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Group aims to improve hostile Montclair ped environment

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  • 1/30 Oakland Tribune
    Published Sunday, January 30, 2005, in the Oakland Tribune Montclair traffic menaces walkers Group wants more police presence to slow speeders, prevent illegal
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 31, 2005
      Published Sunday, January 30, 2005, in the Oakland Tribune

      Montclair traffic menaces walkers

      Group wants more police presence to slow speeders, prevent illegal
      parking

      By Laura Casey

      OAKLAND -- Jim Dexter, leader of the Montclair Safety and Improvement
      Council's Traffic and Pedestrian Safety team, has one wish for his
      neighborhood.

      "I want to be able to walk," he said Thursday as he led a small tour
      of his neighborhood sidewalks, or what pass for sidewalks.

      He and 10 other people have been trying for a year to find ways to
      improve the lives of Montclair residents by making their neighborhood
      more walkable and less of a pedestrian nightmare.

      They constantly see cars parked illegally, blocking walkways. They
      see speeding cars on Moraga Avenue and Thornhill Drive.

      According to his team's year-long study, most people want to walk
      around Montclair, which boasts an upscale shopping district and an
      always-full recreation center.

      Yet, more than half of the 100 or so Montclair residents his group
      polled said they drive. The reason: Walking isn't safe.

      A stroll from Dexter's house on Merriewood Drive through Thornhill
      Drive is like negotiating an obstacle course past roaring traffic and
      down sidewalks that end at bushes. At some sections along Thornhill
      Drive, pedestrians have to walk on the street because illegally parked
      cars block the gravel path.

      Dexter has tried to get police to ticket cars parked illegally, with
      no luck.

      And speeders are rarely monitored or punished in the area, he
      contends, calling it a "free zone" for people traveling up to 50 mph
      in zones posted for 25 mph.

      "If you want to speed here, there is nothing stopping you," he said of
      Thornhill Drive.

      Same thing goes for Snake Road, said team member Brian Vejby, who
      wants to see more traffic police presence in the hills.

      "There is just a lot of activity, people shopping, people trying to
      cross streets and so on in Montclair," he said. "I think police
      presence would be helpful."

      Group members have had some success in getting the city to listen to
      their concerns. Oakland Public Works crews recently installed a
      crosswalk island on Mountain Boulevard at Cabot Drive to slow traffic
      and help the children at nearby Montclair Elementary School safely
      cross the street.

      "It has really worked," said Stephanie Windle, whose two sons attend
      the school. "All the parents in the neighborhood are saying it's such
      a great improvement."

      Dexter said he would like to see homeowners agree to a special tax to
      build safe sidewalks and streets, and even bicycle lanes, all around
      Montclair.

      To learn more about the Montclair Safety and Improvement Council's
      Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Team, visit the council at
      <http://www.montclairsic.org>.
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