Equity, Enforcement and Infrastructure in Eureka

The Collector

November 17, 2023

Editor’s Note: There won’t be an edition of The Collector next week, but we’ll be back with more transportation news the week after!

Some Gateway Policies – But Not the Whole Plan – Will Be Applied Citywide
Thanks to everyone who spoke up in support of applying bike, pedestrian and transit-friendly Gateway Plan policies throughout Arcata! The City Council heard our message. While they did not apply all Gateway Plan policies citywide, they did direct the Planning Commission to identify at least some of those policies to incorporate into the broader General Plan. Bike and pedestrian policies were brought up multiple times as examples of good policies that should be applied throughout town.

Equity, Enforcement and Infrastructure in Eureka
This week, Eureka middle school students walked to school in the rain on national Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day. The event honors and remembers Ruby Bridges’ own walk to school in 1960, when she integrated an all-white elementary school in the face of violent resistance in Jim Crow-era New Orleans. With their simple trip to school, the students of Eureka remind us once again that walking can be a political act, and that our transportation systems are embedded in a society that still struggles with racism and other deep-seated and systemic inequities.

That reminder is also relevant as we reflect on the announcement this week that the Eureka Police Department received a grant for traffic enforcement from the state Office of Traffic Safety. Any North Coast resident knows that local drivers are often aggressive and dangerous, and it is tempting to think that the way to improve safety is just to enforce the laws more strictly. But research shows that enforcement is not the most effective or equitable way to improve safety over the long term, and grants like this do not require police departments to show any actual safety improvement results. We hope Eureka’s grant will achieve at least a short-term reduction in dangerous driving, but we wish the money would go to effective, equitable, and long-term solutions like safer street design instead.

McKinleyville Subdivision Approved
This week the Humboldt County Planning Commission approved the “Valadao subdivision,” a plan to add 61 housing units hear McKinleyville’s future town center. We are excited about infill development near the town center and transit, but we are disappointed that Commissioners did not add any conditions requiring upgrades to nearby bike and pedestrian infrastructure, which sorely needs improvement.

Yurok Tribe Gets Grant for Transportation and Recreation Projects
Among other things, the grant will fund a park-and-ride and a restroom facility for Yurok transit riders, as well as a walking path to the Klamath River.

Jared Huffman Talks Legislation and Politics on the EcoNews Report
Local environmental leaders including CRTP Executive Director Colin Fiske asked the North Coast Congressman about all sorts of topics. For example, did you know that Huffman signed a letter earlier this year asking the US Department of Transportation to fully fund its active transportation program?

Street Story: A Simple Way to Contribute to the Fight for Safe Streets
Reports on Street Story only take a few minutes, and they give CRTP and local government agencies better information about the need for safety improvements. So don’t forget to make a report every time you experience a near-miss, a crash, or a hazardous location. La versión de Street Story en español está disponible aquí. 

News from Beyond the North Coast

Narrow Lanes Are Safer
Most lanes in our area are 12 feet wide, whether on a highway or a local street. Evidence has been building for years that narrower lanes cause drivers to slow down and therefore increase safety. Now, the most comprehensive study yet of lane widths and crash data shows that 9 and 10-foot lanes are safer than wider ones. Plus, narrowing lanes frees up more road space for bike lanes and sidewalks. So why do public agencies keep building 12 foot lanes?

State Highways Don’t Feel Safe to Walk or Bike On
The conclusion from a statewide survey – including the North Coast – will not strike many readers of The Collector as very surprising.

Even Medium-Sized Cars Can Kill Pedestrians with Bad Front-End Design
We’ve long known that big trucks and SUVs with tall hoods are extremely dangerous for pedestrians. New research shows that even sedans with taller, blunter front ends (an increasingly popular style) are more likely to kill someone than those with a more sloped design.

The Collector is CRTP’s weekly transportation news roundup, published every Friday. We focus on North Coast news, but we also include relevant state, national and international transportation news – plus other items that we just find kind of interesting! To submit items for consideration, email colin@transportationpriorities.org.