Local residents in C Secion have ignited a community awareness campaign in their neighborhood, aimed beefing up traffic safety and getting drivers to be aware of pedestrians, mainly on Camino Colegio — a main artery that connects other busy commuter streets such as East Cotati Avenue and Southwest Boulevard.
One resident, Shelly Agerter, recently brought the problem to city traffic engineers. The longtime resident is asking for the city's help in making the street safer.
"I asked if we could have speed bumps installed to slow down traffic," Agerter wrote in a letter that she passed around in her community and sent to the city. "I asked if we could put a stop sign at the Circle/Cornell intersection; I asked if we could have “Slow – Children At Play” signs installed."
The city responded. As another longtime citizen, Katie Weber, points out, a new stop sign has been installed on Camino Colegio, with a flashing red light. But the intersection — at Casa Way — lacks a crosswalk.
Agerter likened crossing there, as a pedestrian, to a "scary game of chicken."
City engineer Patrick Barnes responded to Agerter, acknowledging the community's concerns about a procession of speeding on the throughfare — mainly near the intersection of Camino Colegio and Circle Drive.
"As you likely realize, the vehicles travelling on Circle Drive are largely the vehicles of persons who live in that neighborhood," Barnes wrote. "Raising awareness so that residents obey the speed limit is probably the most important thing we can do."
Barnes said Agerter's message was forwarded to the police chief, Brian Masterson. He said, that "along with awareness, enforcement is the most important tool in local road speed control."
But Barnes said installing stop signs and other traffic-calming devices could also pose more of a risk to drivers and pedestrians, becasue if signs are installed where they're not "natural," people will speed through them anyway.
"Traffic control devices should only be considered after citizen awareness and enforcement," he wrote. "That is why addressing this issue with your fellow residents is so important."
Agerter's response was in line with many community concerns. What? Huh?
"Thanks for your letter," she responded. "I appreciate your attention to our serious situation. I agree with you ... that community awareness is essential but I still feel there is more than needs to be done. Being honest and with all due respect, I feel the responses I received were pretty much saying that you’re not going to do anything and for us to get together as a community."
Agerter says she's noticed more police presence, but insists that the city needs to step up to make the streets safer. ()
Katie Weber says the problem persists throughout the Rohnert Park — the city needs safer intersections — ones that are lit, with signage; as well as an increase in awareness and police presence.
"I still see people on cell phones and texting," Weber said. "No significant traffic changes were made to slow the drivers down."
Meanhwhile, Agerter says the community has done their part, and she's asking for the city's help for one main street.
"We’ve talked to many of my neighbors and we all agree that something needs to be done," she wrote in response to the traffic department's letter. "We, our community, know to go slow — we’ve lost pets due to cars driving too fast, we see the violators every day at every hour, we watch out for our kids and pets."
She added, "we know that one misstep — not even running into the street, but something as innocent as a kid falling off their bike — could result in a fatality because the cars are going just too fast. Our community gets it. And yet, the problem persists. Stepping up patrol on our street is great (we've all noticed a lot more patrol cars in our neighborhood already) but I feel there are other, more cost effective ways, to thwart the traffic issues we have."
Editor's note: Find letters from Artger and the city attached at the right as PDFs.