9 am and 5-6 pm.

The officers noted that  there were many more vehicles going from Brereton Street to Herron Avenue — 10,000.  In the other direction, from Herron Avenue to Brereton Street, there were 7500 cars.  They attributed the discrepancy to cut-through traffic during rush hours.  It should be noted that the 54D also travels on Dobson in just one direction, from Herron to Brereton, which also skews the numbers.

The officers stated that the amount of speeding was within reasonable parameters.  Residents might not agree; 14..4 % is more than 2,500 cars in under two weeks — on a narrow street with a lot of pedestrians, that’s a lot.

The officer’s recommendation was to focus on reducing the number of vehicles that that use Polish Hill as a cut-through during rush hours.  They felt that the best way to do this would be No Left Turn signs, to in effect only during rush hour, at Herron (going uphill) to Melwood; at Dobson to Herron, and at the top of Brereton at Herron.  The officers acknowledged that this would create chaos for a couple of weeks, but assured us that within a month things would settle down, as cut-through drivers realized that the Polish Hill shortcut was no longer viable, at which point we would see a reduction in traffic.

It was noted that drivers would just use Phelan or Paulowna instead, so it might be necessary to request No Left Turn signs at additional spots to ensure that the problem didn’t just shift to other streets.

It was also proposed that there be a no turn sign on Bigelow at Finland, where drivers were turning into  the neighborhood at high speeds.  Residents at the meeting supported this suggestion as well.

The next steps towards getting the signs would be to  discuss the question with the community, get support for our application, then do an engineering study.   One way that residents can show their support for traffic reduction and calming:  file a 311 report.  The City looks at 311 complaints and requests to see what residents want.  It’s easy to file a 311 — you can call, text, or write, or fill out this online form.

(Above:  during an evening rush hour in April 2011, the Herron Bridge was closed off due to a transformer explosion.  Within 15 minutes, all the through streets in Polish Hill were bumper-to-bumper.  While unusual, the incident clearly showed just many cars use the neighborhood as a cut-through to shorten their commute.  Photo by Patrick Singleton)

16 thoughts on “Data from radar boxes and traffic calming recommendations presented at the January 8 community meeting, recommendations made

  1. As much as I dislike the cut-through traffic, I am opposed to more traffic control signs. I am opposed to the aesthetics of a profusion and proliferation of signs of all types, and I very much dislike the idea of not being able to freely circulate through, in and out of my own neighborhood. Traffic signs like the ones proposed would punish drivers in general, where the real problem is speeding drivers. I feel this problem would be more effectively addressed with speed bumps, crosswalks, stop signs and other methods using good design principles, not putting up more ugly signs and making it harder for everyone to get where they are going because of a few inconsiderate people.

  2. Posted from Facebook:

    Flop Custom The whole thing sounds a bit inconvenient to people who live there in my book ! Also those signs will solve nothing …Why? Because people are still going to make the lefts! Its a city neighborhood you cant expect people not to take a certain road because it causes traffic …. come on!!
    January 18 at 2:15pm

  3. Posted from Facebook:

    Michael Bury
    I recommend roving gangs of Polish Hill residents who intimidate anyone not living in the neighborhood.
    January 18 at 2:01pm

  4. Posted from Facebook:

    Paul J. Laure
    Yes, Dee. That’s Paulowna Street in the picture.
    January 17 at 6:27pm

  5. Posted from Facebook:

    Dee McNorgan
    iss this palowna st. as that looks like west pens bldg?
    January 17 at 6:07pm

  6. Posted from Facebook:

    Paul J. Laure

    I suppose I’m also just skeptical that drivers will even adhere to the signs without dedicated enforcement. I routinely see people trying to turn left onto Blessing Street (across from the Bloomfield Bridge) from Bigelow at rush-hour, and there is a clearly-marked sign there that says no left turns during rush hour. The city’s population is growing again, especially in the East End, and the growth is largely from younger people who are bringing vehicles with them. I was in that 2011 traffic jam that the article referenced as I commuted home from one of my jobs, and while unpleasant I also realize we’re “in the middle” (or “in the way”) for a lot of commuters. I suppose I’m in the minority of neighborhood residents who oppose these restrictions, even just during rush-hour, but if most Polish Hillians DO seem supportive of this then by all means I suppose we can give it a go. Trying something like this is always reversible if it turns out not to be effective.

  7. Of course, any controls on traffic will affect residents as well as cut-through drivers. The question is, are residents willing to put up with some inconvenience to get the benefits? Most residents have told us they are, if it will make our neighborhood safer. And just to clarify — the traffic division’s recommendations were that the signs prohibit left turns onto certain streets only during rush hours. At other times, left turns would be legal.
    January 17 at 4:46pm

  8. Paul,
    the traffic division’s data clearly indicated that the problem wasn’t so much the speeds — which were, statistically, within normal ranges. The problem was the volume of traffic in streets that were not designed to accommodate these many vehicles. Also, we have reported a number of times that our requests for lower speed limits were categorically denied. Speed limits are decided at state level, and our streets are firmly in the 25mph range. We are still trying for speed humps.
    January 17 at 4:45pm

  9. Posted from Facebook:

    Paul J. Laure

    Our neighborhood is becoming increasingly expensive due to the luxury of its convenience to other areas—Downtown, Oakland, The Strip, Lawrenceville, Bloomfield, etc. I walk to work in Oakland on many days, and my partner can walk to work on the North Shore. Like it or not being “in the middle of it all” in a growing part of town means that we will continue to see more and more traffic passing through the neighborhood in the future. The question shouldn’t be “how can we isolate ourselves”? The question should be “how can we slow everyone down”?

  10. Posted from Facebook:

    Paul J. Laure

    NOT a fan of this proposal. I live on Brereton Street, and if I could no longer make a left-hand turn onto Dobson Street to get to a left onto Herron Avenue to access Lower Lawrenceville then I’ll have to make a left onto Herron Avenue at the top of Brereton Street. Has anyone tried to make a left from Brereton onto Herron at rush-hour? Not only do you have to hope that traffic heading up Herron leaves a gap for you to pull out, but you often can’t see if other vehicles are traveling quickly DOWN Herron as you are pulling out in front of them.
    January 17 at 4:10pm

  11. Posted from Facebook:

    Amber Tuschak Vogel
    People should be filing 311 reports to prevent stupidity like these proposed signs. They will create problems & the signs are a “solution” for an imagined problem anyway. Surely Polish Hill residents use roads outside of Polish Hill so unless PHCA intends to wall off the neighborhood & create a completely self-sufficient enclave, PHCA has no business preventing anyone from using city streets for their intended purpose. The idea that only residents have a right to drive through PH is so bizarre & asinine that it’s hard to believe. The neighborhood has real issues that deserve focus & it’s ridiculous that city resources on being wasted on such crazy crap as this!
    January 17 at 12:25pm

  12. Posted from Facebook:

    Marianne Kupin

    I agree. I live on Melwood and the no turn sign onto Herron would double my commute time to work. I am not pleased with this and I know a lot of my neighbors would not be either. It may prevent traffic onto Dobson sure but what about the residents that actually live on Melwood? We count as Polish Hill as well and even though Gold Way and Herron are used as cut throughs by many they are also normal routes for residents and to put in that sign at Herron or onto Finland would be very unfair, frustrating, and problematic for the residents that live on Melwood. I don’t support this at all unless there is a way where residents can still make these turns and their daily commutes are not interrupted. Ill be calling to inform that I am not in favor of such changes.
    January 17 at 7:22am

  13. Posted from Facebook:

    Jennifer Martin

    If so many no turn signs are put up… Won’t they also kind of prevent people who live in polish hill from getting to and from their homes? I make these turns all the time. I’m very concerned about the traffic of course and really hate people racing around on our narrow neighborhood streets, just curious how this will work…. Don’t think you can make such signs only pertain to cut-through traffic, can you?
    January 16 at 8:51pm

  14. Marianne,

    As I mentioned in the blog post, the officers recommended a no left turn sign ON Herron, limiting turns on to Melwood. If you’re on Melwood turning left on Herron, there would be no sign.

    In response to your other question, there is no way to make residents exempt from any limitations on traffic. This questions illustrates why this is so difficult. Residents have been telling us for years that they want action — which is why we are collecting this traffic data and asking for recommendations from the experts.

    Residents also want their own convenience and access to be unaffected. We all need to decide, as a community, what’s more important.

  15. I live on Melwood and making it illegal to turn from Bigelow onto Finland (at any time) would be more than disasterous for me. It would mean I’d have to travel Gold Way, which is dangerous at any time at the curve as someone is ALWAYS SPEEDING UP OR DOWN THERE so that would not be an option every weekday for me. What really should be done is to make Melwood a one-way street. Drivers from outside Polish Hill have absolutely no concern for us living there and that will never change unless something drastic is done to make changes and signs will not help. While I appreciate the fact everyone is trying to help, what we need is some real help and soon before someone is killed.

  16. Patricia,

    I certainly hear your concerns — and the one-way suggestion has been made to us. Did you know that Melwood was one-way at one time, and residents insisted that it be opened back up to be a two-way street? Senator Jim Ferlo told us how, at that time, he warned residents that they might not like what would happen, but residents insisted they wanted to be able to drive through.

    Both Senator Ferlo, Zone 2 Traffic Division, and other local authorities advising the PHCA all warned us that any suggestions, like the No Turn signs recommended by Zone 2 Traffic Division, would meet vigorous opposition from many residents once they realized that their personal convenience would be affected. And indeed, that’s what we’re seeing.

    While it seems certain that no one solution will ease the traffic problems, it’s equally certain that it will be difficult to find solutions that please a majority. It’s a complicated problem, and one that we continue to work on.

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