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Letters to the Editor

Thursday March 08, 2001

New traffic plan needed in new General Plan 



I am writing you in regards to the City of Berkeley’s misguided attitude towards an ever-worsening traffic situation. The current system, a series of high-traffic collector streets, coupled with traffic “calming” devises to reduce traffic on all other streets is flawed and outdated.  

This system erroneously assumes that by concentrating traffic onto a few select corridors, we will benefit by freeing up all other streets as residential havens of calmness.  

This is an unfair and highly biased strategy. As a result of the current system, residents of collector streets are suffering the disproportionate burden of excess traffic flow on their streets, while the rest of us bask in a utopia of “calmness.”  

The negative effects on those residents of collector streets are manifold. Physical detriments caused by excess noise and air pollution are very real, not to mention economic loss endure by collector street residents, as a result of diminishing property values due to heavy traffic volume. I recently attended a public hearing held by the planning commission, and was dismayed to hear that while public sentiment was firmly against the current system, (three separate speakers raised the issue), the city’s new General Plan only proposes only more of the same. We need to make a change.  

I propose that by eliminating traffic calming devices we can disperse traffic more evenly throughout the city.  

Admittedly, this approach may not solve the problem of heavy traffic flow on collector streets, but it would certainly lessen the impact and provide a sense of fairness for collector street residents.  

At very least collector street residents should be offered some sort of retribution from the city in return for the suffering they endure in the name of overall city betterment.  

As residents of Berkeley, we have inherited a legacy of fair-minded, democratic values. The current system of traffic flow outlined above is out of step with this heritage, and must be addressed. We have too many historical precedents of the “few” suffering at the expense of the “many”, to repeat this mistake.  

As we are all members of a society that benefits from the freedom of movement afforded by the automobile, we must as a group, accept the responsibility of bearing the burden of it’s negative side effects, we must all accept this responsibility. 



Mark Hoffman 

Non-collector street resident, Berkeley