Neighborhood speeding gets under residents’ skin 

Drivers zip past houses on Eighth Avenue at nearly double the 25 mph speed limit, careening through potholes and making residents more than a little nervous.

North Fair Oaks residents are no strangers to residential speeding on Eighth Avenue and nearby residential streets just off of Middlefield Road. County public works crews have already installed traffic circles at a number of intersections, as well as chicanes — a series of S-curves meant to slow down drivers with lead feet — but locals say they aren’t working.

"The chicanes don’t deter people," said Melissa Dubroff, who lives on Eighth Avenue. "To them, it seems like a fun thing to slip through, like a slalom."

Some residents even blamed a traffic circle on 17th Avenue, near Menlo Park, for causing a fatal accident in July 1997 that killed Rick Nelson, of Redwood City, according to news reports.

In recent community workshops, residents told county officials to pay more attention to what has become an endemic problem in the unincorporated Redwood City neighborhood.

"There was a large contingent who say their streets are used as cut-through routes, even though there are speed-control devices on some of the streets," county planner Matt Seubert said. "Beyond that, we don’t know what else they could [put in]."

Speed and traffic are patrolled by the California Highway Patrol and by the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, according to Seubert. Officers who patrol the neighborhood did not return calls for comment.

When it comes to solutions, residents’ opinions vary, according to Laura Caplan, a member of the North Fair Oaks Council.

"Some would like their streets closed or would like traffic calmed ... but if you’ve got a bunch of isolated streets, people are going to complain about that as well," Caplan said. "Some people would like speed bumps, and some feel that the traffic circles are not as effective."

Residential speeding is among a number of neighborhood traffic concerns, according to Dubroff. Another ongoing problem is the lack of crosswalks on busy, high-traffic Middlefield.

Planners have not yet determined what they will do with the information they’re hearing from North Fair Oaks residents, Seubert said.

A final community meeting will take place tonight from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the San Mateo County Human Services Center, 2500 Middlefield Road.

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Beth Winegarner

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