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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

This intersection needs help

Okay, I like laughing at dumb drivers as much as the next person, but something tells me it's not always that simple. For context, go look at this video about a bunch of people blowing through a "no turn on red" situation at Otis and Park in Alameda.

Now bring up that same intersection in a convenient mapping program or web site. The direction they're talking about here is northbound Park to eastbound Otis. Notice what happens with the road there.

Way back before Walgreens, the road goes from being two through lanes to having a dedicated right turn lane and the remaining lane which then later splits off a left turn pocket. Normally, a dedicated right turn lane would imply special treatment at the light. You might put one there to let right-turning vehicles "slip around" the ones who are queued up to go straight. This dedicated right turn lane is actually longer than the left turn pocket!

If right on red is no longer legal, then there is absolutely no reason to let cars slip around. Dump that dedicated right turn lane and realign things so that the left turn lane lines up with the #1 (left) lane back by Walgreens, and that the remaining lane is marked with "straight or right" arrows.

They don't even have to commit to this all the way at first. Just get a bunch of construction barrels, fill them with water or sand or whatever, put some flashing lights on top, and plop them down between the "straight through" lane and the curb. Basically, force people to get bottled up behind traffic which isn't turning. This should introduce some friction to the situation and stop the actual "bad behavior". If it doesn't pan out, they can remove the barrels trivially.

Just remember what I've said about too many users being wrong. It all comes down to what they're trying to do: stop turns on red, presumably for ped safety, or write tickets?