Are There Still Bicycle Concerns on Fifth Street?


Overall the reaction to the Fifth Street Redesign has been positive, with the caveat that we have not yet seen it in action at peak hours with UC Davis in session. However, there have been some noted concerns and the city will need to address them, either through tweaks or through some sort of educational program.

Last week, in a letter to the editor, a bicyclist raised a number of questions about the new configuration.

The letter raised five different scenarios or concerns.

Scenario 1: “I am westbound on Fifth Street and I want to make a left turn to southbound B Street at 5:30 a.m. on a Monday. The light will not turn green. I wait three minutes and not one light has changed while I’ve been there. How long do I wait until I run the red light?”

Scenario 2: “I am eastbound on Fifth Street and I want to make a left turn onto K Street at 4:30 p.m. on a Thursday. There are 20 vehicles eastbound that, even though I am signaling for a left turn, will not allow my merge into their lane so I can get to the safety of the center turn lane. How do I complete this left turn safely without blocking other bicyclists in the bike lane?”

Scenario 3: “I am westbound on Fifth Street and I want to make a left turn onto C Street at 8:10 a.m. on a Wednesday. The same situation as my K Street turn is present. How do I complete this left turn safely without having to block other bicyclists in the bike lane?”

Scenario 4: “I am northbound on A Street at 4:10 p.m. on a Tuesday. I want to cross Fifth Street. The only traffic is another bicyclist heading southbound and vehicles east- and westbound on Fifth.”

Scenario 5: “There are no bicycle signal buttons for north- and southbound. No lights are changing, not even the crosswalk lights are changing. How does a bicyclist cross this intersection without having to ride on the sidewalk, dismount to reach the pedestrian signal button or wait for a car to trip the signal?”

This triggered a couple of responses. First was a response by a long-time opponent of the redesign, saying, “Fifth Street is a major vehicular artery. As before, bicyclists probably should avoid Fifth Street in downtown Davis.”

The other response was more positive: “I have been [on a] bicycle – commuting between East Davis and the UC Davis campus for 10 years. In the past, I tended to avoid Fifth Street. Now, I am happy to say that the new bike lanes are working great for me. If I need to turn left, I wait for a break in traffic and then move into the turn lane; I am not sure why people think this is a problem.”

The Vanguard spoke to the city’s new Transportation Manager, Brian Mickelson, who also had some thoughts.

For example, “If the traffic signal is not detecting the cyclist, staff advises dismounting the bicycle and using the crosswalk to make the turns.” He noted that the project “is not entirely complete” and that staff continues to work “with the traffic signal design consultant to dial in the sensitivity of the video camera detection in order to better detect both bicyclists and motor vehicles at all signalized intersections as part of the Fifth Street project.”

Therefore, that seems like a temporary problem that the city will ultimately be able to resolve.

The merge issue was addressed by one of the letter writers, but city staff advises, “Continue signaling and scanning until it is safe to enter into the travel lane. If you do not feel safe merging with traffic, you may complete a two-stage turn by riding through the Fifth and K Street intersection and positioning yourself in the northbound lane on K Street. When traffic is clear, proceed north on K Street.”

Indeed, that is how bicyclists have to handle a lot of major streets, and there is nothing that unique about the Fifth Street situation.

Mr. Mickelson offers similar advice on the lack of signal buttons north and southbound. He writes, “As with the other intersections within the project, Fifth [Russell Blvd.] and A Street is equipped with video detection for bicyclists as well as motor vehicles. The original push buttons at this intersection for bicycles are now obsolete and were removed.”

He again asks for patience, “Again, please bear with us while we dial in the sensitivity of the cameras to better detect all road users and thank you for your patience. “

Given that the city accomplished these changes on the fly with minimal disruption to the traffic, I think it is understandable that there are some tweaks that need to be made – but none of the issues raised supports the view that bicyclists do not belong on Fifth Street.

As Darell Dickey noted in response, “After the redesign, Fifth Street is now a major transportation artery instead of just a motor vehicle artery. After the improvements, very little about that stretch of road is ‘as before.’ It is time to embrace the benefits of the new design – including the cyclists – and realize that each cyclist represents an extra automobile that is NOT driving down the corridor causing pollution, congestion and decreased safety.”

Elaine Roberts Musser, in a comment, added, “It is my understanding that glitches in the timing of the traffic signals still needs to be worked out. But I am glad this article and the comment section are pointing out some fine-tuning that still needs to be done on the 5th St redesign. In general, it is working extremely well, but there is no doubt there is always room for improvement.”

In another comment, she noted, “I agree the 5th St redesign makes it so much better for bicyclists and pedestrians. As a driver, I feel safer because it clearly delineates where bicyclists are supposed to be, and forces traffic to slow down because of the single narrower lane. However, if there are ways to improve it, I think the city should be open to suggestions.”

That seems consistent with the comments from the city.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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    1. darelldd

      I wonder if I’ll now be able to remember that. So often I’ve called it 5th street way out West of 113, and I’ve randomly called it Russell East of the Police Station. Maybe now that I know the exact demarcation, I’ll get it right! I thank you for your pedantrious attention to detail.

        1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

          Actually, Phil, that is not true. While some people mistakenly call Russell Boulevard Road 32, between Davis and Winters, and some maps make this mistake, it was in fact named Russell Boulevard in 1943 by the Board of Supervisors from B Street in Davis to I-505/Grant in Winters. The county adopted that name officially in all the unincorporated stretch, while I suppose the City of Davis adopted the name Russell Boulevard for the small part which was then in town. (It was not until 1945, if memory serves, that Davis annexed College Park, Oak Ave. to W. 8th Street and the part of Russell where todays large, old fraternities/sororities–built originally as family homes*–are.)

          If you care to learn the history, I know of a very good column which gives the details on why it is called Russell Blvd:

          * Earlier this year, the Davis City Council designated one of the big houses along Russell, now a sorority house, as a Historical Landmark. That house was built for Walter Howard, former head of UC Davis and the namesake of Howard Way. One of Dr. Howard’s children, also named Walter (but not a junior) grew up in that house. He is now about 97 or 98 years old, and he has lived for many years on College Park, in the second home his parents built in Davis. The second Walter Howard, known best as Howdy Howard, wrote an autobiography, which, while not professionally edited, is a fun read, and gives you a glimpse into the politics of academia, and specifically his own war with Dr. Tracy Storer, namesake of Storer Hall and husband of Yolo County’s first female doctor, Ruth Risdon Storer.

      1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

        “So often I’ve called it 5th street way out West of 113, and I’ve randomly called it Russell East of the Police Station.”

        A long time ago, 5th Street did not bend from C Street to B Street. It continued west up to the point it ran into B Street, where there was a T-intersection and a stop sign. In order to go to Russell Boulevard from 5th Street, you had to turn left (south) on B Street and then make a right (west) onto Russell, which was then “the highway.”

        That configuration worked fine–and was safer because there was a lot of traffic on the old highway–until two things changed. One, U.S. 40 was moved to where I-80 is today. (It was renamed in 1960.) And Davis grew out to the west, and therefore it made better sense to connect 5th and Russell.

        To make that happen, a small part of Central Park was cut off and 5th Street from C to B was angled in a bend to the southwest.

        Note also that back when Davisville was first laid out, B Street (then called Ash Street) was the western border of the town. 5th Street (then called 4th Street) was the town’s northern border. Davisville was a grid, and its streets were all perpendicular and parallel.

  1. Matt Williams

    Regarding Scenario 2 where you are bicycling eastbound on Fifth Street and turning left onto K Street, but a line of 20 vehicles on Fifth Street won’t let you cross over to the center turn pocket, simply proceed to the green bicycle boxes at the corner of Fifth and L Streets and signal your left turn. The green bike box allows bicyclists to get to the front of the traffic queue on a red light and proceed first when that signal turns green. The bike box also acts as a protected area where left turns can be accomplished safely without vehicle interference, because motor vehicles must stop behind the white stop line at the rear of the bike box when the traffic light is red.

    Bike Box

    Going one bock down to the protected crossing at L Street and then one block back up from L to K before proceeding north on K Street is an inconvenience for a bicyclist, but it does provide a safe solution to Scenario 2. Another safe solution would be for the vehicles to observe road courtesy and allow the bicyclist to move from the bike lane to the center turn pocket at K Street.

  2. citywatch

    I have only one way of dealing with Fifth – I avoid it – period! And I’m not the only one! 4th has become the street of choice for many of us venturing downtown.

    As far as being educated to drive Fifth – are you serious? I guess you are!

    While sitting at the L street intersection the other day, I watched a bus going W on 5th and it stopped in the middle of the street so as to not block the bike lane – to let passengers get off. And of course the cars (2) behind it had to stop while all this was going on – strange site for a thorough-fare street.

      1. Matt Williams

        I’m surprised you are not posting as Peabody today BP. Your Peabody persona would have told you that bicyclists would have to stop anyway in order to yield the right of way to the people getting off the bus. Yielding the right of way to pedestrians shouldn’t piss off bicyclists. They have to do it every day as a matter of course and as a matter of law. Having the bus stop anywhere other than adjacent to the curb is not practical.

          1. Matt Williams

            Not a joke at all. However, if we engage your argument that bikers do not stop for pedestrians, then how does a movement from Fifth Street to Fourth Street change that. There are both bikers and pedestrians in abundance on Fourth Street as well.

            BTW, I do not ride a bike. So I am a neutral party in this kerfuffel. I do own a bike, but it hangs in my garage with two flat tires that have been flat for many years.

          2. Barack Palin

            Citywatch, LOL. The other day I was almost run down by a bicyclist who ran a stop sign while I was crossing the street in a crosswalk. The funny thing is it happened right in front of a bike cop who did nothing.

          3. Alan Miller

            BP, what you may not realize is bicyclists hate those people who blow stop signs without looking; give us all a bad name and bait for the BP’s of the world.

    1. Matt Williams

      The bus scenario you describe citywatch sounds like a training issue for the bus drivers, but it is a question that should be posed to Brian Mickelson.

      Interestingly enough if you had a bus stopping in the old Fifth Street all the right hand lane, the vehicles behind the bus would have had to stop as well. Of course in the old configuration the vehicles could have tried to dart out into the left lane to pass the bus, but whenever that lane was stopped because of a left turning vehicle, the darting accomplished nothing for the darting driver.

      1. citywatch

        I think in the old configuration the bus pulled over close to the curb but now that Fifth has become “bike friendly” so to speak, there is a driver’s fear of encroachment. Thus my avoidance of Fifth altogether.

        8th or 4th my friends, depending upon your destination!

        1. Matt Williams

          You are describing a bus driver training issue. Nothing more, nothing less.

          No matter how close to the curb the bus pulled in the old scenario, the stopped bus blocked right lane traffic in the old scenario.

          My destination is The Graduate at University Mall to watch all the NFL games and have a sandwich and a beer. I’m coming from Mace Ranch. How does using either 4th Street or 8th Street ease/simplify/speed my travel?

          1. Matt Williams

            Interesting. You backtrack from Mace Ranch to the Mace Onramp of I-80 and then go to CA-113 north to Russell and then in Russell to University Mall/The Graduate. I’ll take that route later today and report the time it takes and then compare that time to the time it takes to go down 5th Street to Russell. Do you take the same route in reverse when returning from University Mall/The Graduate to Mace Ranch?

          2. citywatch

            Correct. We use 80/113/Russell frequently.
            Returning, many times we actually go N on Anderson and then East on Covell. We’re not concerned with time either way since we’re both retired. Our routes are more determined by driving ease. Our house is 2 blks. off Covell at the flashing yellow light if you care to drive it for the sake of your time measurement. I’m curious what you find out re: time.

          3. Matt Williams

            I’m trying to think where the flashing yellow light on Covell is. What cross street?

            I was thinking of using Explorit as the starting point. That has always been a good proxy for Mace Ranch in my experience. Korematsu School is another place that works as a Mace Ranch landmark Let me know where I should start.

      2. Frankly

        What I have seen driving east on Fifth with the bus stop that is between D and F streets is the bus blocking the bike lane and the bikers coming up behind the bus passing on the left of the bus and narrowly avoiding a collision with the line of cars passing the bus.

        And sometimes there is two buses and the second one sticks out into the D street intersection.

        So neither solution is perfect. In fact, I think bus stops were the missing element in the Fifth Street road diet plan.

        1. Frankly

          Ok Matt. I should have used a bolded font for Fifth Street.

          As a related aside point, since I have been riding my bike to and from work more often, I find most of my hazards to be pedestrians and other bikers… mostly people walking dogs, talking on cell phones, and young kids riding their bikes to and from school while looking for butterflies and zigzagging on the bike path. But then these are generally hazards of me hitting them, or maybe them causing me to fall off my bike… not getting squished by a car.

  3. South of Davis

    Someone wrote:

    > There are 20 vehicles eastbound that, even though I am signaling for a left turn, will
    > not allow my merge into their lane so I can get to the safety of the center turn lane.
    > How do I complete this left turn safely without blocking other bicyclists in the bike lane?”

    This sounds like it is either a fake question or it is written by someone so clueless that they may need to ask more questions like “I am walking southbound on D Street but homeless people will not allow me to merge in to Peet’s to get a cup of Fair Trade Gaia Coffee, how can I safely get my coffee?” or When walking northbound at the Farmers Market to sign a petition after buying organic avocados I run in to a crowd 20 people in front of the kettle corn booth, how do I get by them to safely make it to the north end of the farmers market?”

    I think the 5th street project is working great, but I’m wondering if anyone knows what all the new triangles painted on 5th street are for?

    1. citywatch

      Street paintings should be universal – how does one driving through Davis to visit our great city possibly interpret these strange street regs when never encountered before? Oh wait, get the Fifth Street Pamphlet before coming here!

      1. darelldd

        This has been asked and answered before – several times. And the answer remains the same: NONE of the features used in the 5th street redesign are unique to Davis. The chances are that visitors from other towns will wonder why it took us so long to catch up to proper street design.

        1. citywatch

          Okay. However, we use our RV ALOT – to different areas and have NEVER, I repeat, NEVER, encountered a street with these signs. So where are they? It’s not like we’re youngsters with fewer driving miles behind us – we’re seasoned drivers with many miles logged in many, many towns and cities. Very perplexing.

          1. darelldd

            > So where are they? <

            There are many markings employed on 5th street? Which would you like examples of?

            Green paint in the bike lanes: That's just about everywhere now. It has been in West Sac for quite a while (leading up to Tower Bridge)… and just about every town where bikes are prevalent. Tons of images here:

            Bike Boxes: Found in countless Bay Area cities, Oregon cities… all across the country. Images here:

            Shark's teeth: Can be found locally by driving Pleasants Valley Road just outside of Winters. Been there for several years near the bridges. Here are some images from around the country and around the world:

            Let me know if there are any specific markings you'd like to see used in other places. I am not kidding when I say that Davis is far behind in these markings. Other US cities have been using them for many years. You mentioned "signs" that you have not seen. Which ones?

          2. citywatch

            Signs that have explanations on them – I prefer to drive defensively which isn’t always the norm here. And that means, not always taking the time to read signs as they occur along the street.

            I remember moving to CA from KS in ’90 and happened to mention to my brother (who was a long-time CA resident) that driving in the left lane on the freeway here in CA was a breeze – no traffic. He laughed and said “You fool – could have cost you $250” and explained to me carpooling. Well, who would have guessed? I was only trying to pay attention to where I was headed – from SF to San Rafael. And so it goes! Not only do we now have to look at overhead signs, side-of-the-road signs, but now painted-on-the-road signs!!

          3. South of Davis

            I have talked to dozens of people in Davis and none (even those who have been driving for over 50 years) know what the white triangles are. Google was not much help and when I Googled “Sharks Teeth” I got (from Wikipedia):

            “A yield line, also called Shark’s teeth or Give Way Line is a type of marking used to inform drivers of the point where they need to yield and give priority to conflicting vehicle or pedestrian traffic at an intersection or roundabout controlled by a yield sign.”

            Am I just missing the “yield signs”? We always need to yield to pedestrians at EVERY intersection so I don’t get why we have these “teeth” on 5th street (unless the street painters union is taking advice from the curb ramp guys and are going to get paid to paint them at EVERY intersection like the curb guys are putting the yellow plastic bump things at every curb)…

          4. darelldd

            >> I have talked to dozens of people in Davis and none (even those who have been driving for over 50 years) know what the white triangles are. <<

            What this says to me, is something we've all know: Our driver education in this country is considerably lacking. When was the last time you had to study the rules of the road (including the meaning of signs?) For most of us it was back in high school. Early high school in fact. And since then? Nothing. Just sort of figure it out as you go seems to be the plan. And this confusion is the result.

            It would be silly to freeze all traffic control in time from 60 years ago. Laws change. Markings change. Signs change. The driving public is not consistently reeducated on these changes. That's both sad and dangerous.

            Don't hold the "new" markings in contempt. Hold our terrible driver education and licensing system in contempt.

          5. citywatch

            Darell, I’ll pick up a copy of the latest instruction booklet at DMV. I had to study it a few years ago to help my Dad renew his license and frankly, I don’t remember seeing anything about “sharks’ teeth”. I definitely wouldn’t want to stick with the old horse and buggy rules but I don’t want to have to be a “traffic scientist” just to go to BofA.

          6. DavisBurns

            We saw them three weeks ago in San Luis obispo . Think we saw them in Salinas or Watsonville when we stopped for lunch.

          7. darelldd

            citywatch –

            Please note that I did not mean to imply that this is as simple as re-taking a driving test. I’m saying that drivers need to actually be taught what is important to make them safe, confident drivers. And that education needs to be continuing as laws and controls change over the years. There’s no way that the handbook can cover all pavement markings. Nor all the law. Have you seen the CVC lately? Bigger than a phone book. The only thing you’ll find about bicycle law in the DMV handbook is disturbingly incorrect. I am right in the middle of trying to correct that, in fact.

            There are many resources to learn about this stuff. Three years ago, I didn’t know what the sharks teeth were either (when I first saw them in SF, and soon after on Pleasants Valley). I asked somebody that probably would know, then did my own research. Keeping yourself educated on this stuff is a noble endeavor, and you get my respect for sure! If none of your friends knows the answer to a road or law question, I am always willing to help. If I don’t know the answer, I have traffic engineer friends and CVC expert friends who do. (email me any time at my username and I’ll be happy to help clear up any of it for you)

      2. Matt Williams

        My understanding is that the green box markings are a standard component of universally accepted street markings across the country. They are the result of the nationwide (dare I say worldwide) Complete Streets initiative.

          1. hpierce

            Thank you for the link… however, you failed to note that the boxes and the green pavement are listed as ‘experimental’ or subject to ‘interim approval’… not an indication of universality, in my view.

      3. darelldd

        > Street paintings should be universal <
        You are in luck, citywatch. Every bit of paint used in the redesign is contained in the Manual on UNIVERSAL Traffic Control Devices. The markings used are, in fact universal. And again – Davis is far from the first city to use any of them. The section specifically on the "new triangles" is here for example:

        As proof that this is not new, here is an article from over four years ago… from Orlando where the Shark's Teeth have been in use WAY before Davis began using them.

        Just because you've not seen them in Davis doesn't mean that visitors from other cities won't already have been using them for years.

        1. citywatch

          And I thought I was well traveled. Apparently not! We have a home in Clearwater, FL and once again, have never encountered any of these road markings. I guess it just depends on where one has been. Maybe with biking on the increase because of the gas prices, it will become more popular for the more denser populated areas. We tend to travel on either freeways, interstates, or smaller suburban areas whenever possible to save on gas and nerves (stop and go).

          1. darelldd

            Rich – nobody is holding Florida up as a model of anything. It was only used to answer the question “where else is it used” as well as the contention that visitors from other towns will be confused by all these unique-to-Davis markings. And maybe most importantly – the sharks teeth have little or nothing to do with the bicycle infrastructure in Davis.

            I could offer any number of links to the sharks teeth being used elsewhere. They’re used just outside of Winters on Pleasants Valley Road, in fact.

          2. DavisBurns

            You are correct. If you travel on freeways, exit for gas, eat at places located with easy on easy off exits. You won’t see these markings. I use the yelp app to find local places to eat and that gets me into town so I do see them. Generally, you don’t find bikes on or near freeways so there’s no need for the signage there.

        2. citywatch

          Rich, auto driving and certainly biking is ridiculously dangerous in FL – hence all the lawsuit ads on the roadways. We bike only on bike trails in FL and drive with extreme caution there.

          Darell, I go to Winters frequently and will check out PV Rd. With all the biking on those back roads, I suspect that’s the reason for the sharks’ teeth markings. Never noticed them before.

          I’m now a triker rather than a biker so I’m not as aware of safety concerns as I once was.

          1. citywatch

            Edit – only to say re: safety concerns – it’s because I don’t trike where I used to bike. Now I stick to greenbelts – not roads!

          2. darelldd

            Citywatch – Sharks Teeth are rarely (ever?) used as part of bicycle infrastructure. They’re used most commonly for pedestrian safety at intersections. They are exceedingly common in cities like SF with huge pedestrian traffic.

            In none of the images in the links I sent are the sharks teeth used specifically for bicycle safety. And certainly not in the article from Florida. I’m not sure how we got so far off track on that one. Just because I post something doesn’t mean it is ALWAYS about bicycles. 🙂

            The sharks teeth out on Pleasants Valley are on either side of a narrow bridge. In this case, it is used to indicate where vehicles should stop to yield to on-coming traffic. I first noticed the paint about five years ago. But that was years after I first started noticing it all over cites in the Bay Area.

          3. Rich RifkinWDE 73

            Solano County recently approved plans to widen Pleasants Valley Road. I hope the construction project does not kill the bucolic ambience of that aptly named valley. Part of the reason–or maybe the whole reason–is because bike traffic has increased substantially (especially on weekends) on Pleasants Valley Road, and I think a lot of the local car drivers want bike lanes/wide shoulders in order to move the bicycles out of their way. That strikes me as a reasonable feeling on their part. Yet I worry it just won’t be such a nice place once trees are felled and it feels more like a highway.

          4. darelldd

            I found them! They can be seen in this 2012 Street View image where Pleasants Valley crosses Miller Canyon Creek. They’re on both sides of the bridge. And I’ll say it one more time: These are for road safety in general. they are not used specifically for bicycle safety.


          5. darelldd

            > car drivers want bike lanes/wide shoulders in order to move the bicycles out of their way. <

            While I also can understand the sentiment, the insignificant amount of automobile traffic on that road currently means that passing cyclists is quite easy, and slows automobiles down for a few seconds at most.

            The plans I've heard have no mention of bike lanes. Only wider shoulders (well, any shoulder would be "wider" than the current "none"). I assume it'll end up looking like Wooden Valley. Smooth, wide, fast, banked turns, no shade because the trees at the road's edge will be removed. A two-lane freeway. Motorists will generally assume that cyclists would need to be riding on the shoulder, when no such requirement exists.

            From what I've heard, the people who live there don't want a high-speed road through their properties, ruining the the rural setting. The people who pass through in cars DO want a high-speed road with room for bikes to "get out of the way."

          6. Rich RifkinWDE 73

            Darrell, ironically you depict the Edward Thurber Bridge in that photo on Pleasants Valley Road. If there is a single spot on PVR from Highway 128 to Vaca Valley Road which needs to be wider to accommodate traffic, the Thurber Bridge is it.

            In very light traffic–which is normally what I find when I encounter it in either direction–its narrow dimension is no problem. However, now and then, I will reach the bridge when some very large groups of cyclists (thinking here of the Davis Bike Racing Team*) are also crossing it, and there will be a little auto traffic coming the other way. It would be safer to have a bridge say 10 feet wider. Heading back toward Putah Creek Road on Pleasants Valley (going north, that is), there are several other bridges (all unnamed as far as I know), but none is as narrow as the Thurber Bridge.

            *For a person of my pace–about 18 mph, depending on grade and wind–it’s pretty excellent to catch a draft with the Bike Racing Team on Pleasants Valley Road. The ride north of Cantelow Road on PVR is fast. It’s not hard for a group of recreational riders to go 25 mph, because it is largely a gradual descent with no sharp turns. Yet on the back of the bike racers, the worst of whom is 10 times better than I am on a bike, I’ve had the fun of riding much faster than that (until my legs scream, “slow down, old man!”).

        3. South of Davis

          The link Darell posted said:

          > This figure illustrates two examples of yield line layouts.

          It did not say what we are supposed to “do” when we see “Sharks Teeth” (that I have never seen before even in my years driving in riding in SF)…

          1. darelldd

            Yup. Because I was responding to the idea that these symbols were somehow unique to Davis, and not “universal” – or… “uniform.”

            You’ve never seen these before in SF? Just turn up Lincoln along the Park sometime. You’ll see them every block. Now that I’m so good at this Street View stuff, I’ll even show you!

            They represent the line behind which you should yield to whatever may be passing through the intersection – generally pedestrians… or cars or bikes. They are placed in advance of crosswalks so that cars don’t nose right up to the first crosswalk line, intimidating the people who are crossing.

            If’ you’d followed the link to the Orlando article I posted earlier, you’d see this:

            “Such a series of triangles is called a yield line. They’re informally referred to as “shark’s teeth.” They are used at “uncontrolled” crosswalks — crosswalks in which the driver is not facing a signal or stop sign — and at roundabouts. They are intended to tell the driver where he or she is required to stop if required to yield.”

            Does that help?

          2. South of Davis

            Darell wrote:

            > They represent the line behind which you should yield to
            > whatever may be passing through the intersection – generally
            > pedestrians… or cars or bikes.

            If the city wants us to stop at “the LINE behind which you should yield”, why not paint a “LINE”

            Any idea why Davis also has “Sharks Teeth” on Drexel in front of the new “speed humps” but over 100 yards from an “intersection”

          1. hpierce

            No… particularly since they are listed as ‘experimental’ or ‘interim approval’… maybe they will be someday, and perhaps they will work in Davis, but to blow off people who have concerns by saying that they are universal and that the city has been behind, is more than somewhat dishonest. What else have you expounded as fact, isn’t?

          2. darelldd

            Seriously, hpierce?

            You’re pretty sure that I have some nefarious agenda here… to educate folks on nation-wide uniform street markings?

            No, it is not dishonest. The symbols are part of the MUTCD. From the DOT site: MUTCD defines the standards used by road managers nationwide to install and maintain traffic control devices on all public streets, highways, bikeways, and private roads open to public traffic.

            All the symbols used in the 5th Street redesign are part of the MUTCD, and all of them have been used elsewhere years before they were used in Davis. Feel free to study the MUTCD before dismissing anything in it so irresponsibly.

            I am not blowing off anybody’s concerns. I am correcting the implications that these symbols are unique to Davis, and that visitors from other cities will find them confusing. They are not unique, and residents from other cities have seen them for years. In support, I used links to countless images and a link to the MUTCD. There’s not much to debate here.

            Knock yourself out.

            Would you like to add something to the conversation, or are you satisfied with annoying the people who are putting effort into it? I realize that you’re just baiting me… and I should be above that. But I admit that you’re pretty good at it! I’ll do my best to ignore you.

          3. hpierce

            Darrell… my intent is not to bait, but half-truths are repugnant to me. I have only used the MUTCD for 40 years, even before it superceded the CalTrans Manual, so I guess I’m a neo-phyte compared to you. Had you not “bent” “uniform” to “universal”, nor had the smug, dismissive attitude (my opinion) to those who questioned the devices, I actually might have applauded your contributions.

            I DO appreciate your links. [Feel free to ignore that]

            My concern is that the Fifth Street details took ‘a little of this, a little of that’ from many good (or, ‘potentially’ good) applications of traffic control devices, added non-“uniform” bike lane marking widths, with a potential of confusing road users as to what their expected behaviors are.

            But, I’ve only been a bicycle driver for ~52 years, so it is reasonable that you would discount my comments.

            I hope that the striping/signing regimen will be successful, but I still have concerns.

          4. darelldd

            Thank you, hpierce. If you had written this initially, there would be a lot less friction, and a lot less wasted time. There’s no need to toot your experience horn. Simply stating what your concerns are is enough.

            I made a mistake using “Universal” instead of “uniform” in the MUTCD. I generally only use the initials, and apparently got all excited about the caps lock when spelling it out to make a point. Like a song caught in my head, I made the mistake a couple of times. And I still contend that the point I was making is unchanged. I “bent” nothing. I mistyped a word. I see several other mistypings in my posts as well… and none of them were meant to create any “half truths.”

            You may be correct that piecing all of these bits of markings and signage together could be a mistake. And the result is obviously confusing to some road users. This does not change the fact that none of these markings are new, or unique to Davis. And that – I hope is obvious – has been my only point all along. That the message got dragged way out of that context is a shame, and a disservice to other readers who are trying to make sense of this.

            Let me emphasize that point once more. Most of what I’ve written here is to support the truth (the real, full truth with no repugnance needed) that:

            >> Nothing used in the 5th Street redesign is unique to Davis. It has all be used in other areas of the USA before it was used on 5th Street. <<

            Feel free to ignore everything else I've said in support of that notion. The point is unchanged with or without the links, or even the "experimental" nature of the years-old markings.

            If you could avoid straying into the inflammatory comments like, "What else have you expounded as fact, isn’t?" I think the discussion will proceed in a more constructive way. In fact, I thought the new rules of commenter conduct were supposed to discourage that sort of thing.

            I don't discount your experience, your knowledge or your cycling ability. I only discount your tangential, negative comments that drag the discussion away from the topic at hand.

    2. Alan Miller

      The triangles are hardly unique. Does anyone here ever drive in the Bay Area? They are a common marking. The triangles are the point at which you are supposed to stop your car for pedestrians crossing the street. They are called “shark’s teeth” in the business.

    3. Anon

      The row of triangles, also called “shark’s teeth”, are markings behind which a car is supposed to stay when a bicycle or pedestrian is crossing. I think it is going to take time for everyone to get used to the new configuration, be it cars, bicyclists or pedestrians. But ultimately it should make it safer for all modes of transportation.

  4. Alan Miller

    The markings on 5th street are not that strange. You can find the same markings in many cities in the Bay Area. There will be more of this.

    To those who say they avoid 5th Street: That’s most bikes used to do. In all such comments is the hidden message: “streets are for cars”.

    The person who wrote this doesn’t seem to understand the practicalities of biking. If you can’t merge into the car lane to turn left due to the quantities of cars, which happens all the time in other locations as well, cross the intersection and wait at the corner until you can cross the street. You end up in the same place, case closed. Maybe in an ideal world cars would let you merge because cars and bikes really are equal, but in reality they are not. Deal with it.

    The one item on which I’ll side with those who don’t like the bike amenities on 5th Street is the bike box. I may change my mind if I come to understand it. I’ve watched videos, tried it, contemplated it. I can see situations in which they would actually cause accidents, such as if a bike slides into one just as a car is accelerating on a fresh green. I think the bike box is one step too far, but I’ll stay open minded if someone wants to try to explain the advantage.

      1. darelldd

        Or… there’s always the simple option of driving defensively and safely everywhere you go. The rest will take care of itself. Honestly – I’ve driven in countries where I don’t speak or read the language at all. And by paying attention, I managed to get where I needed to go without messing up the system. A bit of green paint isn’t anything to get nervous about.

        1. hpierce

          Ok… gonna “bait you” again. You are absolutely right on your comment, and the basic message of “think before you do” is one that needs to be hammered home more than any traffic control detail.

  5. Mont Hubbard

    Things (and specifically the Fifth Street redesign) are not all about bicycles. To modify the title question a bit: Are There Still Pedestrian Concerns On Fifth Street. The answer is “Yes.” Here are two:

    1. Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons have been installed to aid pedestrians in crossing Fifth at C and K Streets. These are identical to the one on Russell at California. Disconcertingly the one on the west side of C Street to alert eastbound cars (this is crucial for pedestrians crossing Fifth during the Farmers Market) has been installed pretty much directly behind a tree trunk and is essentially invisible to eastbound car drivers. Several near misses have been observed when the beacon is flashing and pedestrians are crossing and presuming they are protected, but eastbound drivers can’t see it flashing. How could this have happened if the inspectors in the Construction Division of Public Works (who are responsible for proper installation of the design) were properly doing their inspection job? Good question. Maybe it is being taken care of.
    2. Pedestrian medians (areas between double yellow lines at each unsignaled intersection) were included and, in the design approved by the Council, were to have been 4.5 feet wide. These act as a place where a pedestrian can wait safely to cross the second lane. The one at K St was painted too narrow by about 1.5 feet! In other words, it wasn’t built in conformance with the design drawings. How could this have happened if the inspectors were properly doing their inspection job? Good question.

    1. Jim Frame

      I’m dismayed to see that one of my most-often used crossings of 5th/Russell — the one at University Avenue in front of City Hall — doesn’t have the flashing beacons, nor any indication of infrastructure for same. This crosswalk is especially hazardous because eastbound traffic coming from the A Street intersection can’t easily see pedestrians crossing from the north (City Hall) due to the median vegetation. Pedestrians have to stand in the crosswalk and gingerly peek around the median to see what’s coming, but even when they get in view of the auto traffic, a very small minority of drivers acknowledge the crosswalk — they just keep on zooming toward B Street.

      The visibility problem doesn’t exist for northbound pedestrians, but that doesn’t seem to help much; most drivers ignore the hopeful pedestrian standing on the curb waiting to cross.

      1. Mont Hubbard


        It would be a great idea to report this to the authorities. I find that vegetation often impedes safety. The vegetation of which you speak could be removed or trimmed severely vertically if it really is a problem (I do believe you). If we use this crossing regularly then we become the “experts” and then I think it’s incumbent on us to tell City Hall that it needs to be fixed (especially since it’s adjacent to City Hall!). DK Kemp and Brian Mickelson are the contact persons on the planning side. I suspect they would be responsive.

    1. Barack Palin

      Mont, funny story, I didn’t complain to the bike cop because he had given me a seatbelt ticket just a week prior to which I was very mad about. I had some choice words for him but I must say he remained very professional as he still gave me the ticket. I had my reasons for feeling I didn’t deserve the ticket but he wasn’t having it. I’m sure he would’ve remembered me and I didn’t want that confrontation. But, he gives someone a ticket for not having a seatbelt but lets someone slide on running a stop sign. If bikes want to be treated the same as cars they also deserve the same policing.

      1. Frankly

        There is a funny scientific problem with the definition of stop. If you take a photograph of me riding through a stop sign I will appear to have stopped (not moving). Depending on the speed of the camera shutter and the speed I am traveling, on close inspection of the pixels you might be able to make the case that I was not stopped but moving. But the with a high-speed camera, you might not be able to tell.

        The point is that everything in motion is actually stopped a any single point in time.

        And when I ride my bike, am I any safer coming to a longer-lasting stop than I am crossing when the traffic is clear? I would argue that I am less safe the longer I am stopped because I lack immediate maneuverability to get out of the way.

        Now a car is different. Because a car driving even at slow speed can squash a pedestrian or biker. A car coming to a long-lasting stop is a traffic requirement because lesser modes of transportation need to know when it is safe to cross or not. The car driver needs to stop and look both ways for a reason that includes others on the road. The bike ride too needs to look both ways, but I reject the idea that the bike rider or anyone else on the road is made more safe by demanding the biker come to a long-lasting stop.

        1. Barack Palin

          She blew the stop sign with no attempt at stopping and it was I that ended up dodging her because she had no clue. If she had stopped at least when she started up again she would’ve been moving slower so if she had hit me Im sure there would’ve been less chance of an injury. I can agree with you about the need for bikes coming to a full stop doesn’t necessarily make things safer but a lot of that depends on who’s operating the bike, if it’s a dummy then they need to stop at stop signs.

      2. darelldd

        >> If bikes want to be treated the same as cars they also deserve the same policing. <<

        Yet apparently you didn't deserve the "same policing" when not wearing your seatbelt in the car? Cyclsts should obey the law at all times, but car drivers should maybe be able to fudge a bit? I don't follow the logic. You come to a complete stop at all stop signs, and never speed in your car, I assume?

        In the same way that pedestrians don't wish to be treated as cyclists, cyclists generally don't wish to be treated as cars. Each mode is unique, with its unique needs. Pretending that bikes are slow, two-wheeled cars clearly doesn't work well in several traffic situations. But that's how we've decided to classify them.

        1. Barack Palin

          Heyy dddarrrellll, there’s a big difference between running a stop sign and not wearing a seatbelt. You don’t know the circumstances or my reasons for feeling I didn’t deserve the ticket so for you to make any determination is well just stupid.

        2. DavisBurns

          Has anyone besides me ever gotten on their bike, put on helmet, foot clicked into pedal and felt like they were forgetting to fasten their seat belt. It’s happened a couple of times and is an odd feeling. Maybe been driving too much.

          1. Matt Williams

            John, Practical and I have to be in the same place at the same time, but only one at a time. So if I wasn’t there, John and Practical couldn’t have been there. As a woman, Peabody lives by a different set of spatial rules. She has curves where none of the rest of us do, and we have curves where she doesn’t. She could have been there, but the chances are very low.

            John only exists when there are legal provisions that say that I can’t exist. Practical has memory loss, so he doesn’t know how to exist any more. As I told you on Tuesday, tt would be practical if it were practical, but it isn’t practical. Practicality only comes in one flavor. Practicality only happens when there is a legal prohibition in effect that makes non-practicality impractical.

  6. Frankly

    I was dubious of the Fifth Street road diet plan. Although we have not hit peak school year traffic yet, I am pleasantly surprised that it is working as well as it is.

    The good:

    1. Auto traffic does seem to move smoothly enough. I have only had one occasion driving east during morning rush hour where I got held up for two light changes at B street. It was caused by two red busses that were stopped at the stop at D street.

    2. No bikers or pedestrians have been squished (that I know of) as a result of the changes.

    3. It is easier/safer to cross due to the more simple assessment of two-lanes verses four-lanes of traffic.

    The bad.

    1. The road markings seem to confuse more people.

    2. Bus stops are now more problematic for both car and bike traffic due to the lack of lanes to go around the bus as it is stopped.

    3. There are more cars on the surrounding surface streets apparently avoiding Fifth street.

    I will reserve my final opinion until after we heat the school year peak of traffic, but at this point I would give it an A- and call it a success.

    1. hpierce

      I believe that buses can legally enter the striped bike lanes to drop off passengers. They do it everywhere that I’m aware of. Perhaps the fact that the Fifth street stripes are now 12″ wide rather than 6″ has confused the young bus drivers.

  7. Chicolini

    “Solano County recently approved plans to widen Pleasants Valley Road. I hope the construction project does not kill the bucolic ambience of that aptly named valley. ”

    Rich, though the name of PVR might fit one’s sense of place and serenity (now), it actually reflects the name of a family that owned prpperty out that way. Also, if you’re keeping uo with Saturday morning race ride from Davis to Dantelow and back then you’re doing something right regarding fitness and health. Impressive.

    1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

      “it actually reflects the name of a family that owned prpperty out that way.”

      Yes, I know that. I ride by the Pleasants family ranch/orchards on Putah Creek Road (very near Lake Solano) all the time. In fact, I will be riding up there tomorrow morning with the Davis Bike Club.

      1. Chicolini

        And here I thought possibly I was adding to your vast encyclopedic knowlege given your association of the name of the road with “bucolic ambiance”. One can only go on what one reads in print. But you set that straight. Again impressive that you’re riding out to Cantelow with DBC and its blistering pace.

  8. Rich RifkinWDE 73

    Although this has nothing to do with the road diet on Fifth Street, I have a traffic question for a nearby signal. Does anyone know why the City of Davis has set the signal lights which control the College Park/Howard Way-Russell Blvd intersection such that the green light for Russell is very short in duration while the perpendicular green is quite long?

    I should note that I had never known how convenient it was to cross Russell from College Park onto Howard Way until I started swimming at the Hickey Gym pool. Every time I bicycle up to the light at Russell (coming from W. 8th Street via College Park), it is either green or it turns green as I approach. Fifteen to twenty cars and buses are often backed up waiting on Russell, while the light stays green for me on my bicycle. It’s awesomely great from my perspective. However, in terms of keeping traffic moving and benefitting the majority of people (who are traveling in cars on Russell Blvd), it makes no sense.

    My first thought was that the rich and powerful people who live on College Park twisted arms to get the signal set this way for their own benefit. Or possibly it was the influence of university people who want to be able to speedily exit the campus by stopping the cross traffic on Russell. It may partially be explained by those factors. But a neighbor of mine (who is a civil engineer for the state) told me, when I posed this question to him, that it is likely an effort to slow the traffic on Russell so it won’t create as much of a bottleneck on Fifth Street. Keep in mind that the College Park signal was biased in favor of north-south traffic at that intersection long before the road diet was put in place. But my C.E. friend still thinks that is why the City decided to calm the traffic there, much like CalTrans puts signals at some onramps during rush hour, in order to slow the number of cars entering freeways at once.

    Anyone know?

    1. South of Davis

      Rich wrote:

      > Anyone know?

      I don’t “know” but when a lot of “movers and shakers” tend to live in a small area things seem to always benefit that area (other examples include Professorville in Palo Alto, Hillsborough on the Peninsula Presidio Heights in SF and Ross in Marin)…

    2. darelldd

      The left turn signal that I use every day to enter my neighborhood stays green for exactly five seconds once activated by my bike. When on the tandem, that gives me just enough time to get both feet off the ground, and the front wheel just beyond the white limit line. I then spend the entire yellow arrow cycle (exactly three seconds) trying to scoot across the intersection before everybody else sees green. If instead of just me being at the turn, there is at least one car behind me. the green says for 15 seconds.

      I’m thinking I might not be rich and powerful enough.

  9. Chicolini

    My concerns have to do with the type of paint that is used for the green sections. It has a very enameled surface feel to it., much like the the white line paint surfaces. When it rains this paint surface will be a bit tricky to negotiate.

    1. darelldd

      Both the paint and the thermoplastic used for the markings offers noticeably more traction when wet than does the surrounding pavement. They add grit to the paint (like all paint on the road now) and the thermoplastic is engineered with wet and dry traction in mind. None of this is by chance. Go forth and ride on green confidently!

  10. Anon

    The green is not paint, but some sort of “plastic” sheeting laid down on the road. It is supposed to give bikes more traction and not be slippery as paint would be. I heard this from a city engineering staffer who described it. I’m not sure if “plastic” is the correct term, but I know it is not regular paint.

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