Traffic Jammin’ with Janis Mara – Speed Enforced by Drones, Blocked Signs + More!

July 22, 2013 14:00 pm · 20 comments

Traffic Jammin’ with Janis Mara – Every Monday at 2pm on

TRAFFIC JAMMER: Greetings, all! This 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

COMMUTER:  I live in North Concord just above the North Concord BART station and witness many moving violations daily. As you drive up Panoramic from the BART station there are a total of three “No U-turn” signs, yet people still do it at the intersection of Panoramic and St. George! Most, I suspect, are doing it to bypass the traffic on Highway 4 going up the hill to Bay Point.

Is there anything I can do to increase the patrol/enforcement of these signs, as it poses a safety issue to not only other drives but the numerous pedestrians who walk in the area from BART?


TRAFFIC JAMMER: Yes, indeed, this does sound like an accident waiting to happen, Victor, and the Jammer is glad you took the time to write in about it.

Ray Kuzbari, Concord’s ever-responsive Traffic Czar, knew right away what you were talking about when the Jammer relayed your concerns to him.

“Cars will get off eastbound Highway 4 and travel down Port Chicago Highway to Olivera Road and get back on the freeway from Willow Pass,” Kuzbari said. “They think they are saving time, but they are actually losing time.” As you know, Victor, it happens during rush hour as drivers seek to make an end run around congestion.

“I will contact the police department and let them know the illegal U-turns are still being made between 4:30 and 7 p.m.,” Kuzbari said. “If they send a cruiser out and watch for an hour or so and ticket illegal U-turns, maybe people will learn their lesson and stop doing it.”

Hooray for Ray! Be sure to keep an eye on the situation and let the Jammer know how it goes, Victor.


There is a traffic sign of some kind that is completely obscured by a rogue palm tree on Ayers road, adjacent to the Pixie Playschool (almost at the corner of Concord   Boulevard).  It has obviously been neglected for years, since that palm didn’t grow overnight.  I keep meaning to take a photo and send it to someone, but since you seem to get quick action from smart folks, it probably isn’t necessary.  I can’t believe it hasn’t been reported by anyone else. Maybe you can hold a contest to see who can guess what kind of sign it is.


Thanks for writing this great column!


TRAFFIC JAMMER: Aw, DogMom, thanks so much for your kind words! Also, thanks for sending along a photo so we can see how totally obscured this sign is. Yikes! The Jammer shared the information with Ray Kuzbari and he is on the case. Keep us informed, DogMom. It’s likely the problem will be solved quickly.

TRAFFIC JAMMER: Beloved Claycordians, you may have heard that some prankster is installing fake signs on Bay Area highways reading, “Speed Enforced by Drones.”

Here’s a link to an article about it.


Have any of you seen the signs anywhere? Let me know!

COMMUTERI have been reviewing the nitty-gritty details in the DMV Driver’s Manual so as to be ready for my written driver’s test appointment.

Last night’s puzzler was that bicycle riders are required by law to wear a helmet unless they are more than 18 years old — something which leaves me more than a little aghast, as I have been thinking that one’s head can be just as smushed when he is over 18.

Jammin’ Janis, what say you regarding the DMV’s reasoning on this law?


TRAFFIC JAMMER: Thank you, Antler, this is a great question. The Jammer’s unequivocal opinion is that adults should wear helmets. A friend of the Jammer was charged by dogs, knocked off her bike and sustained brain damage. She has managed to make a full recovery, but it took years. If she hadn’t been wearing a helmet, she probably would have died. (She fell on asphalt.)

Here is a detailed response from Robert Prinz, education coordinator, East Bay Bicycle Coalition. (Abbreviated version: The coalition encourages people to wear helmets but feels avoiding crashes is the greater concern.)

The topic of bike helmets for adults is a very touchy one, with lots of opinions on both sides, so while we encourage their use among adults we prefer to take a hands-off approach to the issue and let people decide for themselves whether to wear one or not. I believe the concept behind the youth bicycle helmet requirement is that people under the age of 18 are typically less responsible for their own behavior than adults and therefore more likely to be involved in a collision, and the statistics on crash incidence by age bear this out.

Laws mandating the use of bike helmets by adults have been proven in places like Australia to discourage many people from riding altogether, and having fewer cyclists on the streets puts the rest of the ridership more at risk simply by being less expected. Here in the Bay Area the number of cyclists on our streets has been going up much faster than the number of bike crashes, which means that the “safety in numbers” effect is significant.

While a bike helmet may reduce the severity of a head injury, it does nothing to prevent a crash or mitigate other life-threatening injuries. Since the opportunities to affect a person’s biking behavior are few, we concentrate on ways to prevent crashes, as opposed to mitigating them. We are also against the common assertion that a cyclist in a collision without a helmet was being negligent and partially at fault for their own injuries.

For helmet fit we use the “eyes, ears, mouth” method to teach youth and adults how to adjust helmets.

We encourage cyclists to never purchase a used one or re-use a helmet that has been involved in a crash. Also, only wear a helmet with a CPSC certification.

TRAFFIC JAMMER: That’s it for this week – see you next Monday. Be sure to cruise by 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

1 Dragon July 22, 2013 at 2:39 PM

From the answer to the first letter:
> “If they send a cruiser out and watch for an hour or so and ticket illegal U-turns, maybe people will learn their lesson and stop doing it.”

An hour?? An hour won’t do anything but annoy the people who get caught. You need someone out there for several hours for several days. People don’t change ingrained behaviors (habits) until and unless those behaviors become dislodged and replaced by new habits. But it takes time for new habits to become, well, habitual.

2 Captain Bebops July 22, 2013 at 4:05 PM

Most of the bicyclists I’ve seen riding in one-way bike lanes the wrong way were adults, most not wearing a helmet and apparently infrequent riders going out for a little ride, oblivious to the dangers of cars emerging from blind corners and not being able to see them nor expect them in the WRONG bike lane. They should be ticketed for riding the wrong way in these lanes just as a car would be for driving down a street or highway the wrong way. The lanes are set up so you can see a cyclist going the right way in them.

3 Atticus Thraxx July 22, 2013 at 4:32 PM

Slow your roll Bebop. I ride a good bit and I’ll use. bike lane when it’s safe. But if the other side of the street has fewer cars parked in the bike lane for a good ways I’ll cross. Also ride on the sidewalk on busy roads. Not sharing lanes with you crazy drivers. I was swiped on Concord Blvd by a landscapers trailer 3 summers ago. I stayed vertical but it left a mark. And no I don’t wear a helmet. My choice and I know I may one day regret it.

4 Here's a question July 22, 2013 at 5:18 PM

Why do some bicycle riders ride two and three people across in a bike lane? They always end up spilling into the traffic lane and it seems they are just asking to get hit by a car!! Not to say they are being just plain rude and obnoxious for everyone involved. Is this legal? If it is , the law should be changed so that everyone riding a bike should ride single file. COMMON SENSE SHOULD PREVAIL HERE!

5 Overall July 22, 2013 at 5:26 PM

I love this city, but the condition of the
streets is deplorable. I’ve said it before, the
line marking and dots are ” dangerous”.
I think we could use less landscaping
and better paving contractors.

6 Antler July 22, 2013 at 5:30 PM

Janis ~ ~ ~ Thank you for checking on the “bicycle helmets for adults” issue, and I am relieved that at least you and I are in agreement. I wonder whether insurance companies and physicians have the same blase attitude as Mr. Prinz attempts to explain!

7 Janis Mara July 22, 2013 at 5:54 PM

@Atticus Thraxx #3 – “Slow your roll Bebop!” I love it!

@overall #5, if you tell me about some of the more egregious line markings and dots, I’ll talk to the powers that be about it. Not sure if you mean Concord or not?

8 Overall July 22, 2013 at 7:14 PM

@ J. M. ; Clayton road is the worst, faded
painted lines, scuffed bots dots, so much tar
seal . The city must know about this. When
you see sand coming out of breeches
in new pavement within a few months,
the job was done poorly, no excuses.
Concord ave. is a wash board in long
stretches. Arnold drive from P.C.H., done not
to long ago, I can hear the asphalt ” tiles”
as I drive over them. Manhole covers
and other access covers not flush. There
is one by Brendan theater that rattles when
driven over and must be an inch and a half
below grade. I live off PCH. and Sixth st.,
All the lines and dots should be like this
through out the city, but there is base material
coming up there already.also. Whoever
the contractor is , in my opinion, isn’t doing
an adequate job. And particularly the
Routes the aggregate trucks use are not
keeping up with the damage they cause
over time. I love this City, but enough
with bushes and flowers, use these guys
doing gardening to help make streets
that don’t beat the hell out of our cars and
other vehicles.

9 @thraxx July 22, 2013 at 7:59 PM

I chose not to wear a helmet two, I
chose not too wear a helmet to. And I ok
am? My brian is ok when I fell off on my
Byke and hit my head. And everthing
is good, I can feed myself again.
Seriously, you have whined about people
that drain resources with their “entitled”
attitudes etc. you are no different than the
red light runners, shoplifters, drug dealers.
You can call it “your choice” but it comes
down to the fact that you will do it whether
it’s legal, right, or safe if it suits you and
is expeditious to your wants .
In short you are a hypocritical PUTZ!

10 Janis Mara July 22, 2013 at 9:01 PM

@overall #8, what are a couple cross streets on Clayton Road where it’s really bad? I’ll ask the Traffic Manager about this.

11 Overall July 22, 2013 at 11:43 PM

I know I can’t be the only one that notices
this. It is the worst on as it splits into three
lanes all the way to YV.rd.. At several times
of day it’s like there are no lane markings
at all.

12 Anon July 23, 2013 at 8:42 AM

This won’t fly in deer trail CO

13 Anon July 23, 2013 at 8:47 AM

The drones

14 Antler July 23, 2013 at 10:32 AM

Janis ~ ~ ~ Re surface markings on Clayton Road: one horribly unsafe section is westbound between Mendocino and Farm Bureau. There are shiny patching-material squiggles running linearly so that they shine more brightly than the dots (and/or faded-paint lines) delineating lanes. The effect is especially confusing nearing sunset (sun in eyes and reflecting off the squiggles..also if it is raining (even during daylight hours).

Please forgive a sweeping generality, but all the dots/blips on ALL streets get dirty, and they have NEVER provided as much guidance as the painted dashes used to do! One exception is the blips which reflect RED if one is starting to drive in the wrong direction on an onramp or highway….that’s assuming drunks and otherwise disoriented drivers can still see the color red! :-)

15 TOB July 23, 2013 at 12:32 PM

Worst part of Clayton Rd with TOO many tar seals makes your vehicle feel like on ice (have to hold wheel) between Alberta and Ayers Rd. Lucky’s to Kmart, nasty section well in need of fresh asphalt no more tar seals. Worse when wet. Be nice too if Concord used sensors in off hours vs. locked in timing. Sit very long and wait with no traffic at both of those same intersections, Alberta and Ayers. Ridiculous on weekends to wait some 1.5-2 min and NO traffic. Truly dislike that small area on Clayton Rd for both reasons.

16 Janis Mara July 23, 2013 at 9:50 PM

Glad everyone’s chiming in re: Clayton Road. Let’s see what the Traffic Czar has to say!

17 Captain Freeway July 24, 2013 at 7:48 AM

Ahhh, the Drone Signs. Sure wish drones did exist. If it were true, the primary target of the drone weaponry would surely be the overly aggressive lane-changing, shoulder driving, exit-cheating, carpool and U-Turn violating, cigarette tossing gap-shooters, . Be careful out there folks, watch out for the gap-shooters and please don’t be one! CF

18 Captain Bebops July 24, 2013 at 1:10 PM

Atticus Thraxx, understand this is on some one way streets around here and even when “slowing your roll” it is still possible to hit someone riding the wrong way because of a blind corner. So if you pull out to be sure you could still hit some idiot cyclist aiming for a Darwin award. And if you are fortunate to have witnesses it will be judged the cyclist’s fault. You are after all subject to the same vehicle laws as a motor vehicle and that includes going the wrong way on a one way street or lane.

Mind you this is in Martinez and most of the people I see doing this are probably the local derelicts who have somehow gotten their hands on a bike.

19 Janis Mara July 24, 2013 at 3:27 PM

(Waving to Captain Freeway!)

20 Jim A July 26, 2013 at 1:05 PM

Here’s one for you. The new traffic light on Concord Avenue near the Honda dealer seems to have a mind of it’s own and is not well sychronized with the other signals. The morning and afternoon backups are much worse than ever along this stretch.

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