Grand Chicanery

How ironic is it that the chicanery we are now witnessing on the part of self-interested actors in their effort to reverse the City Council’s recent decision regarding the proposed distortion of Grand Street should actually revolve around the very chicanes they’ve been championing. This term now being used to describe their traffic diverters can’t be found in the staff’s previous reports or elsewhere in any discussions of the proposed zigzagging. And it seems likely that the only reason for adopting this term now is that when push came to shove, and the losers of the debates determined that they might be able to bolster their weak argument if they could find formal support for their self-serving and baseless arguments that their Google search produced references that used the term.

Their “new information” simply shares that some jurisdictions have used chicanes, our newfound vocabulary word, to slow traffic, primarily in commercial areas as Oakland has done along Telegraph Avenue. In addition, they submitted links to a few limited agency reports that, for the most part, do nothing more than mention, without recommendation, the employing of chicanes as one of several methods for slowing traffic. There was little, if any, mention in these agency reports of any demonstrated reductions in the incidence of collisions or injuries, let alone fatalities. The reports focused primarily on speed reduction, not on safety. This would render these reports largely irrelevant to their current pleading, which focuses almost exclusively on safety. Note that I am not arguing against safety as an important issue. I am simply arguing that the “new information” is irrelevant and does nothing to support an argument for reconsidering the council’s Oct. 4 decision.

It appears that the new staff report is nothing more than a rehashing of their earlier reports except for the inclusion of Bike Walk Alameda’s irrelevant “new information” and the use of the term chicanes to suggest that they might be offering a new and possibly less onerous type of traffic diverting barriers to traffic flow.

Now, consider this. Both Union and Paru streets, streets which parallel Grand Street, have much less traffic than Grand, a fact known by virtually everyone familiar with the neighborhood, and certainly known to city staff and the spokespeople for Bike Walk Alameda. And the fact that neither of these ardent advocates for zigzagging on Grand Street failed to offer or suggest the alternative of using these quieter and, arguably safer, streets as preferred routes for crosstown cyclists, it would seem that their arguments, at best, might be taken as examples of disingenuous political chicanery.

— Jay Garfinkle