A striking video was posted to the Bike East Bay Facebook page on Tuesday depicting illegally parked cars clogging Oakland’s new buffered bike lane along Broadway. The video, submitted by Volvap Egroeg, shows parents at Oakland Technical High School using the entire block of the bike lane as a pick up zone. Cyclists, displaced from bike lanes, are forced to unsafely veer into higher speed traffic and contend with double-parked cars swerving in and out. No police enforcement is present.
The buffered bike lanes on Broadway were supposed to represent a major milestone project for the City’s implementation of its Bicycle Master Plan. Broadway is a key north-south corridor for cyclists traveling to/from Downtown Oakland and BART, and presents a key opportunity to grow cycling in the City. Between July and December, the City removed two lanes of traffic to implement buffered lanes, which seek to offer additional comfort and protection to cyclists compared with standard bike lanes. The project is on the cover of the City’s bike newsletter this month.
While buffered bike lanes are generally preferred to standard lanes, this video clearly illustrates their limitations. Buffered lanes are just wide enough to create the opportunity for double parking, and offer only symbolic protection to cyclists. Without vigilant enforcement, their utility can diminish substantially – in this case, the lanes disappear twice a day during pick up and drop off periods. Greater protection is often needed to limit double parking and create a safer facility.