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Camino Colegio: Crossing There Like a "Scary Game of Chicken"

Rohnert Park residents are calling for more safety on the busy connector street by city traffic engineers.

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.

Suzanne Giudice April 06, 2012 at 12:10 AM
As a neighbot of Shelley's , I too have wondered why did the city put in a flashing light and not install a crosswalk too. It is a dangerous intersection to cross and hope the vehicles stop. Today I witness rolling stops , and running of that stop sign daily. I never let my kids walk that way because it is dangerous. As far as saying that only the people from Circle drive use that intersection is absurd. That street, Camino Collegio is a thru way to Southwest from E. Cotati and Camino Collegio. Speed bumps on Circle would slow the traffic down considerably. I have yelled at many cars and motorcycles to slow down as they speed by. When is someone going to listen? When someone is seriously injured or killed? The city is trying to blow off our concerns. And yes, a stop sign on Cornell /Circle is warranted!
Guy Thompson April 06, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Barnes is right. The dangerous drivers are your own neighbors. Snap a few pictures of the offenders and start a wall of shame. Go to DMV and get their address and put that on the wall of shame too.
Angela Hart April 06, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Thanks for your comments, readers. This is obviously an important issue. I'm wondering what other streets you think are problematic in terms of safety?
Cam April 10, 2012 at 05:11 AM
I hope folks will truly be open to hearing this, but sometimes I think the crowd in RP doesn't want to hear another viewpoint. Oh, well, here goes-- Safe crossings are NOT just about slowing down car traffic. Has anyone watched the way able-bodied folks slowly shuffle across streets looking down at the cell phone in their hand or youngsters with one plug in their ear while chatting with friends. THIS distracted behavior is also unsafe. Don't get me started on adult bicyclists flying down sidewalks & crosswalks, instead of using the great bicycle paths we have in this city. (I make exceptions for kids on bikes because they usually have learned to ride on the sidewalk from the ADULT in their life). It's dangerous to pedestrians, illegal and unsafe for the bicyclist. The challenge I see is more complex than faulting just drivers. Using the streets is and interaction of many people, and ALL need to pay attention--including pedestrians.
Chris April 16, 2012 at 08:56 PM
You can't only blame the drivers, there are many problems with it all. Can start by making the driving test harder (but California will then see less revenue from people not passing the test=less registrations for cars) so they leave it and therefore have bad drivers. Another is don't assume anything driver or padestrian. Just because your in the crosswalk/road doesn't mean everyone sees you, be aware of your surroundings. And another question is can you get a poll of how many people really want a stop sign/ speed bumps installed in that area. I see alot of time and money wasted because only a few people want it. Things always get done for the complainers when they're usually the minority.
Bob Dickman April 16, 2012 at 11:21 PM
"Blame the victim" is an ugly trend.
Chris April 18, 2012 at 05:21 PM
it's called "everyone needs to pay attention at all times, and stop assuming." Why don't we just ban cars altogether so you'll be super safe and have the government tell us what to do every second of the day. Yay more rules to show us how to live our lives. Also (The city is currently conducting distracted driving and speed stings thoroughout the city, made possible by a $73,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety.) so they got more money to do their normal job?

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