Council to Examine Reconfiguring Fifth Street

Perhaps one of the benefits of the city council campaign is that issues arise about safety concerns. Fifth Street has between B and L has been a problem for some time. The council originally tried to mitigate this problem with the light signals on F and G with dedicated left turn signals.

That solution has alleviated some of the problems. On the other hand, it has also according to neighbors forced some of the traffic onto Eighth Street which lacks the flow capacity of Fifth Street. Furthermore, because the lights are not triggered, during off-peak hours, one may be waiting for a minute with no other traffic for the light to change.

The larger problem is with the streets that do not have traffic signals.

First, the traffic moves too fast through the four lane road. Some have likened it to an urban highway. As a result, there are two significant hazards. One is that cars that want to make a left turn off of Fifth block traffic because there are no dedicated turn lanes. The other is that cars turning onto Fifth, particularly making left turns, take unnecessary risks.

A further problem is the lack of bike lanes between B and L, putting bicyclists directly on the street with vehicles.

Overall there was a one week time period where I saw no fewer than four major accidents on Fifth Street. To make matters worse, a vehicle one Saturday turned from Fifth onto C Street by Central Park during Farmer’s Market. The vehicle was traveling at least 30 to 35 mph as it entered onto the much slower trafficked street. The driver then swerved to avoid a pedestrian, hit the gas instead of the break, and ended up crashing into four parked cars. Our car was the fourth, and the only vehicle involved in the accident not totaled. Luckily not a single person was injured, but it was close.

There is also another hazard in close proximity and that is the corner of D and Fourth Street. The problem there is that inexplicably it is a two-way rather than a four-way stop. First of all, that causes confusion for drivers, and you often see people on Fourth Street (who do not have a stop sign) stop and people on D Street (who do have a stop sign) assume that those on Fourth Street have to stop. Further complicating that is the lack of visibility onto Fourth Street due to cars parking diagonally to the curb. That means you have to creep out into traffic in order to see if traffic is coming. All of this could be alleviated with a four way stop, but for some reason the city has been slow to act on that. That intersection is an accident waiting to happen.

The easiest way to alleviate the problems on Fifth Street would be to turn it from a four lane street into a three lane street with dedicated bike lanes on both sides. You then produce a dedicated turn lane for both directions and a “suicide lane” that would allow cars to make a left turn onto Fifth Street and into a center lane before merging into traffic. That is probably the solution I would favor at this point, although it would likely lead to some sort of a log jam entering from L and from B Street.

There are other configurations that would likely be worth looking into, including more four way stops or traffic lights between B and F and G and L. But I think re-striping would be simplest and would still keep the flow going while making turns much safer.

I will not pretend to have all of the answers, so if others have good suggestions post them below.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Categories:

Land Use/Open Space

108 comments

  1. “…a “suicide lane” that would allow cars to make a left turn onto Fifth Street and into a center lane before merging into traffic.”

    Crazy! The situation on Fifth is fine as is, without adding encouragement to kill yourself.
    Encouraging more oblivious bikers on Fifth is only asking for trouble. Leave it alone!

  2. “…a “suicide lane” that would allow cars to make a left turn onto Fifth Street and into a center lane before merging into traffic.”

    Crazy! The situation on Fifth is fine as is, without adding encouragement to kill yourself.
    Encouraging more oblivious bikers on Fifth is only asking for trouble. Leave it alone!

  3. “…a “suicide lane” that would allow cars to make a left turn onto Fifth Street and into a center lane before merging into traffic.”

    Crazy! The situation on Fifth is fine as is, without adding encouragement to kill yourself.
    Encouraging more oblivious bikers on Fifth is only asking for trouble. Leave it alone!

  4. “…a “suicide lane” that would allow cars to make a left turn onto Fifth Street and into a center lane before merging into traffic.”

    Crazy! The situation on Fifth is fine as is, without adding encouragement to kill yourself.
    Encouraging more oblivious bikers on Fifth is only asking for trouble. Leave it alone!

  5. I’m a bicycle-o-maniac but I don’t favor changing 5th street to encourage cycling there. I can’t see how the existing car traffic could get through in two lanes – it’d create snarlups at B and L and bad-tempered driving between.

    The city visited this issue before and it seems clear there’s no way to *widen* 5th street without chopping down a large number of mature trees – unacceptable.

    Instead, better signage could direct cross-town cyclists to 3rd or 8th street, either of which is a much better route. I wouldn’t bike on that stretch of 5th street if you paid me!

  6. I’m a bicycle-o-maniac but I don’t favor changing 5th street to encourage cycling there. I can’t see how the existing car traffic could get through in two lanes – it’d create snarlups at B and L and bad-tempered driving between.

    The city visited this issue before and it seems clear there’s no way to *widen* 5th street without chopping down a large number of mature trees – unacceptable.

    Instead, better signage could direct cross-town cyclists to 3rd or 8th street, either of which is a much better route. I wouldn’t bike on that stretch of 5th street if you paid me!

  7. I’m a bicycle-o-maniac but I don’t favor changing 5th street to encourage cycling there. I can’t see how the existing car traffic could get through in two lanes – it’d create snarlups at B and L and bad-tempered driving between.

    The city visited this issue before and it seems clear there’s no way to *widen* 5th street without chopping down a large number of mature trees – unacceptable.

    Instead, better signage could direct cross-town cyclists to 3rd or 8th street, either of which is a much better route. I wouldn’t bike on that stretch of 5th street if you paid me!

  8. I’m a bicycle-o-maniac but I don’t favor changing 5th street to encourage cycling there. I can’t see how the existing car traffic could get through in two lanes – it’d create snarlups at B and L and bad-tempered driving between.

    The city visited this issue before and it seems clear there’s no way to *widen* 5th street without chopping down a large number of mature trees – unacceptable.

    Instead, better signage could direct cross-town cyclists to 3rd or 8th street, either of which is a much better route. I wouldn’t bike on that stretch of 5th street if you paid me!

  9. “The situation on Fifth is fine as is”

    The situation is actually not fine as is. In fact, it is incredibly dangerous and the city will be looking into making changes.

  10. “The situation on Fifth is fine as is”

    The situation is actually not fine as is. In fact, it is incredibly dangerous and the city will be looking into making changes.

  11. “The situation on Fifth is fine as is”

    The situation is actually not fine as is. In fact, it is incredibly dangerous and the city will be looking into making changes.

  12. “The situation on Fifth is fine as is”

    The situation is actually not fine as is. In fact, it is incredibly dangerous and the city will be looking into making changes.

  13. What about turning one of the sidewalks into a dedicated bike path? Pedestrians could walk on one side of the street, and bicyclists on the other. I agree that the bikes shouldn’t be on that section of the street…way too dangerous.

  14. What about turning one of the sidewalks into a dedicated bike path? Pedestrians could walk on one side of the street, and bicyclists on the other. I agree that the bikes shouldn’t be on that section of the street…way too dangerous.

  15. What about turning one of the sidewalks into a dedicated bike path? Pedestrians could walk on one side of the street, and bicyclists on the other. I agree that the bikes shouldn’t be on that section of the street…way too dangerous.

  16. What about turning one of the sidewalks into a dedicated bike path? Pedestrians could walk on one side of the street, and bicyclists on the other. I agree that the bikes shouldn’t be on that section of the street…way too dangerous.

  17. I agree with the 8:44am anonymous person who talked about taking one of the sidewalks and dedicating it (primarily) to bikes. The situation in those blocks really is ridiculous.

    My personal opinion of the single worst intersection in Davis is second and B streets. A perfect maelstrom of pedestrians, bikes and cars all swerving around each other without any controls…

  18. I agree with the 8:44am anonymous person who talked about taking one of the sidewalks and dedicating it (primarily) to bikes. The situation in those blocks really is ridiculous.

    My personal opinion of the single worst intersection in Davis is second and B streets. A perfect maelstrom of pedestrians, bikes and cars all swerving around each other without any controls…

  19. I agree with the 8:44am anonymous person who talked about taking one of the sidewalks and dedicating it (primarily) to bikes. The situation in those blocks really is ridiculous.

    My personal opinion of the single worst intersection in Davis is second and B streets. A perfect maelstrom of pedestrians, bikes and cars all swerving around each other without any controls…

  20. I agree with the 8:44am anonymous person who talked about taking one of the sidewalks and dedicating it (primarily) to bikes. The situation in those blocks really is ridiculous.

    My personal opinion of the single worst intersection in Davis is second and B streets. A perfect maelstrom of pedestrians, bikes and cars all swerving around each other without any controls…

  21. Fifth St is one of the worst traffic problems in Davis, and has been for years. The new protected left turns have helped a great deal and cut down on the rate of traffic accidents. However, it is still problematic. From my perspective, the two major problems are 1) no bicycle lane; 2) left turns from lettered streets onto Russell that don’t have a traffic light.

    IMHO, bicyclists should not be allowed on Russell Blvd period. I had an incident the other day, where a bicylist refused to use the bike path in front of the University frat houses. The jerk held up traffic during afternoon rush hour with impunity. As we were finally able to get an opening and pass him by moving into the left hand lane, as a passenger I yelled to him to use the designated bike path. He yelled back he didn’t have to, he was allowed to use the street. I answered by noting if he got hit, it was his fault. He was signaling cars to pass him in his lane, when there wasn’t enough room. He may have the legal right to use the road at the moment, but talk about STUPID!!! I see this problem often.

    Avid bicyclists have dedicated paths to use, but choose to use the streets instead, as if they are on a power trip. Yet if a car clips them, they will be the first ones to sue, or complain about car traffic that doesn’t take into account bicyclists. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen bicyclists traveling on the wrong side of the road, not obeying traffic signs, and acting like they own the road. Then they are appalled when one of them gets killed!!! The other day I had a bicyclist (teenager) traveling down the middle of the right lane of Russell Blvd between B St. and F St. COMING DIRECTLY TOWARD ME!!! I had to come to a dead stop, hope no one rear-ended me, and wait for this stupid kid to decide what the heck he was doing.

    Left turns from any of the lettered streets onto Russell is a nightmare, especially at rush hour, if there is not traffic light. Here would be my potential solutions:

    1) Every intersection on downtown Russell Blvd (between A and G Streets) should have a traffic light with protected lefts.
    2) All streets in the downtown area should have four way stops.
    3) Bicyclists should have to use bike paths when available.
    4) Bicyclists should not be allowed on any of Russell Blvd period. Let them use the bike paths provided, and take a detour route between A and G Streets. Keeping bikes off the downtown stretch of Russell would help the traffic pattern.

    Another rather radical notion is having Russell one way in one direction, and Covell one way in the other direction. I’m not sure if that wouldn’t cause more problems than help, but it is what a lot of cities do to calm traffic problems. When football season starts, it may be an idea whose time is coming. Not sure about this one.

    I also think it was very sad that buildings were allowed to construct so close to the street, instead of having setbacks to allow for Russell to be widened. But essentially that door has been closed. Another example of poor planning. No question, Russell is a mess, and is only going to get worse. If lights are at every intersection downtown on Russell, if they are timed right, perhaps it will improve the flow of traffic.

  22. Fifth St is one of the worst traffic problems in Davis, and has been for years. The new protected left turns have helped a great deal and cut down on the rate of traffic accidents. However, it is still problematic. From my perspective, the two major problems are 1) no bicycle lane; 2) left turns from lettered streets onto Russell that don’t have a traffic light.

    IMHO, bicyclists should not be allowed on Russell Blvd period. I had an incident the other day, where a bicylist refused to use the bike path in front of the University frat houses. The jerk held up traffic during afternoon rush hour with impunity. As we were finally able to get an opening and pass him by moving into the left hand lane, as a passenger I yelled to him to use the designated bike path. He yelled back he didn’t have to, he was allowed to use the street. I answered by noting if he got hit, it was his fault. He was signaling cars to pass him in his lane, when there wasn’t enough room. He may have the legal right to use the road at the moment, but talk about STUPID!!! I see this problem often.

    Avid bicyclists have dedicated paths to use, but choose to use the streets instead, as if they are on a power trip. Yet if a car clips them, they will be the first ones to sue, or complain about car traffic that doesn’t take into account bicyclists. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen bicyclists traveling on the wrong side of the road, not obeying traffic signs, and acting like they own the road. Then they are appalled when one of them gets killed!!! The other day I had a bicyclist (teenager) traveling down the middle of the right lane of Russell Blvd between B St. and F St. COMING DIRECTLY TOWARD ME!!! I had to come to a dead stop, hope no one rear-ended me, and wait for this stupid kid to decide what the heck he was doing.

    Left turns from any of the lettered streets onto Russell is a nightmare, especially at rush hour, if there is not traffic light. Here would be my potential solutions:

    1) Every intersection on downtown Russell Blvd (between A and G Streets) should have a traffic light with protected lefts.
    2) All streets in the downtown area should have four way stops.
    3) Bicyclists should have to use bike paths when available.
    4) Bicyclists should not be allowed on any of Russell Blvd period. Let them use the bike paths provided, and take a detour route between A and G Streets. Keeping bikes off the downtown stretch of Russell would help the traffic pattern.

    Another rather radical notion is having Russell one way in one direction, and Covell one way in the other direction. I’m not sure if that wouldn’t cause more problems than help, but it is what a lot of cities do to calm traffic problems. When football season starts, it may be an idea whose time is coming. Not sure about this one.

    I also think it was very sad that buildings were allowed to construct so close to the street, instead of having setbacks to allow for Russell to be widened. But essentially that door has been closed. Another example of poor planning. No question, Russell is a mess, and is only going to get worse. If lights are at every intersection downtown on Russell, if they are timed right, perhaps it will improve the flow of traffic.

  23. Fifth St is one of the worst traffic problems in Davis, and has been for years. The new protected left turns have helped a great deal and cut down on the rate of traffic accidents. However, it is still problematic. From my perspective, the two major problems are 1) no bicycle lane; 2) left turns from lettered streets onto Russell that don’t have a traffic light.

    IMHO, bicyclists should not be allowed on Russell Blvd period. I had an incident the other day, where a bicylist refused to use the bike path in front of the University frat houses. The jerk held up traffic during afternoon rush hour with impunity. As we were finally able to get an opening and pass him by moving into the left hand lane, as a passenger I yelled to him to use the designated bike path. He yelled back he didn’t have to, he was allowed to use the street. I answered by noting if he got hit, it was his fault. He was signaling cars to pass him in his lane, when there wasn’t enough room. He may have the legal right to use the road at the moment, but talk about STUPID!!! I see this problem often.

    Avid bicyclists have dedicated paths to use, but choose to use the streets instead, as if they are on a power trip. Yet if a car clips them, they will be the first ones to sue, or complain about car traffic that doesn’t take into account bicyclists. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen bicyclists traveling on the wrong side of the road, not obeying traffic signs, and acting like they own the road. Then they are appalled when one of them gets killed!!! The other day I had a bicyclist (teenager) traveling down the middle of the right lane of Russell Blvd between B St. and F St. COMING DIRECTLY TOWARD ME!!! I had to come to a dead stop, hope no one rear-ended me, and wait for this stupid kid to decide what the heck he was doing.

    Left turns from any of the lettered streets onto Russell is a nightmare, especially at rush hour, if there is not traffic light. Here would be my potential solutions:

    1) Every intersection on downtown Russell Blvd (between A and G Streets) should have a traffic light with protected lefts.
    2) All streets in the downtown area should have four way stops.
    3) Bicyclists should have to use bike paths when available.
    4) Bicyclists should not be allowed on any of Russell Blvd period. Let them use the bike paths provided, and take a detour route between A and G Streets. Keeping bikes off the downtown stretch of Russell would help the traffic pattern.

    Another rather radical notion is having Russell one way in one direction, and Covell one way in the other direction. I’m not sure if that wouldn’t cause more problems than help, but it is what a lot of cities do to calm traffic problems. When football season starts, it may be an idea whose time is coming. Not sure about this one.

    I also think it was very sad that buildings were allowed to construct so close to the street, instead of having setbacks to allow for Russell to be widened. But essentially that door has been closed. Another example of poor planning. No question, Russell is a mess, and is only going to get worse. If lights are at every intersection downtown on Russell, if they are timed right, perhaps it will improve the flow of traffic.

  24. Fifth St is one of the worst traffic problems in Davis, and has been for years. The new protected left turns have helped a great deal and cut down on the rate of traffic accidents. However, it is still problematic. From my perspective, the two major problems are 1) no bicycle lane; 2) left turns from lettered streets onto Russell that don’t have a traffic light.

    IMHO, bicyclists should not be allowed on Russell Blvd period. I had an incident the other day, where a bicylist refused to use the bike path in front of the University frat houses. The jerk held up traffic during afternoon rush hour with impunity. As we were finally able to get an opening and pass him by moving into the left hand lane, as a passenger I yelled to him to use the designated bike path. He yelled back he didn’t have to, he was allowed to use the street. I answered by noting if he got hit, it was his fault. He was signaling cars to pass him in his lane, when there wasn’t enough room. He may have the legal right to use the road at the moment, but talk about STUPID!!! I see this problem often.

    Avid bicyclists have dedicated paths to use, but choose to use the streets instead, as if they are on a power trip. Yet if a car clips them, they will be the first ones to sue, or complain about car traffic that doesn’t take into account bicyclists. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen bicyclists traveling on the wrong side of the road, not obeying traffic signs, and acting like they own the road. Then they are appalled when one of them gets killed!!! The other day I had a bicyclist (teenager) traveling down the middle of the right lane of Russell Blvd between B St. and F St. COMING DIRECTLY TOWARD ME!!! I had to come to a dead stop, hope no one rear-ended me, and wait for this stupid kid to decide what the heck he was doing.

    Left turns from any of the lettered streets onto Russell is a nightmare, especially at rush hour, if there is not traffic light. Here would be my potential solutions:

    1) Every intersection on downtown Russell Blvd (between A and G Streets) should have a traffic light with protected lefts.
    2) All streets in the downtown area should have four way stops.
    3) Bicyclists should have to use bike paths when available.
    4) Bicyclists should not be allowed on any of Russell Blvd period. Let them use the bike paths provided, and take a detour route between A and G Streets. Keeping bikes off the downtown stretch of Russell would help the traffic pattern.

    Another rather radical notion is having Russell one way in one direction, and Covell one way in the other direction. I’m not sure if that wouldn’t cause more problems than help, but it is what a lot of cities do to calm traffic problems. When football season starts, it may be an idea whose time is coming. Not sure about this one.

    I also think it was very sad that buildings were allowed to construct so close to the street, instead of having setbacks to allow for Russell to be widened. But essentially that door has been closed. Another example of poor planning. No question, Russell is a mess, and is only going to get worse. If lights are at every intersection downtown on Russell, if they are timed right, perhaps it will improve the flow of traffic.