Home > Uncategorized > Our Deadly Streets Seek Redesign

Our Deadly Streets Seek Redesign

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Guest Post By Kathy

The city streets of Eureka have become outdated and hazardous.  H Street and I Street are both problematic.  These fast paced streets are difficult to cross.   Cars parked along the curb hamper visibility while the single direction three lane design encourages drivers to increase their speed.  Two-way streets have a different effect on traffic flow.  They modify traffic speed and turn accident filled areas into neighborhoods again

Many towns and cities are changing one way streets back into two way streets.  The benefit of this a slower safer more attentive flow of traffic.  Often bike paths or lanes are included in the new design to encourage healthier transportation choices.

At the time most of our one way streets were created traffic engineers were taught to consider only moving the most cars, the traffic, from one point to another quickly and safely.  Transportation engineers are now looking more broadly at road design.  Moving cars quickly is being replaced by evaluating the overall effect the road has on the neighborhood it runs through.

In Vancouver Washington business picked up their downtown area when the main road was changed from one way to two ways.  Contrary to their fear that doing so would cause congestion they found that it created increased sales for business in the area and that pedestrian traffic increased as well.  Before changing the road they had tried many things to enliven their downtown district, many of them costly, but it was only by changing the traffic flow that they saw an increase in business in the area.

The Eureka City Council has tasked the Transportation Safety Commission with developing a Transportation Safety Plan that will address how to make our streets safer for everyone; bicycles, pedestrians and cars. They have been working on the Plan for four years and the public has yet to see even a rough draft. Hopefully, the new City Manager will take an interest in seeing this plan completed and become a part of the updated Generall Plan that the Council will begin working on soon.

It’s time for people to stop being injured and killed on the streets of Eureka in such outrageously high numbers.

  1. Carla Baku
    February 10, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    Eureka traffic safety can be massively improved by a) actually stopping at red lights and stop signs, b) using that little stick thingy on your left–it’s called a “turn signal,” c) slow the fuck down, c) stop tailgating, d) learn to merge safely onto the highway, and e) DRIVE WITH YOUR PHONE IN THE TRUNK IF YOU DON’T HAVE THE SIMPLE ABILITY TO NOT USE IT WHILE DRIVING.

    Then we can talk about changing which direction the streets go. (Did I mention slow the fuck down?)

  2. Buzzkill
    February 10, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    Wow, I’ve never seen so many unsupported claims in such a short span of words.

  3. Smoke Monster
    February 11, 2013 at 12:19 am

    Agree with Carla,except she forgot to add the drunk,stoned,crystal meth addicts driving our roads as well

  4. Anonymous
    February 11, 2013 at 4:08 am

    you forgot the pedestrians and bicyclers who cross against red lights, against the flow of traffic, or any looking what so ever. How about getting those to obey the laws, then not so many will be hit and killed. I have come across joggers running red lights so they can maintain their health routine.

  5. JM Maybach
    February 11, 2013 at 5:50 am

    Carla said it all.
    I drive for a living- folks around here are apparently given
    drivers licenses for free, no learning needed. For such a small area,
    the amount of speeding is insane. And dont expect people in Fortuna to stop
    at that stop sign.

  6. Ponder Z
    February 11, 2013 at 6:20 am

    So far all posts make good sense. We dont need to change anything but human behavior. We dont need politicians to redesign our town. The last big change is the addition of those yellow bumps at crosswalks. WTF are they for? why did we need them? Who designed them? Who sold them to California cities? I think they are a big scam. In the name of public safety. We need to enforce traffic laws and let Darwin run it course.

  7. Mary Ella
    February 11, 2013 at 7:28 am

    When does this committee meet and is there a way for citizens to get involved in the planning? Taffic safety in Eureka is a major concern of the Senior Action Coalition.

  8. Anonymoose
    February 11, 2013 at 7:56 am

    To slow traffic down all you need are some more traffic cops giving tickets.

  9. Anonymous
    February 11, 2013 at 8:44 am

    So many of these comments are filled with anger and stunted thinking. Yes, let’s just expect people to morph their behavior overnight, with no support or behavior-changing props, and if they don’t, give them more punishment (tickets) or just f— ’em. Bravo, people of Eureka. OR, maybe we could actually research the issue, look at other successful models, as the article suggests, and take some POSITIVE action to improve our community. In fact, the more streamlined you make a street (one way, no curves, no bumps, no shops/pedestrians/bikes/trees, etc.) the more you FORCE cars to go faster and drivers to be less able to notice cross walks or stop signs, or anything other than the driver’s own little encapsulated world. This is basic ergonomics, or feng shui. Whereas the more you add two way traffic, curves, curbs that jut out at the corners, speed bumps, traffic circles, bike lanes, roadside trees, seating areas, etc. the more you alter an entire community’s behavior in several areas–slower speed, less accidents, more friendliness on the road, more commerce, less vandalism, more community activities, tidier and safer neighborhoods, increased property values—the list is long and other communities are successfully reaping these rewards. It’s not rocket science, it’s not pie-in-the-sky, it’s real and almost pathetically easy to accomplish. If you have heart for it.

  10. Ellin
    February 11, 2013 at 9:00 am

    It’s the behavior not the road. I spent a long trip in Australia (both Eastern and Western) where they have all the latest “traffic calming” devices, mini roundabouts, giant roundabouts, concrete bumping in and out in the parking lane, blinking speed signs, automated ticket sender to speeders from signs, and so on.

    Their drivers are among the worst in the world and all that concrete and planning doesn’t make their roads safer. Don’t believe me?? Check out all the photos of cars the Ozzie police hang from gum trees on the side of a road like 101 from Perth to Margaret River. They do that in an effort to make people see the consequences of their actions. Does it work? No.

    The road-rage filled drivers don’t slow down, they don’t stop at stop signs. They become a mighty metal transformer man when they enter their 2000 pound weapon and they play it hard and fast from point A to point B with third digit upraised at anyone actually driving the speed limit, using turn signals or not also raging along with them.

    You can see the same in other big cities that have spent a fortune on “improvements” to infrastructure and find no change in the driving habits of the citizens, just a lot more ripped off axels and tired from hitting all those concrete obstructions placed in our formerly open and clear streets.

  11. February 11, 2013 at 9:12 am

    Every ‘accident’ is a huge disruption to people’s lives. When there is injury or death lives are tragically altered, hearts are broken. This is no light subject. Changing the streets to make them safer is one approach. Encouraging citizens to drive safer is another. Even conversation about safe driving habits raises awareness and helps people remember the importance of careful driving. There is no single type of driver who drives distracted or without thought. The speeding and carelessness in this town is growing. Changing streets so they do not encourage higher rates of speed is one approach.

  12. From C Street
    February 11, 2013 at 9:27 am

    I agree, the wide open road look of H and I create a higher rate of driving speed. There is another option besides returning them to two-way streets. Keep them going one way but take one lane and use it as a bike path.

  13. Anonymous
    February 11, 2013 at 9:40 am

    I am a bit skeptical about the idea that changing one-way streets like H and I to two-way will necessarily make them safer. My skepticism arises from the fact that two-way traffic adds the potential for head-on collisions. It also means that there are two more directions people may be turning at intersections. If the studies from other cities show that streets converted from one-way to two-way have fewer accidents, well, O.K. but I’d want to be sure that this isn’t just because more of the traffic moves to other streets, increasing the accidents there.

    I’m not necessarily against that change, but I’d need to hear a good deal more about the details to feel comfortable that changing the one-ways on H and I to two-ways was really the best option. Seems like a simpler option might be just to put a few more traffic lights on H and I, timed to work for drivers who are driving the speed limit (and maybe a 5 mph slower speed limit). And enforcement of the speed limit on those heavily-traveled routes.

  14. Anonymous
    February 11, 2013 at 9:47 am

    Thank you “Goldie” and “From C Street,” for keeping the conversation open and offering ideas! And Ellin–comparing Australia in all its vastness with Eureka is like apples and oranges. I could make the same and opposite comparisons with several European countries where I have lived, which have numerous traffic slowing devices, narrow city streets, lots of bike traffic and a wonderful, bustling community life thriving on each of them, with a much lower rate of pedestrian fatalities. Let’s focus on our own city, with it’s particular characteristics and budget, and see what we can come up with, without shooting ourselves in the foot with negative thinking.

  15. Kathy Srabian
    February 11, 2013 at 9:47 am

    #13, I agree with you. The solution requires study and many options need to be considered.

  16. Kathy Srabian
    February 11, 2013 at 10:57 am

    Mary Ella :
    When does this committee meet and is there a way for citizens to get involved in the planning? Taffic safety in Eureka is a major concern of the Senior Action Coalition.

    In looking up the answer to Mary Ella’s question I came across this information. They meet tomorrow at 2 pm.
    TRANSPORTATION SAFETY COMMISSION
    AGENDA, REGULAR MEETING OF TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2013,EUREKA CITY HALL – COUNCIL CHAMBERS
    7. STAFF REPORTS
    a. EPD
    b. Other Staff Reports
    (1) Letter from Mr. Herzon and H & I Street Residents
    8. OLD BUSINESS
    a. Transportation Safety Action Plan
    b. H & I Street Update

    Complete agenda is here……http://www.ci.eureka.ca.gov/depts/city_clerk/agendas_n_minutes/comm/transport/default.asp

    Contact number for comments or information is listed as Public Works Department at 268-5253

  17. #13
    February 11, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Thanks, Kathy. I’m glad to hear you’re open to various options. I look forward to learning more. I certainly agree that H and I Streets could use some improvement.

    You raised a couple of specific concerns:

    ” Cars parked along the curb hamper visibility…”

    Whether they are kept as one-way, or changed to two-way traffic, it seems like one thing that would help would be banning parking up close to the intersections — maybe move the curb out and have sidewalk/grass/plantings instead of those last 4 or 4 parking spaces near the intersections.

    “…while the single direction three lane design encourages drivers to increase their speed.”

    If going to a two-way traffic design, my thought is to maybe just have one lane in each direction (no passing) and take the space currently used for the third lane to use instead as space for bike lane on both sides, and maybe a median strip with grass and/or plantings between the lanes. So basically it would be two separate (hopefully a little slower) one-way corridors, side by side, thereby not running the risk of increasing head-on collisions, while also keeping cyclists safer in their own lanes. At the same time the single driving lane design, better crosswalk designs, maybe some more lights and/or stop signs, and some “traffic calming” features could work together to help keep the speeds down?

    Anyway, those are just some thoughts. I’m totally open to other ideas, as well as to the possibility that some of my suggestions are just not feasible for cost and/or design reasons. One good thing is that H and I are plenty wide and only carry fairly moderate traffic loads (at least compared to similar-sized streets in bigger cities), which means we should have a wider range of options than we’d have if they were heavily traveled, but pretty narrow (for example if they were only two lanes at the moment).

  18. Gogord Gram
    February 11, 2013 at 11:14 am

    Anonymous :
    I am a bit skeptical about the idea that changing one-way streets like H and I to two-way will necessarily make them safer. My skepticism arises from the fact that two-way traffic adds the potential for head-on collisions. It also means that there are two more directions people may be turning at intersections. If the studies from other cities show that streets converted from one-way to two-way have fewer accidents, well, O.K. but I’d want to be sure that this isn’t just because more of the traffic moves to other streets, increasing the accidents there.
    I’m not necessarily against that change, but I’d need to hear a good deal more about the details to feel comfortable that changing the one-ways on H and I to two-ways was really the best option. Seems like a simpler option might be just to put a few more traffic lights on H and I, timed to work for drivers who are driving the speed limit (and maybe a 5 mph slower speed limit). And enforcement of the speed limit on those heavily-traveled routes.

    Yes you are right! Fact is we need to keep the driving scheme SIMPLE so that impaired drunks and meth heads have the easiest driving task possible on way from motel to dealer to tiptop. If you change those broad one way conduits to 2-way with traffic calming etc it will freak everyone out and they will be overwhelmed with the chore of complex traffic. Would not be surprised to find tweakers driving on sidewalk at that point. For that matter, consider INCREASING the speed limit; that way each trip will be shorter duration and expose fewer bystanders to potential harm.

  19. owl
    February 11, 2013 at 11:17 am

    A local story Hoo Hoo!!! Thanks Kathy!!! I have learned to drive “defensively” in Eureka, Look the wrong way up 1 way streets, you are likely to get creamed from either direction, At 4 way stops, there are no rules, either people dont stop or everyone does and trys kind gestures of “no you go”, “no you go” the everyone goes at once. Green light often means stop, red light often means go and yellow light always means stomp it to the floor. Last month a tweeker was walking down the side walk ranting on a cellphone waving her hands furiously in the air. She stopped at the cross walk and waved a taxi cab through (still ranting on the phone) then stepped out in front of the cab. The cab slammed on his brakes then backed out of the cross walk into the car behind him who was following him through. It looked like an attempted insurance scam on the tweekers part but it effected the cab driver, likely hurt his employment, effected the fare, effected the driver of the car that was hit and the tweeker staggered on, laughing while still on the phone. We have to have THE WORST DRIVERS IN CALIFORNIA!!!!

  20. #13
    February 11, 2013 at 11:42 am

    And of course a major challenge for the city is the fact that Highway 101 runs right through town. I remember hearing that a large number of the pedestrian casualties, as well as many of the vehicle-on-vehicle collisions, happen along Broadway and 4th and 5th streets. I’m not sure exactly how the City and CalTrans collaborate to make decisions on street design within the city limits, but clearly that’s an area that needs attention.

    Unlike H and I, it’s bound to be a bit more challenging, not only because of the overlapping jurisdictional issues, but because the amount of traffic is quite substantial at times, and as a highway, one of the key functions is indeed to allow the “traffic” to pass through without getting too backed up. So, for example, while traffic circles might work to help calm traffic (and in some cases actually flowing faster than lights or stop signs do) on some city streets, it’s hard to picture that working out on Broadway.

    On 4th and 5th, it’s a lot wider when you consider there are three lanes of traffic plus parking on both sides along most of that segment of 101. So I can see how some of that could be changed to accommodate bike lanes, better sight lines at crosswalk areas, etc. But I’m having a hard time imagining changing to two-way traffic on 4th and 5th without that really causing a lot of highway-traffic-related congestion, and simply pushing some of that traffic off onto other streets, in particular 6th and 7th. I suppose 6th and 7th could also be changed to two-way traffic also, and slowed down — but unless there is some kind of highway bypass in the works that would take through-traffic around Eureka (and that seems highly unlikely to me) that highway traffic has to move through town some way or another.

    Anyway, I do think Eureka should look to adopt whatever traffic-calming, speed-slowing, pedestrian-and-bike securing measures may be feasible. Even just those radar “your speed is” signs can be surprisingly effective for problem areas. Even with a divided highway, and a long, straight roadway, traffic on Highway 101 between Arcata and Eureka is easily moving 10-15 mph slower than it was before the “safety corridor” signage was put in. And I believe there have been few, or maybe even NO fatalities on that section since the speeds were lowered. Heck, if we can slow down the traffic on that section from what it was previously — as I recall, mostly 65-75) all the way down to to 50-55 mph (which is what most people are doing when I drive through there these days), just with some radar speed signs and increased enforcement, then we should be able to slow the traffic on H and I street down to something more reasonable than it is now. And, c’mon from one end of H street to the other, how much time does anyone really save driving 10 or 15 mph faster? A couple of minutes, at most.

  21. February 11, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    Just making the corner of Lucas and Harrison a 3 way stop would improve things immensely at that end of town.

  22. Anonymous
    February 11, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    You gotta love this shit.; More smart growth for stupid people. Now that some sanity has come to the counties GPU, maybe this is a new screw the public job we can sick Mark Lovelace on.

  23. Anonymous
    February 11, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Forgive me, #19, but the word you were looking for was “affects” not “effects.” I appreciate what you wrote about the horrible driving of local folks, and using the right word will improve the quality to your writing. So you see, I mean this as a helpful observation, not as a mean criticism.

  24. Take the steering wheel from my cold dead hands
    February 11, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    The best idea I’ve read here would be to improve sight lines at intersections by eliminating parking/shrubbery. Combining that with widening the sidewalk would allow pedestrians and drivers to see each other earlier and reduce the length of crosswalks.

    But reducing parking cuts into the ‘rights’ to turn property into a rental with multiple driving tenants or park the RV/boat in the driveway and have ‘personal’ parking spots on the street. But even in Arcata where I am, the reality is that convenient car access usually trumps safety. Merely suggesting to a business owner reducing on-street parking is considered treasonous.

  25. Ponder Z
    February 11, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    You gotta love this shit.; More smart growth for stupid people. Now that some sanity has come to the counties GPU, maybe this is a new screw the public job we can sick Mark Lovelace on.

    HOw true, #22. It would be a great job for Marky. Of course it would all need to be rejected. No need for any government improvements here.

  26. jr
    February 11, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    Downtown Sacramento has been turning streets that previously were three lane one way streets into two lane with bike lane, but still keeping them one way. Also, they have built mini round abouts as a way to calm traffic. Midtown Sacramento seems a lot more pedestrian friendly now.

  27. Ponder Z
    February 12, 2013 at 6:16 am

    traffic calming???? why do we need to calm traffic. What a stupid mentality it takes to think this way. Round abouts are a pain in the ass, and disrupt the original city layout. Drivers need to learn the driving laws and follow them. It is pretty simple and wont cost the tax payers anything, and wont destroy the grid of streets.

  28. Anonymous
    February 12, 2013 at 6:44 am

    It’s not just following the laws Ponderz. It’s difficult to see on-coming traffic around large vehicles parked on the streets, especially from a smaller vehicle. Pulling out of Cutten Cal Courts/Post Office parking lot when industrial vehicles are parked in front, as they often are for some reason, is like a Hail Mary, watching way up the street behind the trucks and hoping no one pulled out in the blind area.

  29. Anonymous
    February 12, 2013 at 7:18 am

    “disrupt the original city layout. ”

    A city that was laid out for horses and built to avoid the marshes around the bay. God forbid that anything could be improved. Four way stops were put into several of the suicide corners in central Eureka (about 12 years ago), and it not only “calmed” the neighborhoods, it saved lives.

  30. Dan
    February 12, 2013 at 8:51 am

    From the look of things it was laid-out
    twice. Once to magnetic-north and once
    to true north. A problem with philosophy,
    I guess.

  31. Anonymous
    February 12, 2013 at 9:18 am

    The notion that part of the city was laid out according to magnetic north and part relative to geographic north (“true” north) is probably a bit of mythology. To begin with the older portion of H and I (north of Wabash) are oriented west of north, and the southern portion is close to geographic north. If streets were laid out according to magnetic north (for our location), the error would be an eastward deflection. This would be about 19-20 degrees east of north back in the early 1900s. Secondly, some of the older streets – A-C up to about 8th St – are oriented toward geographic north. My guess is there were other reasons for why all streets are not parallel or perpendicular. I guess it’s possible that someone could have “over corrected” for magnetic declination, but that would be something recorded in the history of the region.

  32. Kathy
    February 12, 2013 at 9:35 am


    This is a rather long webinar about choices in traffic calming. It actually starts at about 6 minutes in. You have to lose the first dull guy. What I found interesting about this is the use of temporary road designs and it actually includes the costs of the changes they talk about.

  33. Gogord Gram
    February 17, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    Anonymous :
    The notion that part of the city was laid out according to magnetic north and part relative to geographic north (“true” north) is probably a bit of mythology. To begin with the older portion of H and I (north of Wabash) are oriented west of north, and the southern portion is close to geographic north. If streets were laid out according to magnetic north (for our location), the error would be an eastward deflection. This would be about 19-20 degrees east of north back in the early 1900s. Secondly, some of the older streets – A-C up to about 8th St – are oriented toward geographic north. My guess is there were other reasons for why all streets are not parallel or perpendicular. I guess it’s possible that someone could have “over corrected” for magnetic declination, but that would be something recorded in the history of the region.

    Yes, you are right, are far as this goes. This other thing that influenced the layout is most of the streets were meant to be conduits from outlying areas to the downtown (now old town) redlight district. Eureka was established to be a regional vice hot spot for the hard working loggers and miners and the fact that the roadways are sort of “fanned” out reflects their increased utility for delivering bulging pockets to the girls, opium dens, bars, and bordellos of out fourfathers. Check out that Humboldt room at HSU library, fascinating.

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