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 email@example.com.
COMMUTER: I have a few questions specific to Port Chicago Highway between Olivera and North 6th.
Why is it illegal to make a right turn on red at the 6th/Port Chicago and Olivera/Port Chicago intersections? The only reason I can think of at Olivera/Port Chicago is there’s a bus stop right there. Not so at North 6th. Is there a general policy for prohibiting a right on red?
TRAFFIC JAMMER: For these questions, our ever-reliable Officer Leo, the generous law enforcement officer who lives and works in Claycord, literally went out of his way to investigate. Here’s his response:
“OK, I did a drive-through today at both intersections. To be specific, I went westbound toward the airport both times. My suspicions were correct.
So, let’s get the principle straight: Right turns against a red signal (circular light) are generally OK after a legal stop. The exceptions are facing a red signal arrow (you can never go in the direction of a red signal arrow) or a sign prohibiting such a turn.
There are usually two reasons why right turns are prohibited or limited on red signals.
1) Traffic flow. Sometimes, U-turns are allowed on the cross street and this would interfere with the right turns. Sometimes, the traffic study shows that right turns interrupt the flow of traffic to the degree that the prohibition makes more sense for the prevailing traffic conditions.
2) Limited visibility. Drivers wanting to turn right cannot see as far to their left as they think they can. There is limited visibility for on-coming traffic, so right turns against a red signal are prohibited.
#2 appears to answer the writer’s questions. In both cases, there is a slight (almost imperceptible) bend on Port Chicago Highway. Also, the BART tracks run parallel to Port Chicago. These factors allow for limited visibility.
If a vehicle approaching the intersection is traveling at 30 mph, that’s 45 feet per second. A driver can only see a few hundred feet down Port Chicago at these intersections. By the time the driver sees the seemingly clear roadway and pulls out, an oncoming driver would be right on top of the turning vehicle.
It’s worth noting that many communities in Claycord and along the Interstate 680 corridor from the Benicia Bridge to I-580 have restricted right turns … especially around the freeway (think of I-680 and Willow Pass Road and I-680 and Monument as examples).”
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Here’s Ken’s final question:
COMMUTER:Turning off Olivera onto Claudia Drive into the Holbrook Heights neighborhood, there are always cars parked right up to the stop sign. That makes it hard to see when you want to turn onto Olivera. Also, it eats up a lane on Claudia, making it difficult to turn from Olivera onto Claudia, particularly if there are other cars waiting at the stop sign. How would we get the City to mark the curbs in that area as no parking/no stopping zones?
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Since this question was a regulatory one, the Jammer consulted with Concord Traffic Czar Ray Kuzbari.
“He’s (Ken) talking about parking on Claudia,” Kuzbari said. “When cars are parked on Claudia all the way to the crosswalk, the receiving lane is blocked, so it’s hard to turn onto it,” Kuzbari said.
“We will send someone out to look at it. If there are safety issues, we could do outreach to the person who lives there” about restricting parking, Kuzbari said.
However, “This is residential parking. We don’t want to take street parking from the people who live on Claudia,” the traffic manager said. “Generally, we don’t take parking away from somebody unless there is an imminent safety issue.
“It’s much easier to create restrictions in a commercial zone,” Kuzbari said.
COMMUTER: I hate to belabor a point, but on the HOV/HOT sections, do you have to have a transponder? I don’t use FasTrak since I don’t use the bridges often enough to make it worthwhile. If I drive I-680 at Sunol with three people in the car but no FasTrak, will I get cited? I shouldn’t, but I know with the Golden Gate Bridge you have to use FasTrak.
TRAFFIC JAMMER: First of all, actually, Teacher Wannabe, you don’t have to use FasTrak on the Golden Gate Bridge.
If you are OK paying $7 to cross the Golden Gate Bridge, instead of the $6 discount FasTrak fee, there are options other than having a FasTrak transponder. You can choose license plate options. Details: http://goldengate.org/tolls/tollpaymentchoices.php.
Now, here’s California Highway Patrol Officer Daniel Hill with the answer to your other question. As most Claycordians probably already realize, we’re talking about the toll lane on I-680 near the Sunol Grade:
“HOT lanes mean High Occupancy/ Toll lanes. So, when the lanes are “on”, you either need to pay the toll or have enough people to qualify as High Occupancy (two in this case).
Toll is paid through FasTrak, so if you are a toll payer, you MUST have a FasTrak.
If you’re High Occupancy, no toll is required, so no FasTrak is required either. CHP will not cite drivers in these lanes for not having a transponder IF they are “High Occupancy.” In fact, we won’t even stop you, because you’re doing the right thing (unless there’s something else going on, like speeding or cell phone).
Just to be very clear, you don’t need a FasTrak unless you intend to utilize a toll lane as a sole occupant, or you plan to cross a bridge in the Bay Area as an HOV. Even then, the violation would be not paying the toll, rather than not having the FasTrak.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org