Alameda @ Liberty Park

This discussion has been updated to reflect the Feb 2024 designs from County’s DPW.

Design Safety Goals:

Prioritize pedestrian, bike, and resident safety. That generally means to have the shortest crosswalks, buffered bike lanes that are consistent throughout corridor, avoid unexpected and confusing roadway, and having safe ingress/egress for residents.

Summary of Concerns/Issues:

  • New design has a better position for crosswalk, but crosswalk itself is longer than needed – kids and others should not be in roadway so long
  • Northbound bike lane’s traffic safety buffer is eliminated, right before intersection and right where motorists have to abruptly veer towards the bike lane.
  • Northbound motorist traffic lane is shifted right before the intersection to avoid raised median – safety issue of an abrupt lane shift on a hill with limited visibility and severe light glare.
  • Lanes are unnecessarily wide — not the 10′ recommended by County organizations, safety task force, and C/CAG. (see this 10′ Lane Widths) Restoring 10′ lanes provides needed safety buffer to cyclists and restores lane consistency.
  • Raised median poses access problems for Prospect residents turning north – not enough room to merge safely – reducing both width and length of median would help.

Alameda @ Liberty Park — County Plan as of February 2024

The County Plan (below) has several significant design issues that would create an unsafe segment of Alameda. It ignores the geography of the road that causes line of sight and visibility issues that reduces a motorists ability to see people and obstacles in the road. The plan places obstacles that will impact motorists and cause them to suddenly swerve towards the bike lane and sidewalk.

Community Safety Alternative – Safe, Simple, Consistent

There are several safety advantages by keeping the entire section of Alameda consistent and using a simplified 3 lane configuration. See illustration to note major and minor safety improvements. An important safety addition is the curb bulb out on the west side of the crosswalk that provides additional safety and queueing area for pedestrians, including students and is a positive traffic calming element.

Animated comparison

The animated illustration provides a view that is toggled between the Feb 2024 design and one that has reasonable – straight forward safety improvements. Notice that the County contractors have put the center median in the NB travel path, requiring an abrupt lane shift to the right to avoid motorists from hitting the median. This lane shift forces traffic towards the bike lane and the sidewalk. This is on the crest of the hill and motorists will not expect a median in the middle of their expected lane.

The community’s safety alternative has a simple alignment of all lanes, consistent lane widths, and shorter crosswalk. It removes any obstruction of the traffic travel path, something that the new county design inserts. The community alternative additionally has a much calmer roadway, one that motorists would expect. The notes in the graphics highlight the important points.

The animated illustration is between the Feb 2024 DPW design and Community Safety Alternative — It switches back and forth so that differences between the two are more easily seen.

Why is Liberty Park Intersection Challenging?

From a safety engineering perspective, the intersection of Alameda and Liberty Park has several challenges:

  • The intersection and crosswalk are on the crest of a hill — this means very limited visibility; for example, crosswalk is not visible until a driver is just seconds from crossing it.
  • The intersection has significant issues with sunlight and shadows
  • The rising and setting sun is inline with the road creating a blinding glare both directions
  • Night visibility is low – rain causes additional glare and obscures the roadway
  • The Alameda crosswalk being planned at Liberty Park is extra long — exposing pedestrians to the roadway for a much longer time than is needed
  • This intersection is used by families and school kids that attend several nearby schools

Visibility Problems to the Max!

Consider the sightline and visibility issues: (See Visibility Issues at Liberty Park) When obstacles are placed in the travel lane, they are invisible from any distance other than just at the hill crest. This leaves motorists just a few seconds to veer towards the sidewalk and bike lane to avoid hitting the extended median.

A few views of the approach to the Liberty Park crosswalk. top-left to bot-rt: Southbound just past Avy (evening); Southbound morning from Avy; Southbound morning from Avy; Southbound morning from Avy; Northbound at night, just past Sharon; Northbound at evening, just past Sharon; Note, crosswalk can not be seen until just a few seconds before crossing it.

From a safety perspective, the following are being ignored by the County Plan for this location:

  • Motorists expect a consistent road configuration. Engineers generally avoid, road swerves, traffic lane configuration changes, and obstacles in line with traffic paths, etc. In this case, County fails all of these guidelines, effectively hiding these lane modifications and obstacles on the crest of the hill. Drivers traveling in this section may not be aware and may suddenly react to the unusual configuration to avoid striking the median – that puts everyone at risk.
  • Shorter crosswalks – DPW slightly shortened the crosswalk in their Feb 2024 design modification; however, the bulb out used on the east side is minimal and no bulb out exists on the west side, making this crosswalk longer than needed. A bulb out on the east side would not only provide a shorter crosswalk, it would also act as a significant traffic calming element, making the road appear to motorists as significantly narrower, proven to help slow traffic.
  • Pedestrian Safety – Several advantages of parking spaces, are that parking provides a safety buffer between people and the traffic lanes. Additionally, parking allocation narrows the perceived width of the roadway to encourage calmer – slower driving speeds. Our corridor has a terrible and continued history of cars crashing past sidewalk and into properties, with accidents right at/around this Liberty Park intersection– let’s not ignore the need to have the extra safety buffer a parking area provides. This is not an argument for parking, so if even parking is removed, we should keep that space as a greenery space to preserve the buffer distance between pedestrians from vehicles. Note: A high volume of kids use this area.
  • Road way consistency and motorist awareness — The plan implements a design that fails to incorporate the geography of the road, the crest of the hill, the sunlight blinding glare, and the other lighting issues of brightness and shadows. Raised medians in the traffic path, lane shifts, longer crosswalk all on a ‘blind crest’ of the hill creates a high risk to all users. Motorists have just seconds of visibility before they have to react. These NB motorists must abruptly react and veer towards the bike lane and sidewalk to avoid hitting the raised median, but cyclists and pedestrians at great risk.
  • Residential access safety
    • For Prospect residents: County Plan increases danger of turn left on to Alameda due to swerving traffic, limited access to center turn/merge lane, and area sightline issues.
    • Alameda Residents: At least one driveway is blocked and would require a U-Turn or similar to access.
  • Cyclists safety diminished and are exposed to high risk issues:
    • Unexpected swerving traffic towards cyclists
    • The bike safety buffer is removed in this new Feb 2024 configuration
    • Issues with line of sight and glare issues add to driver distractions at this location seemed to be ignored
    • Having a roadway with random lane widths and offsets, including random bike lane configurations all on this 300′ hill crest creates confusion and distractions that raise risk.

Your feedback, concerns, and questions welcome!!

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Updated March 2024 –

2 thoughts on “Alameda @ Liberty Park”
  1. It seems that County is ignoring the hill that obscures the location of Liberty Park. People that live here know the lighting and glare issues. We also know the speed issues along this roadway. This plan especially ought to take into consideration Prospect St residents as it seems to make it less safe for them to turn from or into their street: They have had safety concerns for years and now it seems the new plan will only add risks for them.
    It appears that making this section of Alameda the same as what the rest of the Alameda will be, has many safety advantages and will address the County plan’s problem of veering traffic suddenly towards the sidewalk and bike lane.
    Thanks for the information and making it available.

  2. I have looked at the County plan and the Safe4Us plan. As a car driver and as a bicyclist I like the Safe4Us plan and I don’t like County plan. I don’t like raised areas, the double left turn lane or the NB narrowing after Prospect. As a car driver this is complicated and confusing. As a bicyclist I don’t want the car drivers around me to be confused. The complexity makes it more likely that cars will come into the bike lanes by mistake. I expect that the safety aspects of the County plan for slowing traffic will be more than undone by the unsafe actions drivers who are confused. The Safe4Us plan seems simple, straightforward and I expect it is less expensive. Why make things more complicated?

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