Commuting Safety

Parent Q&A

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  • I have to start commuting from Alameda to the area around Fruitvale and 580. That whole area seems to have gotten even more dangerous since Covid. I didn’t feel safe driving up Fruitvale or 23rd, I tried some side streets and they were no better, and I’m sure it will get worse as the days get shorter and I’m driving in the dark. Can anyone recommend a safer route cutting up through the Fruitvale area? I don’t even need it to be fast, just safe. I thought about using the highway but that might be a last resort. Thanks for any advice!  

    If you're worried about the local streets, the highway is the logical option coming from Alameda, especially if you're on the West Side where it's also likely to be your fastest route. But if you're on the East Side, I'd give Fruitvale another try--it's a straight shot from Alameda to the 580/Fruitvale intersection and it's a relatively heavily trafficked street, so there are almost always people around. Late at night I'd worry much less about Fruitvale than about side streets with little traffic and few people out walking. You could also try 35th or High Street, but I'm not sure you'd find them enough different from Fruitvale to be worth going that far out of your way. Many of the smaller streets in that area don't go through, so won't help you much. Congrats on the new job!

    You might consider crossing on 14th Ave. That involves going up 12th Street, which is a fast 4-lane road with limited stoplights, although it does run adjacent to a homeless encampment. 14tth Ave is also a 4-lane road with limited lights (I think it has a 30 or 35 MPH speed limit but I couldn't verify this). It passes Highland Hospital up toward 580. You could then either take 580 down to Fruitvale (if you keep normal hours this would be reverse commute direction and it's only one exit down) or you can take the cut-off at the Quick Stop to cross under 580 and take Macarthur down.

    I also live in Alameda and work in the heart of the Fruitvale, so it's my daily drive as well (along with many others as it's a main route up to 580). I've never encountered a problem in the several years I've been doing this drive for work (or the 30+ other years I've driven it for other reasons). The only things you might encounter are some reckless drivers and busses that slow things down - just like anywhere else. Other than that, I'd say that there's nothing to be afraid of. Lots of people even bike up and down this route.

    I'm a bay area native who lived there in college as well - so I don't see it as being unsafe just because the people who live there may happen to be less economically advantaged or the streets may not be as clean. There are shootings on all the bay area freeways, even in "nice" areas, so my advice would be to just take a deep breath, put on some calming music and be a courteous driver and you will be just fine.

    We live a  few blocks above 580, between Fruitvale and 35th Avenue.

    Visiting Alameda always requires patience.  As you may have observed, the side streets off Fruitvale are narrow, because they are old streets.  And the area on both sides of Fruitvale is a maze, because local creeks mean there are not many cross streets that go through.

    Let's consider some options.  These are not very direct or efficient routes, but they avoid sketchy areas.

    First, Webster Street tube.

    From Alameda to Fruitvale: emerge from the tube.  Jog on a numbered street SE to Harrison, left. When you approach the county courthouse area, go right on 13th or 14th and navigate around the south tip of Lake Merritt. The street eventually becomes Lakeshore Avenue. Pass the Athol Park tennis courts and turn right on East 18th Street. Go about 3 blocks to Park Boulervard, turn left.  Continue uphill into Glenview.  turn right at the multiple-street corner onto Hampel. Turn right on Randolph or Ardley.  Continue to East 38th Street, go left.  Follow East 38th to MacArthur Boulevard, go left at the signal.  Continue one block to Fruitvale, go right.  You are in the Dimond District.

    Returning by this route, use Madison rather than Jackson to go under I-880. Jackson gets gridlocked at times.

    Second:  Using Fruitvale bridge:

    Cross the bridge.  Continue to East 12th Street (better) or East 14th Street (traffic).  Turn right.  Go 2 blocks thru Fruitvale transit village to 35th Avenue. Turn left.  Thirty-Fifth Avenue is arguably less sketchy than Fruitvale, but it is a narrow street with speed bumps that were installed because of numerous bike and pedestrian accidents.  At 580 you can go left onto the freeway and go two offramps back to Fruitvale.  Reverse this process to go back to Alameda.

    If it is after dark, check for congestion on 35th Avenue.  I used to have to pick up a family mrember at Fruitvale  BART, and twice there was police action that shut down the street around 10pm.

    When we go to Alameda we use this second route, or High Street, which may be out of your way.

    Alameda is a wonderful community, but in order to go anyplace, one must drive thru the sketchiest areas of Oakland.

    "Cutting through" or driving on residential streets is unkind to residents and dangerous to them in terms of getting hit by cars. If you don't feel like going on the freeway, please stay on the arterials (35th is probably fastest), and look for pedestrians and cyclists, especially children.