(photo credit: City of San Carlos)
As a long-time resident of San Carlos, I’m thrilled to see the ongoing success of Laurel Street. The downtown district of San Carlos ranks right up there with our outstanding school district as reasons why people want to live in San Carlos. Needless to say, the continued success of Laurel Street and the successful transformation of the southern stretch of Laurel are key to the fiscal vitality of San Carlos. But that success comes with a price…
“Let’s be careful out there.”
Remember that tag line from the old “Hill Street Blues” TV series? OK, I’m dating myself a bit here.. but sometimes it seems that this slogan is more appropriate for Laurel Street than is “The City of Good Living.” If you’ve tried to navigate Laurel Street during the mid-day, whether it’s in your car or as a pedestrian, you know it can sometimes be a white-knuckle experience. The most common danger points that I see on a daily basis are:
- Olive and Cherry Street stop signs. Both Olive and Cherry Streets intersect Laurel in the most popular section of downtown San Carlos, so you can always expect lots of traffic at these intersections. But for some reason, many drivers on Olive and Cherry seem to treat these intersections as 4-way stop signs, which they’re not. This leads to near-collisions almost on a daily basis, as drivers on both streets mistakenly assume they have the right-of-way. I almost got tagged twice (on the same trip) at both intersections just this week.
- Pedestrian crossing. California’s Vehicle Code mandates that drivers must yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk. This is great in theory, but if you’re a pedestrian in one of the crosswalks, don’t assume that drivers either a) see you, or b) are going to stop for you. With all the traffic, and parking and hunting for shops, there are lots of things that can distract drivers on Laurel — so if you’re in a crosswalk, make sure your head is on a swivel.
- U-turns. Murphy’s Law of Laurel Street states that the only available parking spots will be on the other side of the street. (I swear this is true.) So it’s tempting to flip a U-turn across the double-yellow to grab that elusive parking spot. It’s another danger point, and it also tends to enrage drivers coming the other way, since the U-turn often becomes a 16-point Y-turn that backs up traffic the other way. (What? Road rage in San Carlos?)
What’s your take?
Am I off base here, or are you seeing the same thing? What about other issues with Laurel traffic? Feel free to chime in below with a comment….
(The Friday Off-Ramp series is just an occasional editorial about stuff that happens in San Carlos.)
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