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Traffic Control 'Long Overdue' as Sonoma Becomes 'More Popular'

City council hears impassioned pleas from residents, including the father of a boy recently hit on a crosswalk.

The father of a boy recently hit by a vehicle on a Sonoma crosswalk was one of many people who weighed in on traffic control at Monday night's city council meeting.

"My son was hit by a driver who didn't stop," he said. "When his friend realized at the last minute the car wasn't going to stop, he put his hand up. The 92-year-old driver said he saw people fighting on the crosswalk. It shows the confusion of his state of mind. An elderly man struck and killed someone a couple of weeks later."

The boy was one of two teens hit by a vehicle while they were crossing Fifth Street West on Oct. 27. One boy received a skull fracture.

This month, an 80-year-old Boyes Hot Springs man was charged with vehicular manslaughter in the death of a man after hitting him on a crosswalk at Fifth Street West and Studley Street.

The viability of elderly drivers was one of the issues raised several times in Monday night's public discussion of how to prevent a further increase in the growing number of accidents involving pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles in Sonoma. West Napa Street, 5th Street West, Andrieux and Studley streets received particular attention. First Street East, near the Mission, also got a mention.

"There are a tremendous amount of near misses," a state parks spokesman said of First Street East. "It's only a matter of time before someone gets hit. Sometimes drivers aren't looking. They either don't stop or they do 'California stops,'" he said.

A Sonoma Police spokesman said, "We can enforce unsafe speed, cell phone use and those type of offenses, but things like daydreaming are out of our jurisdiction."

Among the suggestions raised by staff and the public were speed bumps, signs, LED lights, getting rid of certain bike lanes and crosswalks, and public education.

"We've gotta slow people down," one man said in an impassioned appeal to the council. "If cars go slow, people don't die."

"We have to think about who we are trying to make safe here," Mayor Joanne Sanders said. "Pedestrians are the most vulnerable. Sonoma is becoming more popular. That will bring more congestion. The topic of a roundabout in front of the Plaza needs to be discussed. It's long overdue."

She suggested that a public education outreach include senior housing.

Council members and the public mentioned late afternoon congestion getting in and out of the Safeway parking lot.

Staff will further study the options and return to the council with an update.

Dee Baucher November 20, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Sonoma has long been a retirement destination. We have many seniors and a large number of senior housing developments and residential "assisted living" facilities. We need a system of van-pools/paratransit vehicles to provide transportation for our many seniors and disabled individuals who deserve transporatation: to go shopping, go to the library, go to medical appointments, go to the community center or senior center for socialization, etc. We can not expect our seniors and disabled to live marginal existences by being house-bound. They are clearly putting themselves and the rest of us at risk, by continuing to drive. This needs to stop. Rather than provide the needed funds for this service, California (and their DMV) has continued to allow this precarious situation to continue. It is time for accident victims to pursue litigation against all those responsible for this dangerous situation.
Pierrette Duriez November 20, 2012 at 10:19 PM
We moved to Sonoma with the understanding that when the time came we could not longer drive safely due to age, we would walk. Everything needed for everyday living is within walking distance. However, It is not always safe to do so. It is past time for a stop sign at the intersection of Broadway and France/Andrieux. Many motorists still do not understand the meaning of in-bedded lights in the crosswalk, and they barely show in bright sunshine. Call me dense, but I was surprised too when I encountered ground lights for the first time in another city--I was still puzzling over the phenomenon while driving away. There was no one on either side of the street which presence could have shed (excuse the pun) light on the presence of such lights. As to stop signs, even little kids know their meaning. Pierrette Duriez
Anna Gomez November 21, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Gee, the Chateau Sonoma Hotel needs to have a modern roundabout approved and installed at Broadway on the plaza in order to build their mega hotel. What a bunch of transparent bull.

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