Mini Changes, Major Fun: Mini-Roundabouts Coming Soon to Shafter

Thursday, November 16, 2017

When a street gets repaved, it's a magical time. The stripes are bright, the crosswalks are crisp, and the street is so, so smooth.

At the Oakland Depar tment of Transportation, or OakDOT, we're excited about delivering more repaved streets with funding from the recently-passed Measure KK, which will provide $350 million for infrastructure repairs over the next ten years.

As we ramp up our capacity to deliver these needed state-of-good-repair fixes, we also think it's the right time to make sure our streets are as safe and inviting as they can be for people walking, biking, and driving.

That's why we've been looking closely at Shafter Avenue between Forest and 51st Streets. This segment is scheduled for repaving next summer, so we're developing our plans now.

We think Shafter is due for a traffic calming upgrade, and we're planning to implement mini-roundabouts at three locations on the street: Cavour, Clifton, and Hudson.

Because of the bicycle route designation, we think Shafter is a great place for miniroundabouts. Mini-roundabouts are raised, circular concrete islands placed in the middle of neighborhood intersections. These safety treatments can make the street safer for everyone by encouraging lower vehicle speeds. Mini-roundabouts can also serve as a mini-garden in the middle of your street, further beautifying the neighborhood.

We got our inspiration from the miniroundabouts in Berkeley and in Seattle, where neighbors work together to add charming and delightful personal touches, such as painted birdhouses. A study by the City of Seattle DOT found that Seattle's mini-roundabouts also compel drivers to slow down when approaching intersections.

We want to be sure we're talking with neighbors wherever we do projects, so we recently sent a survey to residents along Shafter and on intersecting blocks where we're considering the project. We heard back from many of you, and most respondents agreed; planted mini-roundabouts make sense on Shafter. Here's what some neighbors told us:

■ "I love the idea of the planted roundabouts. I have seen them in Berkeley and they look great. Plus, they substantially slow down traffic that otherwise blasts through the stop signs."
■ "You definitely need roundabouts. No one stops at stop signs around here anymore."
■ "Roundabouts seem to me like a happier way to moderate traffic speed, and planted roundabouts would help make the neighborhood more attractive."

We also polled residents about the speed humps, which have been on Shafter for more than a decade, and about whether we should add more. Most of the residents we heard from were unsure about additional speed humps. Many expressed frustrations with current speed humps being too steep and causing loud scraping noises as cars bottomed out passing over them. We're taking this into consideration and will be evaluating whether we can address the angle of the existing speed humps to decrease these types of incidents.

We are happy to hear suggestions from residents concerning the need for safety treatments and a smoother street to make walking, biking, and riding safer and more delightful for everyone.

If you have thoughts about the miniroundabouts, and especially if you and your neighbors would like to adopt the minigardens, see box at right to contact us.

You Can Help With Roundabout Planning

We are still gathering feedback about the project and would love your input. If you haven't taken the survey, check it out at http://bit.ly/2w6So3c.

Feel free to drop us a line. Contact: Sarah Fine, Senior Transportation Planner, at sfine@oaklandnet.com

As always, we encourage everyone to repor t potholes and other infrastructure needs through any of these methods: Call: 510/615-5566 Email: callcenter@oaklandnet.com Mobile app: SeeClickFix

For more information about OakDOT, please visit https://beta. oaklandca.gov/services/transportation Thank You