Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Old North Residents Ask the City to Implement At Least Part of the 2012 Traffic Calming Plan (257)

1. Davis Enterprise, February 12, 2012
In a letter to the City Council dated April 30, 2017, the ONDNA Board presses forward on the long-stalled effort to implement at least a scaled-down version of the 2012 plan for Old North traffic calming -- a plan created by Alta Planning and Design under contract with and at the request of the City.

ONDNA President Marilyn Underwood signs the letter that is reproduced below in graphics numbers 3, 4, and 5.*

The letter speaks for itself quite cogently and I only want to introduce it with some modest context, which includes (full disclosure) my own advocacy in this matter.

In 2011 and 2102, the City carried out a process of engaging Old North area (and other 5th Street proximate) residents on the topic of neighborhood traffic calming. This process was led by Davis City planners, conducted by professional planners from Alta Planning and Design, and involved face-to-face resident engagement (a moment of which is seen in graphic 1). 


I was among those “engaged” and I reported on the process in this blog at that time, which can be read in post #108 and consists most importantly of an article in the Davis Enterprise on February 12, 2012:


The process resulted in a wonderful plan, which is depicted in a large-scale graphic available in this blog’s post #245, February 20, 2015, and titled “Graphic of the Alta Old North Traffic Calming Plan:“


That post links to oldnorthdavishistory.org, which stores the high resolution original:


Graphic # 2, below in this post, is a low-resolution version.

2. Alta Planning & Design Traffic Calming Plan for Old North

As described in President Underwood's letter, the City has been slow to move ahead on what seems a wonderful plan. Among other places, this slowness is displayed in “A City of Davis View of the Alta Old North Traffic Calming Plan" (post #246, February 20, 2015):


But, to their credit, ONDNA members and supporters persist and are resurgent, albeit seeming to be willing to settle at the moment for far less than the plan as proposed by Alta.

One of the important reasons for the renewed effort is the ironic downside of the success of the 5th Street redesign. At the same time that the redesign has calmed 5th Street traffic, it has caused people impatient with no longer being able to race on 5th increasingly to “cut through” various Old North streets in order to avoid perceived slow-traffic points. For example, I live on E and I have noticed that people heading south on F Street wanting to turn right onto 5th sometimes turn right on 7th or 6th and then left onto E or D on their way to 5th. By doing this, they avoid the wait at the F & 5th intersection. The same thing applies in the other direction. This results in an uncomfortable number of cars barreling along at high speeds on E and D between 5th and 7th.

The same and other dangerous dynamics are seen with regard to cars on other streets and President Underwood helpfully details some of these in her letter, as well as including a number of dramatic pictures showing a few of the crash-up consequences.

Ironically, this upsurge in Old North traffic problems makes the 2012 plan more relevant and pressing than it was in the year it was created. It appears that the creators of the plan anticipated increased Old North traffic troubles.

3. ONDNA letter to Council asking action on the Alta traffic calming plan

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* The letter is also available online at a public ONDNA Google Drive, which can be reached by means of this URL: