Last week’s Bike to Work day was one of the most significant in the event’s 22 year history in the East Bay. Four ribbon cuttings occurred in the cities of Oakland, Berkeley, Piedmont, and Emeryville, including three protected bike lanes. These projects represent the first wave of a significant investment in complete streets in the East Bay; many more transformative projects are in the pipeline.
Ribbon Cutting Recap
Berkeley provided the most impressive achievement with the completion of a protected bike lane on Fulton Street. Just two months ago, we wrote about the city’s 16+ years of inaction that contributed toward a near-fatal crash. Thanks to incredible efforts by the community, Bike East Bay, and the City, Berkeley’s first protected bike lane was delivered in record time. Although the bike lane is short and does not span the entirety of Fulton, it represents a critical step forward for a City that had fallen behind in delivering complete streets improvements.
Oakland delivered a pair of impressive, albeit imperfect road diet projects on Telegraph Avenue between Broadway and 29th Avenue and Grand Avenue between Mandana Boulevard and the Piedmont city limits. Phase one of the Telegraph Avenue complete streets project includes Oakland’s first parking-protected bike lanes as well as safety improvements for all modes. The City recently received a $4.5 million grant to continue the road diet to 41st Street. The redesign has experienced some growing pains, however, as a lack of vertical delineators and clear signage has resulted in frequent blockages of the bike lane. While the initial results raise some concerns, a low cost addition of soft hit posts could help resolve the issue.
The Grand Avenue road diet provides a critical safety improvement for people walking and driving along what was a wide, chaotic street. A joint project between Oakland and Piedmont, the project encompasses the outer edge of the Grand Avenue business district. Unfortunately, the project is not great for bicycling: the new bike lanes are adjacent to front-in angled parking – a major hazard for people biking. Despite advocacy by Walk Oakland Bike Oakland and Bike East Bay, the City refused to implement back-in angled parking (a safer solution) due to a perception of inconsistency with nearby front-in angled parking on Grand closer to I-580. Ironically, the City recently repaved Grand to I-580, but maintained the status quo without a road diet. The safety and traffic calming benefits of the road diet outweigh the poorly-designed parking configuration, but hopefully a corridor-wide solution is in the works.
A two block-long, two-way cycle track was also completed in Emeryville along Christie Avenue, closing a key gap in the Bay Trail.
The ribbon cuttings on Bike to Work Day demonstrated a new chapter in the East Bay’s complete streets movement. Whereas cities often lacked the political will to tackle safety improvements on major automobile corridors, this attitude is increasingly shifting to a more multimodal approach to street design. The East Bay is now on the cusp of an exciting transformation of its streets with too many projects to count. Some of these include:
• East Bay Bus Rapid Transit (funded)
• Phase 2 of the Telegraph Avenue to 41st Street (funded)
• 20th Street (Oakland, funded)
• Rumrill Boulevard (San Pablo, funded)
• Hearst Avenue (Berkeley, funded)
• Fruitvale Avenue (Oakland, grant applications pending)
• San Pablo Avenue (El Cerrito, grant applications pending)
• 27th Street, West Grand Avenue, 14th Street, and 66th Street (Oakland, grant applications pending)
• Central Avenue (Alameda, grant applications pending)
• And many more!
As more of these projects are implemented, there will certainly be growing pains and learning experiences. However, it’s exciting to see the area’s streets become safer and more active one project at a time.