Redwood City residents aim to curb speeders

The residents of McGarvey Avenue have had their cars totaled, their pets killed and their trees damaged by speeding drivers, and they have had enough.

Motorists often use McGarvey — which connects Farm Hill Boulevard at the top of a hill to Fairview Avenue at the bottom — as a shortcut or a thrill ride, residents said.

Soon, traffic chokers, approved by the City Council on Monday, will be installed where McGarvey intersects with Chesterton Avenue and Fernside Street, near the top half of the stretch between Farm Hill and Fairview. The choke points — rubber curb extensions that jut into the street, narrowing it by the width of two cars — will be in place for a six-month trial to see whether the measure forces drivers to cool their jets.

Four years ago, McGarvey resident Kathy Schrenk had a knock on her door at 2 a.m. It was a teenage girl who had sped her car down the hill and rammed a tree in Schrenk’s yard. “She was bleeding from a gash on her head … and yelling ‘call 911,’” Schrenk said. “That was pretty traumatic for us.”

A neighbor’s dog was killed by a motorist, and a man working in his driveway was struck and injured, said Howard Smith, who has lived on McGarvey for 10 years.

“I’ve seen cars with all four wheels airborne,” Smith said.

Now, just two stop signs slow drivers down, at Alameda de las Pulgas and at Roosevelt Avenue. Between September 2000 and September 2005, police logged 60 automobile collisions on McGarvey, including 10 with minor injuries and 12 hit-and-runs, according to a report from city spokesman Malcolm Smith. Unsafe turns, failure to yield and speeding were among the top causes.

Chokers will not be installed atmore intersections because some residents who lived near them didn’t like the idea, Redwood City traffic engineer Richard Heygood said. While the City Council unanimously approved the trial, council members wanted to explore other options, despite some residents’ opposition.

“Someday we will need to make tough decisions for the sake of public safety and not leave it up to residents,” Councilman Jeff Ira said. “What happens when you ask people if they want these is, they say yes, but when you ask if they want them in front of their house, they say no.”

Vice Mayor Rosanne Foust asked the neighborhood and the city’s traffic committee to return in 60 days with updates on plans to add stop signs and traffic circles at other intersections on McGarvey.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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