Traffic Jammin’ with Janis Mara – Every Monday at 2pm on Claycord.com.
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Greetings, all! This Claycord.com column is for everyone who negotiates the highways and public transit of the Bay Area. It runs every Monday at 2pm and answers your commuting and transportation questions.
Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s a West County question that we all can learn something from:
COMMUTER: It takes forever to get across San Pablo Avenue in El Cerrito to get to the El Cerrito Del Norte BART station.
Either you have to walk and walk and walk to get to the intersection and press the button at the crosswalk, and even if you risk it and run across the street, there’s several lanes to cross and just a skinny little median strip to wait at if traffic is coming from the other direction.
–Don’t Want to Miss That Train
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Beloved fellow Contra Costan, the Jammer agrees that the configuration of this intersection is far from ideal. The El Cerrito Police Department – a department that has been honored for its outstanding traffic safety efforts – endeavors to do everything possible to keep that area safe. It’s not easy, though, considering how badly it’s designed.
Despite the inconvenience, the Jammer implores you to please take the time to walk to the intersection and cross at the light.
The Number One cause of pedestrian injury is crossing the street in the middle of the block. Motorists aren’t looking out for you, they are moving much faster than you ever can and the odds are against you.
COMMUTER: I was driving down Treat Boulevard early Saturday morning and encountered three cyclists riding abreast, not in single file. Is this legal?
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Ah, Brake Jammer, this is another issue along the lines of lane-splitting. California’s Vehicle Code does not prohibit cyclists from riding abreast. However, while it is not against the law, it’s a bad idea, at least in the Jammer’s opinion. When riding a bicycle or motorcycle, it’s imperative to be constantly on the defensive. Taking up most of a lane – again, when drivers don’t expect you to be there – can be injurious to cyclists’ health.
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Last week, a number of Claycordians contributed insights into why there is a sign at the left-hand fork of the Orinda exit ramp on westbound Highway 24 reading, “No Through Traffic.” Lyle Burks, a longtime traffic professional, pointed out that drivers can pass a lot of cars backed up on westbound 24 by using the offramp/onramp combo. He believes the CHP requested the sign to stop through traffic from using the ramp as an extra lane.
This gave rise to the following confession regarding the Wilder exit off 24:
COMMUTER: I won’t lie, I use the Wilder Road exit to merge back onto the freeway. Yes, I’m sure it isn’t the best practice, and I do feel bad about it. But I save 5-10 minutes each time doing it. Not that time means a whole heck of a lot, but stop and go on a hill does use more gas, so that’s where I try to save. A small amount? Certainly. But I do drive a lot every week, so any savings is welcomed.
–Wilder Road Exiter
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Well, there are those who say it’s actually fine for you to do what you do, and for folks to use the Orinda offramp/onramp combo as well. They say it actually reduces congestion, because a lane that would otherwise be empty is being used.
The trouble with this argument is that from observation, it seems to the Jammer that the motorists merging back into traffic slow things down. This is similar to those folks who refuse to move over when the yellow signs announcing, “Lane closed in one mile,” show up on Highway 24. If they moved over when traffic was flowing smoothly, it would be easy to fit in. When they wait until traffic is packed tightly, it takes longer.
TRAFFIC JAMMER: That’s it for this week – see you next Monday. Be sure to cruise by Claycord.com at 2pm for more traffic intelligence. Remember, whether you drive, walk, bike or hop Amtrak, BART or AC Transit, Traffic Jammer Janis Mara is here to answer your questions.
Send your questions to email@example.com.