What's the fuss over Black Avenue | December 20, 2013 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |


Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - December 20, 2013

What's the fuss over Black Avenue

Those who drive on Black Avenue must be wondering why all the fuss over occasional heavy traffic and why the need to spend more than $400,000 in taxpayer funds to make it the road less traveled. Black Avenue is unique in Pleasanton and those who live along the route, and have been the complainers, knew what they were getting when they bought their homes. Alisal Elementary at one end and Walnut Grove Elementary at the other were there long before most moved onto Black Avenue or the intersecting side streets. The Dolores Bengtson Aquatic Center along with its hot weather crowds and occasional swim tournaments have been part of life (and traffic) on Black Avenue for decades. The post office with its 5 p.m. deadline customers and the Gingerbread preschool across the street also are old-timers. Add Lynnewood Methodist Church and a Quarry Lane school and Black Avenue, probably more than any other residential street, has traffic.

Complaints have been coming into City Hall ever since the city's first traffic signal was installed at Black and Santa Rita Road in the 1970s. Obviously, it's all too much for a street so narrow that there's no room for a bicycle lane. So last year, the Black Avenue neighbors found a friend in Traffic Engineer Mike Tassano, who organized a "traffic calming" meeting to consider remedies. The $405,000 program presented to the City Council is his answer, which is a bit much for the $25,000 his department has for traffic calming programs throughout the city in a single year. So while accepting his recommendations, not much will happen until next July when funds can be made available in the 2014-15 Fiscal Year budget.

Looking at Tassano's plan, however, conjures up an image of the huge costs the city incurred in construction traffic circles on Vineyard Avenue when that new roadway was installed between Montevino and Ruby Hill. The circles lost favor with the motoring public shortly after they were finished. In the end, about a year later, the city paid to have them removed.

Tassano's plan calls for similar traffic calming elements such as curb "bulb outs," which will provide very narrow lanes at some intersections and crosswalks, a roadway "neckdown" in front of the aquatic center, which will do much the same, a trial speed "lump" that will slow vehicles to a crawl, 25 mph pavement legends painted on the roadway, and possibly another electronic sign to show motorists' speeds.

Tassano said that a traffic speed survey shows motorists are traveling an average of 31 mph., about typical of neighborhood streets where posted speeds are 25 mph. The suggested changes might reduce those averages, but probably not the volume because Black Avenue will continue to be the street of choice, really the only street that parents, students, swimmers church go-ers and postal customers can use to reach their destinations.


Posted by bikingardener, a resident of Country Fair
on Jun 8, 2014 at 10:11 pm

Bulb-outs and necking down of the roadway have the unintended consequence of forcing a bicycle rider to swing out into traffic, since there is no safe way for a car to pass a cyclist at one of these points. Since swinging out into traffic is a dangerous move for a cyclist, it is preferable that the cyclist just remain in the center of the traffic lane. If I ride this way, the motorists behind me will be very annoyed and most likely start blowing their horns, so the residents of Black Avenue should brace themselves for a noisier environment.

Alternatively, I suppose I could drive my car to the Post Office rather than ride my bike. I'm guessing the local residents don't really expect these "traffic-calming" methods to actually increase the number of cars on Black.

Posted by just say no, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2014 at 8:37 am

Just say no to bulb outs. They collect leaves,garbage and dirt so sweeping is not effective; people run into and over them and damage the concrete and their cars; they look ugly; and in my opinion they reduce safety by putting obstructions in the roadway that force the lanes of traffic and cars closer together. Politicians and community development folks seem to love them. Enough said.

Posted by David Lee, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Jun 9, 2014 at 8:46 am

Driving Black Avenue is always a challenge and should continue to be such. Schools, churches, post office, businesses, recreation....all play a part in a two lane street for slow moving traffic. I'd say live with it rather than spend $400,000.00 plus most likely to get more of the same with additional problems that have already been mentioned. Timing is a key if you are so concerned or in such a hurry. Travel on Valley!...if you live on Black, so be it. You probably knew the post office would be handy, and churches, businesses and a rather large park with recreational facilities were there before you....If you didn't, oh, well....Leave Black alone. Spend the $400,000.00 somewhere else...perhaps find a way to utilize the water wells in this town to aid in our water issues?

Posted by PAT QUINN, a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Jun 9, 2014 at 8:54 am

Move and leave the 400,000.Try next to the airport then complain about the noise.

Posted by pleasanton was nice forty years ago, a resident of Del Prado
on Jun 9, 2014 at 8:57 am

Same old song People move into a neighborhood. Then they want the city to change the neighborhood to their liking. Can you say selfish. If the residents of pleasanton were this selfish years ago most of these people would have never moved here. I have an idea lets close the post office, park and schools so the people on black dont have to deal with traffic. Problem solved.

Posted by Cletus the Petus, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2014 at 9:00 am

(Comment partially removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff)

Pleasanton is in dire need of arterials to move traffic. Black Ave. was one of the very first of those arterials. Then people start built house on this arterial and now they want to build barriers so the traffic can't flow. If moving traffic on Black was a problem, then whey in the h*ll did these people buy houses on this arterial?

Pleasantonians need to start raising h*ll with the City Council to ensure these moronic barriers are not installed on Black. . . .

Posted by Outraged, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jun 9, 2014 at 9:14 am

It is incomprehensible that over $400,000 would be spent to reduce traffic on Black Avenue. This is not a new road and most of the people who bought homes on Black should have known that Black is not a quiet street. To reduce traffic on Black would mean that traffic would be increased through other residential streets. The stupidity of this is obvious. Black Ave is the logical route to get to the Post Office, Dentists offices, the Swim Center, Walnut Grove and Alisal. Reducing traffic on Black would cause more congestion other streets/neighborhoods. Come on people, no one likes traffic but trying to change logical routes to please a few is ludicrous! I would never have bought a house on Black Ave because I too, dislike traffic. Those that did, did so knowing (or should have known) that Black was a well traveled road. Instead of spending money diverting traffic, give tickets to those who speed on Black and make some money for the city.

Posted by Valley Ave neighbor, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2014 at 9:31 am

Living on a street intersecting with Valley Ave, the dumping ground, I am offended that we would spend that sum on Black, which I consider a quiet, peaceful, street lined with shade trees. Never a penny is spent to alleviate Valley Ave problems. It's always just go to Valley as the default for all traffic problems. There are several $400,000. improvements that could be made on Valley Ave for 'real' problems.

Posted by cosmic-charlie, a resident of Downtown
on Jun 9, 2014 at 10:03 am

A few years ago, Menlo Park tried the same traffic mitigation schemes for Santa Cruz Ave that are being suggested for Black Avenue. They completely screwed up Santa Cruz Avenue between the park across the street from Pete's Coffee all the way down to the end where Santa Cruz takes a left turn at the cemetery. They installed barriers that pushed traffic over to the side right next to where the pedestrian and bicycle lanes were. Believe me, it was the most boneheaded thing I have ever seen.

Needless to say their scheme completely failed, as it clogged up the whole length of Santa Cruz Avenue and caused accidents. There used to be 3 lanes, one in each direction with a wide middle lane for people turning left before the modification. They spent whole lot more than the $400,000 that is being suggested here.

After the outcry became so intense from not only the residences in the neighborhoods, but also those people that used Santa Cruz Avenue to get up to Sand Hill Road and Stanford University, the city then removed every bit of the traffic calming devices. After this fiasco, those council members that recommended it were drummed out of office, rightly so. If what you want is clogged streets and an increased danger to your children walking down Black Avenue then I say put all these traffic calming measures into place. It was a mess over there and it will be a mess here.

Posted by Eric, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jun 9, 2014 at 10:22 am

7 educational facilities, 2 pools, 3 parks and a church on or within a block of Black. Lots of children have to traverse Black everyday. The neighborhood isn't upset with the amount of traffic, it's how the inconsiderate drivers behave. Few people make complete safe stops at Greenwood, few people stop for children waiting to cross at Tanglewood. If people drove the speed limit (or close to it) and stopped at the stop signs the traffic calming (not diverting) program would not be needed. However, there are too many self absorbed drivers which are making the needs for traffic calming necessary. Again, this is a traffic Calming program not a Diversion.

Posted by Clueless in Pleasanton, a resident of Birdland
on Jun 9, 2014 at 11:03 am

Cletus the Petus - right on man! (Comment partially removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff) and start working on traffic flowing through and across town rather than this ridiculous 'traffic calming' crap. Get with the program Ptown and stop listening to the few ancient ones that do not represent the majority.

Posted by Right, a resident of Birdland
on Jun 9, 2014 at 11:04 am

(Post deemed inappropriate by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff)

Posted by registered user, helenayers, a resident of Jensen Tract
on Jun 9, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Correct me if I am wrong, but Black is technically considered a "feeder" street,,,not simply a residential street. Therefore, residents should accept this...and if they want different traffic conditions....MOVE.

Posted by Clueless Cletus in Pleasanton Petus, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jun 9, 2014 at 1:13 pm

(Post deemed inappropriate by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff)

Posted by Off Black Ave., a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 9, 2014 at 4:09 pm

As a parent of a former Walnut Grove student, I cannot tell you how many times my daughter and I were nearly run over by drivers on Black who wouldn't stop. I'm thankful something is being done in an attempt to slow traffic. One pedestrian hit or killed by a careless driver is one too many.

Posted by Jim, a resident of Las Positas
on Jun 9, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Move the whiners to northeast Pleasanton neighborhoods next to the airport, outlet mall, future CarMax plus 580 commuters through Stoneridge Drive. That should quiet them down. Save the $400K and spend that on the schools!

Posted by Map, a resident of Del Prado
on Jun 9, 2014 at 7:08 pm

Must be some big shot neighbor living on black ave with a lot of pull at those city meetings, (Comment partially removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff)First we had vineyard ave, then stoneridge extension and now black ave, I still don't see any relief from the in down traffic nightmare, let's just keep catering to those commuters heaven forbid they should stay on the freeways much easier to cut through our little town, (Comment partially removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff)

Posted by fuzzy wuzzy, a resident of Downtown
on Jun 9, 2014 at 7:33 pm

I feel since I pay $10k in property tax a year in Pleasanton, I have the right to drive on whatever street I want to. quit complaining.

At least you people on black don't have the speeders that leave at the last minute to catch the ACE training in the morning. Oh wait that is probably you-speeding down P-town Avenue and or W. Angela to make that train.

Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2014 at 7:40 pm

Why not just good old speed bumps -- lots of them?

Posted by William Tell, a resident of Birdland
on Jun 9, 2014 at 9:52 pm

(Post removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff as irrelevant to this thread.)

Posted by registered user, Old Guy, a resident of Willow West
on Jun 10, 2014 at 12:05 pm

No easy solution here. Whatever forward movement dictates will continue to have two sides. I hope the city listens closely to those homeowners / taxpayers who are most directly involved. As far as reducing cars on the street I do have one question. Are bikes LEGALLY allowed to be in a lane of traffic? I'm not talking about bike lanes, the actual traffic lane.

Posted by registered user, Rhel, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 10, 2014 at 7:25 pm

Bicycles are considered vehicles, which has its pluses and minuses. A plus is that, for purposes of traveling on the road, a bicycle is a vehicle and therefore is entitled to a lane for travel. A minus is the extra caveat must stay as close to the right of the lane as possible for travel.

The phrase "as possible for travel" means, for bicyclists, avoiding potholes, sand and gravel, and road gouges. Unfortunately for bicyclists, motorists tend to interpret the phrase as "as possible," meaning that bicyclists need to stay to the side of the road at all times.

No, I'm trying to stay out of the "they break the law" traffic violations conflicts.

Posted by registered user, mooseturd, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jun 11, 2014 at 9:47 am

What we really need are some traffic circles. How about at Black and Greenwood to start. That will calm traffic.