Guest Commentary: Solution for Mace is to Regulate Traffic at Mace and Montgomery

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By Jason Taormino

The problem with the Mace Blvd traffic is Waze and other mapping solutions. They are rerouting drivers off of highway 80, down Treemont and up Mace Blvd on Thursday and Friday evenings because it is faster than staying on highway 80. This was the case before the construction on Mace started and went from two lanes to one lane. This traffic phenomenon started about two years ago – before the Mace Blvd road construction started. The only solution is to set up a temporary traffic signal at Mace and Montgomery and regulate the cars so they do not effect local traffic. In other words, make a proactive decision to create a traffic jam in the country side rather than have it exist in our neighborhoods.

This solution does not appear to be capturing the imagination of management or our elected officials.

Perhaps I am one of the few people that live off Mace Blvd and drive their car all over town morning, noon and evenings but this has given me a clear understanding that we have issues all over town, every day and especially Thursday and Friday evenings. These issues exist for two main reasons. First and foremost the Waze app hit a critical point about two years ago. Secondarily, the City decided to marginalize cars in favor of bikes. Lastly, regional population growth has us approaching critical mass where we just have too many drivers for too few lanes and the result is a traffic flow that does not meet our desires. However, the largest factor is clearly Waze and dealing with that head on is the only long term endeavor that has a chance.

Here is what is happening on any given evening when we have traffic problems which illustrates why we have real issues all over town and not just on Mace. Drivers are exiting 80 and heading north on 113. They get off on Rusell Blvd and cause congestion on Russell and head up to 8th street and cause problems there as well. They also use Covell Blvd with the same results. Now they are using the Pole Line over crossing to cross back over 80 and not just Mace on both sides of the freeway. Friday afternoon at 3:30 it took me a half an hour to get from Emerson to my house in south Davis. That is normal. I drove north on 113 and then took road 29 to Pole Line into south Davis. At two of the signalized intersections I had to wait through two red light changes. My point is that traffic is a mess all over town and 90% of the issue is highway 80 commuters using Yolo County and City of Davis roads to by pass a few miles of highway 80 before reentering 80 ahead of the causeway.

Additionally, the city controlled changes eliminating free right turns for cars, reducing the size of car lanes, increasing the size of bike lanes and generally trying to provide special status for bikes – over cars is just now creeping into the conversation for the average Davisite. It is driven by a small group of organized and passionate people who have really won the battle over the past few years. Bikes won and cars lost. The reduction of lanes on 5th street illustrates this perfectly. There are now lots of bikers on 5th street and the traffic effects for cars has been dramatic and negative. I picked up my daughter at Redbud Montessori on 5th street in far West Davis every day in the late afternoon for two years prior to the road diet. 5th street from Stonegate all the way to L street was an easy drive. The lane reduction happened in mid summer and as soon as the students came back 5th was a mess at rush hour. Soon I was headed to 8th street and within a few weeks time enough people figured that out that it was a mess as well. My then new standard procedure was to use Covell Blvd to get to south Davis. With the $10,000,000 bike improvements underway on Covell at the little league diamond as well as the elimination of the free right turn for cars I expect traffic issues for the foreseeable future at Covell and F.

The city is spending serious money on this current pro bike initiative. Unfortunately, much of it is theory rather than data driven facts. For example, the elimination of free right turns for cars. The data clearly shows that fewer cars can flow in one direction when the free right is eliminated. However, there is no data that it is safer for bikers and pedestrians. The 5th street road diet – that was expensive, reduced car throughput at rush hour and the lights were not set up to be timed for maximum traffic throughput. It was not a win win solution. My favorite truth which now controls our municipal code is that if we have narrower car lanes people will drive slower. Having lived in Europe for five years I can attest that narrow streets do not slow down cars. It might work for a short term until drivers accept the challenge. Pedestrian deaths in Europe, caused by cars, is far higher than in the US.

A friend of mine had a great read on the anger coming out of south Davis. “People tend to live in south Davis because they don’t want to deal with the Davis baloney and now that boloney has come to them and they are furious.”


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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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21 thoughts on “Guest Commentary: Solution for Mace is to Regulate Traffic at Mace and Montgomery”

  1. Alan Miller

    I completely reject the low-brow, anti-bike, pro-car tone of this article, with unsubstantiated sweeping assertions such as ‘more cars kill bicyclists in Europe’.  What the hell does that even mean?  It’s like saying ‘there’s a lot more intense weather in Africa than the US’.

    Despite that, if the author had stuck to his main point instead of going on an acidic anti-bike rant, the below is a great suggestion, one that I had not heard of before as a possible mitigation:

    The only solution is to set up a temporary traffic signal at Mace and Montgomery and regulate the cars so they do not effect local traffic.

    While you cannot cut off the route that WAZE routes cars to during high-traffic, you CAN regulate the flow.  This may only be part of the solution — but a signal of this sort triggered by high-traffic volumes is feasible.  This would take a lot of cooperation with county officials to deal with businesses and residents south of Davis on Mace and how they will be effected.

    And the Mace Mess is a bloody shame in design.

    And just to make clear:  BICYCLES will win the GREAT DAVIS CAR-BICYCLE WARS OF THE 2020’s.  Four lanes of bicycles on every road, no lanes for cars, fill in the car lanes with four story stack & packs, no automobile exits off the Great Satan I-80, and put a roof on I-80!

    1. Craig Ross

      I tend to believe – having gone out there a few times in the last week – that this whole situation was overblown.  There are some concerns that should be addressed, but the level of angst here has been disproportionate to say the least.

    2. Bill Marshall

      Alan… for clarity… the intersection of Mace (CO 104) and Montgomery is weird, as to jurisdiction… 3/4 of the abutting property in in Yolo County, 1/4 within City limits… the R/W itself, is a tad ambiguous… theoretically, Mace, to the s’ly boundary of Montgomery is in the City.  Same for the Montgomery leg.  Mace (aka CR 104) south leg is in the County, no City jurisdiction.

      Jason has a number of factual errors… as do others who have offered “facts”.  I leave the “spin”/opinions to others, except to note that neither “side” is being truly honest… my informed opinion, and experience… not worth my time to go point by point, but “truth” is not yet on the table.  Y’all can rant on, to hearts’ content.

      It’s the ‘American Way’…

        1. Alan Miller

          you alone are the one who knows the “truth”

          A common “disease” in the Vanguard Comment section.  I’ll leave it to those with knowledge of the DSM to render a ‘diagnosis’.  And no, I’m no singling anyone out, and am including myself.

          you aren’t willing to share

          Not worth his time . . . but is worth his time to let us know that it isn’t worth his time.

  2. Darell Dickey

    I suppose that the massive congestion on HWY 80 is also caused by people on bikes?

    Welcome to Davis. Please drive so that our congestion improves.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Darell… perhaps you meant “Please don’t drive, so our congestion improves…”?

      And tongue in cheek, do we want congestion to “improve” (i.e. more congestion), or do we wish to mitigate/reduce it… think I know what you meant…

      Sidebar… before the old bikepath in the Causeway, long before the bikepath was constructed as part of the Causeway, it was legal for bikes (and peds?) to traverse the causeway, from Webster on/offs to first on/off ramps in W Sac.  Old law that required any mode accommodated in the past, to be accommodated with new interstate improvements… unless there was a viable option… am thinking that law is still on the books…

      I biked that route several times in college, when my only vehicle was a bike… not that bad unless you were traversing during sugar beet season (a lot of sugar beets ended up on the right side!), and as long as you didn’t mind your sphincter tightening up as a semi raced by… days when I thought I was immortal, and didn’t even wear a helmet!  As far as I recall, no injuries/deaths occurred.  CHP even offered to ‘shadow’ bicyclists as they had a right to be on the Causeway… never invoked that protection.

      So, no Darell, bicycles and their drivers do not cause the ‘congestion’ (which only occurs ~ a total of 8 hours a day or less) on I-80, then, or now.

      I always planned my life to avoid congestion on roads… grew up a couple of blocks from 101 in San Mateo… usually used El Camino Real, 280, or surface streets to do so then.  Still think in terms of times of day and simpler routes.

      1. Darell Dickey

        Bill,

        Add a sarcasm emoticon, and assume that the only way to “improve” congestion is to reduce it. Then I think we’re good to go.

        Some fun facts:

        Yes, the accommodation law still exists. If there’s no other way to get there from here, it is legal to ride on the freeway. In fact it is always legal to ride on the freeway unless specifically prohibited.
        Under California law, bicycles are not vehicles.
        If I’m guessing your era correctly, you could not have worn a bicycle helmet, because they hadn’t quite been invented yet.
        I was also immortal back then.

        Cheers,

         

        1. Darell Dickey

          OK, so those bullet items were all nicely formatted when I hit “submit.” If I sent more money, can we get that working again? I just tried again and I guess that’s a feature that doesn’t work.

        2. Bill Marshall

          Actually, Darell, they had been invented, but were pretty much only in use by serious “road-riders”… then, shortly thereafter, became ‘de rigeur’ for children with protective parents… by early ’80’s became mandatory for Davis Double Century (I rode that in ’76 & ’77, and then learned my reach should not exceed my grasp)… wore a helmet in the 80’s, and since, primarily to “model” behavior for others…

          ‘Brain buckets’, now that they are well designed, protective, light, well ventilated, and often ‘stylish’, use is a “no brainer”… particularly when one comes to grips that physical immortality is not “real”…

          Like gravity, bike helmets, for those under 18 aren’t just a good idea, it’s a law!  And still a darn good idea for those older…

  3. Rik Keller

    So, Dave Taormino attacks the Bicycle, Transportation, and Street Safety Commission on Next Door accusing them of wanting to endanger drivers (“The commission that makes these decisions is all about bike enthusiasts and anti auto safety.” [my emphasis]) and gets called out for it, and then his son turns around and writes this factually incorrect article saying many of the same things but in a watered-down version?

     

    1. Alan Miller

      OH THAT HAPPENED?  Can you reprint or give a link?  Probably actually need a reprint as I don’t do social media and probably can’t access this Next Door thing.

    2. Rik Keller

      OH THAT HAPPENED?  Can you reprint or give a link?  Probably actually need a reprint as I don’t do social media and probably can’t access this Next Door thing.

      yes, it happened. I am not on Next Door, so I just have screenshots. The statement by Dave Taormino verbatim:

      “27 Mar. The whole point is to discourage care use and punish auto drivers. The commission that makes these decisions is all about bike enthusiasts and anti auto safety.”

      Comments in response to him included:

      *” edited 28 Mar. Mr Taormino, you are entirely incorrect in this assessment of local sustainable transportation advocates. We wish to live in a city where transport works for everyone, and where they fell free to use the means of transport that makes the most sense to them – the condition of course is that is shouldn’t harm others and must be paid for in a reasonable fashion.

      Frankly, your comments are ugly and inappropriate, and you should apologize in writing to the parties you are targeting, which seem to be Bike Davis abd the Bicycling, Transportation, and Street Safety Commission. Thanks.”

      * “Edited 3 Apr. To accuse the bike commission . . . of being “anti auto safety” is over the top, and yes, ugly and inappropriate. If Davisites are accusing their neighbors of this kind of cruelty, then that is pretty sad. [x] was right to call out Dave Taormino on this.”

       

  4. Rik Keller

    Pedestrian deaths have been spiking in the U.S. One wonders why the Taorminos are unconcerned by this and want to prioritize fast auto traffic flow above everything else?

    https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-03-19/pedestrian-deaths-are-rising-on-america-s-roads

    What’s Killing U.S. Pedestrians? Streets That Weren’t Designed for Them.
    Walking downtown is actually pretty safe. Out on the bypass, it’s another story.
    March 19, 2019

    “…The Governors Highway Safety Association estimated, based on data from the first half of the year, that 6,227 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in 2018. This would be a whopping 50 percent more than were killed in 2009. Adjusted for population, the increase hasn’t been quite so steep, and seems like it might have halted after 2016. But after decades of declines, the turnaround since 2009 is still awful….
    …densely populated, pedestrian-packed cities such as New York simply aren’t where the main problem is these days. Here are the 2017 pedestrian fatality rates for the country’s 20 most-populous cities…The most pedestrians are getting killed, then, in sprawling Sun Belt cities not known for having lots of pedestrians. In their suburbs, too….

    ….Where in these cities and suburbs are pedestrians getting killed? Not downtown or on residential streets, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found in a 2018 study. 1 Most of the fatal accidents, and most of the increase, happened on arterials — those high-capacity roads of four lanes or more, often lined with strip malls, fast-food outlets and motels, that are such a defining (if less than universally admired) element of the modern American-built environment.”

     

  5. Tia Will

    Much like Bob Dunning before him, Jason Taoromino correctly identifies the problem as too many cars, and then, proceeds to blame bicyclists and their city advocates for the problems they themselves have identified as due to cars. Very curious.

    1. Alan Miller

      Having worked in the alternative transportation field for decades, and that being of interest for a lifetime, I have concluded that people such as the author believe evangelically that the automobile has dominion over other forms of transportation, similar to the statement in the bible that man has dominion over animals.

  6. Rik Keller

    Good for Jason Taormino that he lived in Europe for 5 years, but he could not be more wrong in his statement: “Pedestrian deaths in Europe, caused by cars, is far higher than in the US.”

    The reality is that despite MUCH higher rates of pedestrian travel, European countries actually have much lower rates of pedestrian fatalities than the U.S.

    Data from the World Health Organization, Global Health Observatory for 2012/13 . I threw Canada into the mix too:

    Pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 population
    Netherlands: 0.33
    UK: 0.66
    Germany: 0.72
    Canada: 0.94
    U.S.: 1.54

    Note: I derived this from the data for “road fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants” multiplied by “distribution of road traffic deaths by type of road user (%)” for pedestrians from this source: https://www.who.int/gho/road_safety/mortality/en/

     

    1. Alan Miller

      I am looking forward to the Taormino Family data sources for their statement in this article that will counter the figures you sited with source.  I’m sure they will be posted promptly.

    1. Rik Keller

      “So Canada is kind of the U.S.”
      Kind of. 50% lower traffic death rate. About the same overall rates of pedestrian/bicycle modes (which, if one considers the overall less favorable weather there, means we have fewer excuses here in the U.S.)

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