‘No Right on Red’ rule at Clares needs to go, reader says

Dear Street Smarts, Q: As a Clares Street resident, I'm one of the drivers now suffering from the awful decision to not allow right turns on 41st Avenue from Clares. Now we can't turn right on red lights and, to make matters worse, often the traffic on Clares is at a standstill because of the backed-up cars blocking the way to Highway One. Is there any possibility the decision to prohibit right turns on red lights there will be rescinded? Richard Tennesen, Capitola A: “One of the reasons for the configuration changes at Claire’s and 41st was due to the back-up of traffic from Highway 1 that blocks this particular intersection,” said Chief Rudy Escalante of the Capitola Police Department. “When traffic is backed up going north on 41st, especially when the (middle and right most lanes) are backed up, drivers trying to make a U-turn from southbound 41st are unable to complete the turn. Therefore, all lanes of northbound traffic are blocked.” Adding to the problem, he said, is that drivers making those U-turns often do so at the same time motorists on westbound Clares make a right turn onto 41st during a red light, causing some pretty close calls. What's more, “drivers trying to make a right turn from Claire’s when traffic is backed up on 41st, also try to pull forward or around backed up traffic to fill in open traffic lanes,” Escalante explained. “The awaiting vehicle is now stopped on a slope and also blocks the sidewalk for pedestrians. Pedestrians, and those in wheel chairs, are forced to walk around a vehicle that might be drifting backwards.” For motorists attempting to make a right turn from Clares onto 41st to see oncoming traffic traveling north on 41st, “they have to pull out far enough so their vision is not blocked from traffic that is stopped in the left turn pocket on Claires,” he continued. Clares was reconfigured in late July. In the six weeks that followed, drivers had a grace period to learn the new flow. After that, police officers began writing traffic citations about 33 tickets to date, Escalante said. “Since September 1, there has been one collision – injury – at this intersection, which occurred on September 30th and was not related to the configuration change,” he said. “We will continue to evaluate traffic activity at this intersection.”
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