By Devin Fehely

HAYWARD (KPIX 5) — To put pedestrian and cyclist safety first, Hayward plans to tinker with stoplights to slow down commuters going through downtown.

Starting Wednesday, a popular East Bay shortcut with a constant flow of traffic may hit a speed bump.

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Drivers often hop on the ‘Hayward Loop’ along Mission and Foothill boulevards to avoid backups on the Interstate. Now, they may want to think again.

The city has a new plan to slow commuters down.

For thousands of commuters it’s often the fastest way to get from the ever-congested I-880 corridor to I-580.

But the quick, convenient shortcut for commuters is creating problems for the city of Hayward.

“Speeding is a huge problem,” said Hayward traffic manager Fred Kelley. “Our merchants believe speeding is a huge disincentive for our residents to come downtown and shop in the stores and eat in the restaurants.”

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The city’s solution is to tinker with the traffic lights to slow commuters down.

And if they’re being perfectly honest, they hope the changes will cause some drivers to steer clear of the area altogether.

Pedestrian Leondre Eason said, “It’s downtown. It’s expected to have a lot of traffic. But as a pedestrian walking around, it is a little hectic.”

Eason and his friends often walk through downtown and they wish it was more pedestrian and bike-friendly. But they can also understand the frustration of drivers.

Student Vianca Ocegueda said, “Being a commuter in a car is the fastest way to get around. So, I could understand them asking, ‘Why do you want to slow us down? We’re just trying to get from point A to B as fast as we can.'”

But the shortcut routes puts drivers right through the heart of downtown and city leaders say it’s hurting Hayward’s economic lifeblood.

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Kelley said, “We’re trying to create an environment where pedestrians feel comfortable coming to downtown, park their cars and then walk throughout the downtown.”