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Crash Causes Focus on Glorietta Traffic Safety

One-car accident Monday has neighbors talking about speeding on Glorietta Boulevard, including a 15-mph zone during school hours for Glorietta Elementary School.

An eye-opening, one-car accident that left a Toyota on its side has gotten neighbors talking about traffic safety and ways to curb travelers making time on residential Glorietta Boulevard in Orinda.

On Monday, a motorist was uninjured other than blacking out and not remembering how his car came to rest on its side in a bush, alongside a hydrant at Glorietta and Parkway Court, near Glorietta Elementary School. (More about the accident below in the story.)

In recent months in the area, Orinda police have put a speed trailer, flashing electronic readouts on vehicle speeds.

"I've had so many people say that has really helped them realize how fast they are going and slow down (it has helped me too)," wrote resident Wendy Bond in an email. "I'd like to see more enforcement of the speed limit (it's very rare to see any ticketing) and some sort of walkway using curbs or a physical barrier to make it safer for pedestrians and bicyclists."

Neighbor Kris Foss wrote in an email: "Lots of kids walk and bike on this road (including mine) and that, combined with the traffic and lack of some sort of curb or barrier, has always been a source of anxiety to me! A curb or fence clearly wouldn't restrain a car in an accident such as this but I believe that a physical barrier would help drivers be more aware and cautious of pedestrians and bikers when driving on this road."

Monday's crash

In Monday's accident, the Toyota Corolla apparently caught its right wheel in a deep gutter, upending the car, said Diane Eames, who heard the crash and ran outside immediately. The driver crawled out through the back window, which was knocked out in the crash, said Eames. The paramedics checked the man but he did not leave in the ambulance, she said. It was hard to talk with the man, who spoke Farsi, Eames said.

"This could have been a much worse scenario given the kids were let out of school about 10 minutes prior and walking in front of my house," wrote Eames in an email. "My kids had just come in from playing in the front yard."

The driver spoke broken English, said Orinda Police Sgt. Mohammad Djajakusuma, and was able to communicate to officers that he had no recollection of how he went off the boulevard.

The speed limit is 15 mph during posted school hours within a couple of hundred feet of the school, and otherwise 25 mph.

The Orinda City Council on Oct. 4, 2011, considered raising the speed limit
from 25 to 30 mph in the area, which (some say paradoxically) would allow the police to do radar enforcement, reported City Engineer Janice Carey. At the lower speed limit, the discrepancy between a 25 mph maximum and a traffic survey's results of the 85th percentile having motorists going 36 or 37 mph would amount to entrapment legally because the speeds motorists are customarily driving are so far above the posted limit, Djajakusuma said. That's why police have used the speed trailer to alert motorists.
 
In a long council discussion Oct. 4, 2011, the council discussed results of a traffic survey and enforcement limitations. In the school zone, Police Chief Jeff Jennings reported, there were three accident reports in 2011 and seven in 2010. The council did not raise the speed limit at that time.

"Subsequently, after effective community outreach and education to slow the neighborhood traffic, another Engineering and Traffic Survey was conducted along the same segment of Glorietta Boulevard in May 2012," wrote Carey in an email. "The results of the study validated a 25 mph. speed limit on Glorietta Boulevard between Rheem Boulevard and the Lafayette city limit, except within the school zone where it is 15 mph. The study allows for radar enforcement by the Police Department. This Engineering and Traffic Survey remains valid for a five year period."

The discrepancy remains to curb use of radar enforcement on Glorietta between Rheem and Moraga Way, Djajakusuma said, but the enforcement is allowed on Glorietta from Rheem to the Lafayette city line, which includes the stretch by Glorietta Elementary School.

Susan November 30, 2012 at 02:24 AM
I drive by this area frequently....what is amazing to me is the kids and parents that cross Glorietta to get to the school in the middle of the road instead of walking 10-20 yards to the crosswalk. Not only are they setting bad examples by teaching their children to "jay walk" it is just a matter of time before there is an accident.
Chris Nicholson November 30, 2012 at 07:15 AM
25mph is a ridiculously low speed limit for that street (apart from right before/after school), plus a blackout crash should not cause a focus on anything other than perhaps restrictions on drivers with medical conditions. Why is there a conspiracy to impose low speed limits? Peolpe who buy homes on connector streets know what they were signing up for. The street is designed as a through route for the whole area.
Marty November 30, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Wait, WHAT? I don't get this. Please explain. "At the lower speed limit, the discrepancy between a 25 mph maximum and a traffic survey's results of the 85th percentile having motorists going 36 or 37 mph would amount to entrapment legally because the speeds motorists are customarily driving are so far above the posted limit, Djajakusuma said."
Lance Howland (Editor) November 30, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Marty: This is what the police explained to me. If the difference between the 85th percentile speed and the speed limit is 11 or 12 mph, as it is in this case, then legal precedent in California is that motorists could get out of speeding tickets because it amounts to entrapment -- I guess the argument would be an artificially low speed limit. If you then raised the limit to 30 mph, then the difference would be smaller (6 or 7 mph) and speeding tickets would be legally upheld. Hope that helps. -- Lance Howland, editor, Lamorinda Patch
Marty November 30, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Thanks Lance. I never knew. Guess it's kind of like setting precedent (or whatever the legal term is) by letting people cut through your yard to get where they are going. Can't stop it once you've let it go on for some time?
Jason Schmidt November 30, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Perhaps the city should use eminent domain to take 15 feet of property from each side of Glorietta Boulevard. Then sidewalks and bike paths could be created on each side. It would then be much closer to the true definition of a "boulevard" as well.
Bailey Lee November 30, 2012 at 05:22 PM
You probably don't live on Glorietta, do you? Since this SEIZURE of private property wouldn't affect you, then maybe you would be in favor of ponying up the money for this project yourself. So easy to give/take away other people's property and money these days.
Bailey Lee November 30, 2012 at 05:22 PM
But if you do, then I applaud your selflessness.
TMoraga November 30, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Any residential street yes Glorietta too - is 25mph and should be due to homes being right on the street with no sidewalks. We have the same issue on my street which actually dead ends! Neighbors speed through like the rest of us don't know who they are! Can you say Dumb ASS!!!! We had a little boy hit by a car this summer right infront of my house riding to school. Two cars speeding opposite directions he had no place to go. ZERO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Reason for that to happen given its a FREAKING residential street if I step out into the street and tell a driver to stop they need to STOP!!!!!!!!!!! Perhaps a child's ball just got kicked into the street and the kid is running out to get it! Even with a kid down in the street and two stopped cars and 5 adults in the street attending to the child - I had two cars swerve through without slowing down and one person gave us the bird!!!!!!!!! She lives right around the corner we all know who she is!!! DUMB ASS!!!!!!!!!!!! The lack of respect for your fellow neighbors and kids even your own given said second speeding car happened to be the mother of the child who was hit!!! Like I said DUMB ASSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!! SLOW DOWN!!!!!!
Nice and Rough November 30, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Raise the speed limit. Issue the tickets. Move on. Easy Peasy.
Chris Nicholson November 30, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Tmoraga: By your definition, Moraga Way is a residential street and should be 25MPH. Glorietta is officially designated as a "Minor Arterial,' not a residential street. If I lived on Glorietta, I would be arguing for a lower speed limit, etc. (maybe a series of speed bumps and chicanes so my kids could play in the street). This would be especially if the price I paid for my home reflected a discount because it is on a ARTERIAL road and NOT a residential road....
Chris Nicholson November 30, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Not so easy. You can't just drop the speed limit for the purpose of slowing people down and/or using radar and/or issuing more tickets. The policy purpose of speeding tickets is NOT some Orwellian self-justification of punishing people who go faster than the government sign says. The purpose is to deter/punish people from driving at unreasonable/dangerous speeds. This speed is determined by an engineering evaluation of the road and observation of actual speeds of actual drivers on the actual road. If 85% of people drive faster than 25MPH, you generally can't set the limit to 25MPH. Here's where the conspiracy comes in. The radar speed indicator and the intense efforts to temporarily reduce ACTUAL speeds is to provide a "gamed" basis for keeping the official limit well below the objectively reasonable speed.
Jason Schmidt November 30, 2012 at 06:39 PM
The problem is basically one of two very understandable viewpoints: Glorietta residents who wish the street could be more like a locals-only cul-de-sac, and drivers faced with the fact that Glorietta Boulevard is one of only three major arteries into and out of Moraga, a city of 16,000 people. It does seem that if everyone is going 35 in a 25, but essentially can't be cited, that allowing the speed limit to go to 30 with strict enforcement so that those going 35 can be ticketed is a logical solution. Would the residents give up an ignored de jure 25 to get a de facto 30? How much faster than 25 mph is 30 mph? I don't think it is the difference between strolling and the Indy 500. And thanks for the offer, Bailey, but unfortunately I don't have the resources to fund any improvements along the boulevard. But with so many Moraga residents driving it, perhaps Moraga can kick in for the funding? Maybe they can use some of that money they are saving by not funding their fair share of MOFD ;).
Chris Nicholson November 30, 2012 at 06:52 PM
@Jason: Your framework would be sensible if this "balancing" were being done before the neighborhood and road were built. Now, however, I think we need to add weight to the "community" side of the ledger and subtract weight from the residents who incorporated (or should have) the reality of living on an arterial into their purchase price, evaluation of suitability for young children, etc. To complain now feels like a re-trade. The reality is that most people don't pay close attention to local speed limits and drive at what "feels" safe/reasonable to them (and a small minority will drive as recklessly as they always do). Apart from strict and continuous enforcement, those driving 35mph won't slow to 30mph if the signs change. Similarly, those driving 55mph aren't going to slow to 50mph to maintain a fixed delta from the posted limit. That's just not how humans behave. Oddly, I think the status quo of unenforceable 25MPH signs is a decent equilibrium.
theresa November 30, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Actually, the Gloriettta Blvd right of way (R/W) is much wider than the existing street so the City already has the space to do any kind of street improvement without eminent domain proceedings. My guess is that the improvements won't happen because the community generally wants a rural-like character and because it would mean a whole lot of private yard improvements would get knocked down. (The R/W extends almost halfway into my front yard.)
theresa November 30, 2012 at 08:28 PM
I've lived on Glorietta for almost 30 years and have noticed that daytime vehicle speeds along the street have increased during that time and that the majority of the daytime speeders are, what appear to be, mothers. Not trying to pick on anyone, just noting my observations.
Andrew L. November 30, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Is there anything to indicate that the particular accident referred to in the post was caused by speeding?
TMoraga November 30, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Chris a speed limit is the top safe speed posted for the road - it is not the speed you travel if conditions do not support it! Glorietta has houses facing it with short driveways no- sidewalks etc. Residents live on the street. Meaning its a residential street and yes people are out and about walking playing etc in close proximity to the street. As such the conditions would suggest that 25mpg which is the standard residential neighborhood speed limit. As I said regardless of posted speeds you cant fix stupid.... Stupid people will drive too fast for conditions ie kids playing people walking on the shoulder of the road etc which case they deserve to get stoned - publicly outed etc. Even with a speed trailer parked on my street all it does is provide another potential target for the speeders to hit. I've stopped one neighbor who several of us have all noted as speeding by 2 times in the morning - 2 times in the afternoon every day. I stopped her mid street - introduced my self as her neighbor that we hadn't met yet - then confirmed with her that she did live on street bla bla - to her shock that I knew where she lived. Then explained to her that she drives too fast and she needs to slow down. She started to protest that comment when I explained that I had sat on the curb 10 minutes prior watching the speed trailer clock her at 37mph in a a 25mph zone. She shut up and I waved her on. She has since slowed down but still speeds when she doesn't think anyone is looking.
TMoraga November 30, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Same issue on my street. 100% all of them are parents both mothers and fathers racing to and from picking kids up. The kid hit by a car in front of my house this summer was hit by a car going the opposite direction his parent was driving. Both were speeding and we don't have sidewalks neither car slowed for the other and the child was left with no place to be and hit! Zero excuse for that type of driving behavior on a residential street. If I were to stand in the street and try to stop any of these people they would run me down or swerve around me before ever thinking about stopping and why I might be asking them to stop. Perhaps maybe a kid laying in the street having been hit by a car and not wanting them to run him over? Yep after said kit was hit I had one neighbor aim right for me and accelerate then swerve around the child in the street while giving the other adults the bird! Seriously!!!!
Bailey Lee November 30, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Great idea about MOFD, Jason!
Lance Howland (Editor) December 01, 2012 at 12:18 AM
Andrew: It's hard for me to imagine sustaining the type of damage to the vehicle shown in the photo if you were going 15 mph and hit a trench on the right shoulder of the road. -- Lance Howland, editor, Lamorinda Patch
K Foss December 02, 2012 at 09:54 PM
Yes, I was told by the Orinda Police Department that speeding was involved.
Andrew L. December 05, 2012 at 04:41 PM
I don't doubt speed was involved, but wondered if maybe the man had blacked out or there were some other contributing cause -- the driver's comments don't appear to be that clarifying. "Neighbor Kris Foss wrote in an email: "Lots of kids walk and bike on this road (including mine) and that, combined with the traffic and lack of some sort of curb or barrier, has always been a source of anxiety to me! A curb or fence clearly wouldn't restrain a car in an accident such as this but I believe that a physical barrier would help drivers be more aware and cautious of pedestrians and bikers when driving on this road." I notice that Orinda recently installed curbs on the side of Moraga Way near Miramonte. Perhaps they'll expand that to your street.

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