After the May 29 meeting at which the city of Oakland presented its revised Broadway "road diet" plan, 27 residents of Ocean View Drive and McMillan Avenue sent the city a letter asking that the proposed bulbout of the northwest corner of Ocean View Drive and Broadway not be constructed.
A bulbout is an extension of the sidewalk into the street that reduces the distance pedestrians must walk when crossing that street and is designed to slow down vehicles when they turn the corner. Many believe that the proposed bulbout would make Ocean View Drive even more dangerous than it is now.
Inquiries to District 1 Councilmember Dan Kalb's office and to consultant Victoria Eisen, who is coordinating this project for the city, asking if there are any local residents requesting the Ocean View Drive bulbout, have not elicited an answer. So despite strong local opposition and apparently no residents wanting it, the city plans to go ahead with this bulbout anyway, citing improved pedestrian safety. Unlike the other cross streets between Broadway and College Avenue for which bulbouts are proposed as part of the Broadway project, Ocean View Drive is narrow. Vehicles traveling in opposite directions must each slow down and move all the way to their right in order to pass each other. And there is a "blind spot" on Ocean View Drive about 100 feet west of Broadway because of a hill.
Because Ocean View Drive is narrow, even vehicles traveling slower than the 25 mph speed limit tend to move to the middle of the street, not allowing enough room for another vehicle to pass in the other direction. The proposed bulbout would have the undesired effect of encouraging vehicles headed west to move into the middle of the street. It is unlikely that drivers heading west who are not familiar with this area would immediately pull over to the right (in anticipation of the blind spot) after they passed the bulbout. This would create an even worse potential for head-on collisions than exists now.
It's good to slow down vehicles, but not by having them crash into each other. Reducing the speed limit at the top of that block of Ocean View Drive and posting a warning of a blind spot would be more helpful and safer than a bulbout.
On behalf of the city, Eisen has stated: "Staff understands the concern about motorists traveling southbound on Broadway turning westbound onto Ocean View being forced by the new bulbout into the path of eastbound traffic on Ocean View ... staff will design the bulbout to ensure that this movement is not necessary, while accomplishing the intended purpose of making pedestrians attempting to cross that leg of Ocean View more visible to motorists. This may mean adjusting the size and/or location of the bulbout." Plans for the bulbout are expected to be available in September.
Jon Gabel is a 39-year Rock- ridge resident, former Rock- ridge Community Planning Council Board member and the creator of.www.RockridgeSoundwalls.org.