Elizabeth Recharte is an Alameda resident.
About Active Alameda
On Nov. 7 the Alameda Main Library hosted the City of Alameda’s Active Transportation Plan Open House. The well-attended event promised to be one of several held with the aim of acquiring feedback from the community on the state of biking and walking in Alameda.
Multiple tables covered with large maps allowed participants to circle areas of the city they felt needed special attention to become safer and more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists. The audience was invited to add to a wall of suggestions in brightly colored markers. At one table, residents offered thoughts on the current state of biking or walking in Alameda. In one room, residents were asked for three adjectives. However, the same descriptor kept coming back over and over: Dangerous. The community came to agree, walking in Alameda is dangerous.
At the time of the open house, seven children had been reported injured by motorists while walking or biking to school since the start of the 2019-2020 school year.
As an adult pedestrian in Alameda, who walks as a primary form of transportation for both work and leisure purposes, the news of child victims enraged me, but it did not surprise me. Walking in Alameda necessitates an exhausting state of hypervigilance. Why? Motorists are not paying attention to pedestrians.
Multiple times I have started into a crosswalk with the pedestrian-crossing signal lit and had to jump back from cars completely unaware of my existence. It is this lack of awareness on the part of drivers towards bikers and pedestrians that makes Alameda a hazardous place to bike and walk.
I attended the meeting feeling angry — angry that children had been hit, angry at the amount of times I had almost been hit and, most of all, angry that nothing seemed to be getting done about it. I left feeling hopeful.
Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft attended and actively engaged with participants about their experiences. The maps and materials created by Toole Design, the company Alameda is partnering with to reinvasion its transportation infrastructure, were inviting to work with. Concern, commitment and some ideas were shared.
One idea of note came from civil engineer Donya Amiri, an “all-red phase.” Best suited to the most congested areas of town, the “all-red phase” would halt all traffic in all directions. This pause would allow motorists, cyclists and pedestrians time to be more vigilant of one another before the flow of traffic continued.
The Active Transportation Plan will be in development until fall 2020. Care to contribute? The city website is quite clear, the voices of the residents of Alameda are essential in making this an effective process. For more information, keep updated at www.activealameda.org/home.