Frederick Street could use some re-engineering for safety’s sake, reader says

Dear Street Smarts, Q: You asked for ideas and this has been on my mind for a long time: Frederick Street, which was originally designed as a quiet residential street many years ago, has become a major thorough-fare. It now houses two large churches, a city park and a preschool, a retirement community and many condo projects and rental projects, as well as lots of afternoon commute traffic from Broadway to Soquel Avenue. This rather narrow street, with parking permitted on both sides, makes for a very scary and dangerous drive with all the traffic on a narrow street. I've lived here for 25 years so here are my ideas for less congestion and more safety:
  1. Frederick Street needs a center white line painted from Soquel Avenue to the end of the street, so that cars can more easily keep on their side of the two-way traffic, which is so narrow with parking on both sides.
  2. Parking should be only permitted on one side of the street so there would be more room for moving cars and bikes. A marked bike path could be on the no-parking side of the street, accommodating bike commuters and neighborhood families to ride their recreational bikes safely.
  3. There should be absolutely no parking on the east side of Frederick Street from Soquel Avenue and extending about 300 feet down the street, so that cars going north have a nice right turn lane. A marked right turn lane should be painted in this area, so that there is ample room for cars turning left to have a lane open. From 3-6 p.m., cars get backed up from Broadway to Soquel, trying to turn right. Some of these commute drivers don't bear to the right and clog up both car lanes on Broadway. It's a nightmare all the time.
  4. Frederick Street Park is a very busy area, with no parking lot and lots of cars going by. Immediately south of the park is a town house complex where the street narrows in two areas and some old trees were allowed to remain. To do this, the road narrows to go around these trees. If there are cars parked on both sides of the road and cars going each way meet at the same time there, there is no way to have enough clearance for both cars. So someone must completely stop to let the other car through. After one of our big wind storms two years ago, one of these big trees blew down. Can't we straighten the road where the tree is gone so drivers have more room to both park and drive in that congested area safely? I live at the end of the street and when it gets busy, I have to sometimes come to a complete stop where it narrows since it's too narrow for cars to go both ways at the same time. This is very unsafe.
  5. The cul-de-sac of Frederick Street wasn't designed properly and we have had a lot of possible accidents at the blind turn-around. Cars coming out of the Heritage Landing complex, if heading straight out on Frederick could hit on-coming cars coming south. If you are a seasoned resident of Heritage Landing, you know to swerve to the right as you enter Frederick Street to allow for this street design problem. But not everyone using the street is a knowing resident. We somehow need to mark the cul-de-sac so that drivers know what to do there.
Frederick Street is a very busy street and has multiple problems with it's current design. Safety is a big problem here and with some inexpensive painted lines and a few adjustments, it could be much safer. Shan Carlson, Santa Cruz A: I forwarded your question to Chris Schneiter, assistant director of the city's public works department. Below is his answer, uncut: “About ten years ago, the city initiated a Seabright area traffic calming plan based on input from residents. Most of the issues you bring up for Frederick Street were not part of the adopted plan. There is a clear distinction of the street type for Frederick north and south of Broadway. North is an arterial, south is a collector and residential. “I’ve numbered my responses based on the points in your email:
  1. I don’t think that a center line will make any difference on Frederick Street south of Broadway. Adequate striping exists on the section north of Broadway, though it may need to be freshened up. I will refer this to our traffic maintenance staff.
  2. One side of the street parking removal is not something the department will consider, other than the east side of the street near Soquel to improve that intersection's operations. The tightness of the southern section of street with parking has a tendency to reduce traffic speeds, which is the primary compliant we get about Frederick Street. In addition, the many uses you note on Frederick Street, all need parking. Bike lanes on the northern section is a good idea. We will take the opportunity to nominally widen the street (by removing landscape strips) as development or funding allows.
  3. This is a peak hour issue. See No.2 above.
  4. I’m not aware of funding to widen the street at this location. Again, the narrowness does slow traffic, which is the neighborhood's main concern. There is no evidence of collisions related to this condition.
  5. Same as No. 4, but we’ll take a closer look at the center line issue and no parking (mentioned in a second email).
“Also, I wanted to let you know that the new development next to the park was required to pay $15,000 for traffic calming. We are thinking about what part of the Seabright neighborhood traffic calming plan for Frederick Street will be implemented. It’s possible that a raised crosswalk at the park and a road hump further up the street will be installed in the next year.”
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One Response to Frederick Street could use some re-engineering for safety’s sake, reader says

  1. Eli Mowbray says:

    As a fellow resident of the Frederick St area, I would like to add a few comments:
    1. Centerline markings have been shown to increase traffic speeds, thus I do not agree that one should be installed south of Broadway.
    2. We generally bike on Darwin, one block west of Frederick, as it is safer with less traffic. It also has a nice cut-through to Gault at the library and a continuous sidewalk.
    3. I agree that the existing narrow “choke” points should remain as they tend to slow traffic near the park.
    4. I also agree that improvements should be made to the right turn lane at Soquel Ave: it can be lengthened by removing a few parking spaces and rearranging the lanes; it would also benefit enormously if the City installs a right-turn green arrow at the traffic signal.
    5. Median islands on the arterial portion north of Broadway should be considered, perhaps at Gault, Hanover and mid-block at the Catholic Church. These could be installed relatively on the cheap, would tend to slow vehicle speeds and provide for safer pedestrian crossings.

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