If you’ve ever traveled between River Park and Sac State, East Sacramento and Campus Commons, you’ve dealt with the intersections on Carlson Drive at H and J Streets. They’re bad in a car, with trees obscuring red lights, sections of road one hundred feet wide cut up by wide islands into just three lanes, high-speed traffic squeezing down to fit through narrow bridges and railroad overcrossings, and no-man’s-land sections with no traffic signals. They’re worse for pedestrians, with missing crosswalks, drivers ignoring over-wide “yield” lanes, and sidewalks that just end. And they’re worst of all for bicyclists, who have to deal with narrow bike lanes, no safe places to turn from, no good access to the American River Bike Trail, and no way to trigger traffic signals, in addition to having to suffer the same problems as the car drivers.
No wonder these intersections have seen two cyclists’ deaths in the last two years and mounting motorists’ deaths over the years. No wonder the fire department hates sending someone out onto H Street to block traffic so they can back their ambulance out of the station. No wonder River Park residents seem to have so many stories of harrowing close calls or heartrending tragedies.
Carlson is a horror story, but it can still have a happy ending. There are already efforts underway to turn the Carlson Corridor into a simple area, with clear traffic controls, better access to River Park, the Parkway trail, and better emergency vehicle access. We can make sure there are no surprises for pedestrians, and safer routes for bicyclists. In fact, the Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates have already developed a plan to fix Carlson!