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Pedestrian Safety

Safe 8th Street Oakland Follow-Up

A crash at 8th and Chester, Nov. 2020. Photo: Tim Courtney

Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless noted in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content.

Motorists regularly go 75 mph or more on 8th Street in West Oakland, according to data gathered by a home-made speed camera deployed by the advocates with "Safe 8th Street," a group trying to get the City of Oakland to do something about unchecked reckless driving on their street. That was a key fact in a discussion this afternoon between one of the group's founders, Tim Courtney, Oakland City Councilmember Carroll Fife, who represents the area, and OakDOT officials. "We talked with them about both long-term and short-term traffic calming methods," Courtney told Streetsblog.

And Tuesday afternoon, March 16, a city council meeting will decide on a budget amendment that could fund such projects.

First, to get data to support their cause that an immediate fix is needed, the group decided to build a homemade speed camera to collect data on exactly how bad it's gotten. More from Safe 8th Street's web page:

Between November 19th, 2020 and February 13th, 2021 we conducted a Citizen Traffic Study. To do this, we built the Safe 8th Street Traffic Camera using a Raspberry Pi, PiCam, and an open source project... This data collection served its purpose; we proved there was egregious speeding along 8th Street that contributed to unsafe conditions.

The data showed that on average, roughly half of drivers were speeding, with a significant subset driving more than twice the speed limit.


The lead photo and photo below illustrate the real-world results.

A July 4, 2020 crash. Photo: Tim Courtney
A July 4, 2020 crash. Photo: Tim Courtney
A July 4, 2020 crash in West Oakland. Photo: Tim Courtney

As Streetsblog covered previously, this group has been active for some time now and was formed by neighbors fed up with cars flying down the street. They can't even hide in their own homes from the danger, as the above pictures show. But now with a full dataset in hand, they feel they're in a better position to ask for urgent intervention. And asking they are: first for Jersey barriers-diverters to be installed pronto, to stop through traffic. "In an agenda for an amended city budget are two line items, one is $800,000 for emergency traffic calming and the other is $100,000 for a traffic circle at 8th and Willow," Courtney told Streetsblog.

The traffic circle is key to what Courtney is asking for, although that could take longer to install. Either way, depending on how things go at the City Council tomorrow/Tuesday, March 16 at 1 p.m., a portion of that proposed $800,000 fund, which is for all of Oakland, could be spent on placing some Jersey barriers to make traffic slow down on 8th.

Streetsblog has reached out to OakDOT and Fife for comment. For now, going by Twitter, it seems Fife wants OakDot to do something akin to the speed "cushions" (a type of speed bump) installed to slow traffic on 35th Avenue.

Courtney supports this, but fears it could take a year or more to get speed humps. "We need to solve the problem of dangerous driving now. We can get the permanent upgrades later."

For more details on Tuesday's budget meeting and how to submit your comment, click here.

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