East End Neighbors Are Fed up with Speeders

Larry Freeman &nbsp&nbsp Parents look on as youngsters dramatize the need for drivers to slow down on Garfield Avenue.

East End Neighbors Are Fed up with Speeders

Alameda residents on Garfield Avenue made a statement on July 27, calling on motorists, city officials and the Alameda Police Department (APD) to take steps to curb speeding drivers and the area’s all-too-frequent stop-sign runners.

Garfield neighbor Frank Filici recently snatched a 6-year-old from the street as the youngster chased a runaway ball that skirted between cars into the street. A speeding driver in a silent electric vehicle drove by, heedless of the young man or his ball. This inspired Filici to ask several neighborhood youngsters to sketch a chalked appeal and body images outlines on the pavement.

One of the children in the photo, Milo Smith, and his mother, Kelley Smith, were nearly struck a week earlier in a nearby crosswalk after the driver of a speeding delivery truck blew through the stop sign at the intersection of Garfield Avenue and Fernside Boulevard, a busy artery on the East End that has lost much of its former traffic enforcement over the years.

“I am especially concerned because Garfield is a thoroughfare for students who bike and walk to Edison School in one direction and Lincoln Middle School in the other,” said Kelley Smith.

In another incident a delivery truck nearly hit two people on the street. The truck driver slammed on the brakes and careened, out of control at Garfield and Fernside. The truck skidded through three crosswalks. It raised up on its two left wheels, nearly toppling over into the center of the intersection. The driver barely missed plowing into the stop sign post and a power pole across the street. He left 40-foot-long, tire marks before speeding away.

A driver, who had stopped at the scene, blew his horn at the truck to no avail. Thankfully the errant truck and its carefree driver did not hit any vehicles, pedestrians or bicyclists. “It someone had been in the wrong place at the wrong time, a serious or fatal injury would have occurred,” one of the witnesses said.

The unmarked truck never stopped and was gone in no time, too late for anyone to get a license plate or identify the driver. Alameda Police Officer Eric McKinley arrived and took a report on scene about 30 minutes after the incident, too late to apprehend the driver who might have been subjected to a reckless driving charge at the officer’s discretion.

While McKinley was taking his report, three more drivers — either oblivious or indifferent — ran the same stop sign even though the uniformed officer stood in plain view on the corner. At one point McKinley called out “Stop sign!” to one driver who looked blankly at him and drove on.

“We’ve grown tired of seeing all the speeders on Garfield where kids often play and ride,” said Wesley Smith, mindful of the two truck incidents and a myriad of others in the vicinity.

Residents on Garfield plan to petition City Hall and Public Works to put speed bumps on Garfield to slow drivers or dissuade them from using the street as a shortcut from High to Fernside. Neighbors also plan to call for other protective measures on Fernside.

They also hope that APD will step up traffic enforcement in the area.