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Life as a Scot in California

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Posts Tagged ‘Albany’

Skateboards on Solano

Posted by berkeleyscot on April 28, 2011

I walk on Solano Avenue almost everyday, doing my errands and feel fortunate that I can walk to most of the shops I need, but I get nervous on the Avenue when I hear a skateboarder trundling behind me. I usually step into a doorway to let them pass me safely, but I’m more concerned for my own safety than theirs.

Most skateboarders seem skilled, balanced and maneuver easily, but they do expect everyone to get out of their way. That’s not so easy for those of us who have mobility issues and can’t easily step aside for those with whom we share the sidewalk. Bicycles on sidewalks are also an issue, but I’m focusing on skateboards right now.

I am sure that when Solano Avenue was constructed, no one expected it would be used by other than pedestrians.

But, every day, I see pedestrians, joggers, people walking their dogs, mams with prams, people in wheelchairs, people using canes or walking frames. In many places, the sidewalks are too narrow and broken for more than single-file passage. Yet, the skateboarders trundle up and down.

Obviously, they and maybe most of Albany residents don’t know about City Ordinance 9-8.2 Roller Skates, Skateboards and Toy Vehicles.

Anyone can read Albany’s Municipal Code and Charter. It’s available online at http://www.albanyca.org/index.aspx?page=79

Chapter IX deals with Motor Vehicles and Traffic, and 9-8.2, Paragraph-a  says:

No person shall ride upon a skateboard, roller skates, or coaster or propel any such device on the street portion of Marin Avenue, San Pablo Avenue or Solano Avenue east of Adams within the City limits, except when crossing at a crosswalk.

So, it is clear that people ought not to ride skateboards at all on Solano.

Safely riding on a skateboard is addressed in Paragraph-d:

No person shall use a skateboard, coaster, or other similar device at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the street or sidewalk, or in any event at a speed which endangers the safety of any person or property.

I have seen skateboarders coming down the sidewalks of Solano at aggressive speeds, jumping and twisting, with no due regard for anyone’s safety, even their own.

Right-of-way is addressed in Paragraph-e:

Any person (rider) riding a skateboard, coaster or similar device shall at all times accord the right-of-way to any persons on foot. Without limitation of the foregoing, whenever any of the following conditions exist, a rider shall dismount at a safe distance and proceed on foot until such condition ceases to exist, which distance must be equal to or greater than fifteen (15’) from such condition:

1.  When the rider approaches any pedestrian and there is insufficient area for the rider to pass such person safely;

2.  When the rider approaches any person who, due to apparent physical condition, disability, or frailty, may be intimidated by the approach or passage of the rider; or

3.  When approaching two (2) or more persons on foot who are within ten (10’) of each other.

I started to write my thoughts on this because of my own disability (cerebral palsy) and because I am intimidated by skateboarders on the sidewalks of Solano Avenue.  I don’t expect anyone to call the Albany Police every time they encounter an errant skateboarder, but if skateboarders are made aware of these City of Albany codes, we should all be able to share the sidewalks safely.

Margaret A.M. Tong  © April 25, 2011

Posted in Living | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

A Usual Saturday Night in Albany

Posted by berkeleyscot on October 3, 2009

Albany is a quiet town.  Someone recently described it “The place where white folks with kids, live.” I suppose that is mostly true and families are attracted by the local schools, which have a good reputation.

Albany is a ‘walk able’ town. Shops, restaurants, parks and farmers’ markets can be accessed without a car.  For the most part, Albany is considered to be a safe place to live, although it is situated near a freeway ‘corridor’ between well-known high crime and drug dealing areas.

But, we, the residents, only read about the crime and the bad guys in the police report that is published in the local paper.

But, that changed on Saturday night and we witnessed, a police car chase that ended in a neighbour’s drive!

I heard brakes squealing as a car approached the STOP sign at the awkward corner by our house. The road bends to the right, but not in a straight line and the street lighting is insufficient.

I just KNEW a crash would follow and I was already dialing 911 before I heard it.

The driver lost control of the car and skidded into a drive where 2 cars were parked, one behind the other. The force of the impact demolished the first car, pushed it into the car in front, which rammed the locked garden gates and pushed them open.

Police cars blocked the street; their flashing lights making it look like a fun fair.

I wanted to go outside and join my neighbours, in their dressing gowns, but I stayed indoors, peering uselessly through the windows. Trees and bushes obscured my view.

I got up early the next morning to be nosy and learned from neighbours that the chase involved a Berkeley police car. The crash was a long way from Berkeley.

It was obvious that the chase was heading either towards San Pablo Ave or the Freeway.

It was completely daft to conduct a chase in a residential area. Police car chases are daft anyway.

So many times, an innocent person is killed or injured. In fact, when I heard the crash, I thought it was a head –on collision. That would have been a tragedy, but to demolish two innocent cars belonging to innocent people, asleep in Albany, was just plain stupid.

I have no idea if the driver suffered an injury. I heard no ambulance, but only the ‘beep beep beep’ of the tow truck that hauled his car away.

There was no report in the local news or paper.

Why would there have been? No one was injured and nothing happens in Albany, anyway!

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