OakDOT is crushing it. Over the past two months, Oakland’s new Department of Transportation has transformed the way it approaches transportation: it has reshaped how the City analyses traffic impacts by ditching level of service for vehicle miles traveled, reformed its parking requirements to help reduce housing costs, published a DOT Strategic Plan to prioritize equity and sustainability in transportation planning, and won $16 million in Active Transportation Program funding for protected bike lanes on Fruitvale Avenue and 14th Street. But perhaps the most monumental shift in the City’s thinking was unveiled at the City’s recent Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meeting as it relates to the Lakeside Green Streets project.
A year ago, we published an in-depth examination of the deeply flawed Lakeside Green Streets project, which proposed to rebuild a bloated segment of Harrison Street along Lake Merritt based on outdated highway design standards and traffic projections that never materialized. Despite pleas of advocates like Bike East Bay to right-size the street and modernize its approach to accommodating people walking and biking, the 15 year old legacy project appeared certain to get built.
What a difference a year makes.
OakDot has completely reinvented its plans for Harrison Street to include state-of-the-art protected bikeway and protected intersection designs while adding pedestrian and transit enhancements. In the City’s submittal to the Alameda County Transportation Commission’s Comprehensive Investment Plan, the Lakeside Family Streets Project would add additional enhancements to the Green Streets project, which will soon begin construction. The Family Streets project, designed in-house by OakDOT staff, includes several key updates:
• Replacement of proposed on-street parking with a two-way protected bike lane along Lake Merritt from 20th Street to Grand Avenue/27th Street
• Closure of a vehicle slip lane and conversion to bicycle-only access
• A protected intersection and bus bulbouts at the Harrison Street/Grand Avenue intersection
• Addition of a second crosswalk across Harrison at 21st Street
• A bicycle-only signal phase at the Harrison Street/Lakeside Drive intersection
Given the state of this project a year ago, these changes are nothing short of spectacular. Coupled with the Go Uptown project, 27th Street Complete Streets Project, and Telegraph Avenue Complete Streets Project, the growing Uptown/Lake Merritt area will soon feature a network of walkable and bikeable streets. One could point out the outstanding deficiencies in the proposed design – including the excessive third northbound lane on Harrison, the gap in protection between Lakeside Drive and 20th Street, and the lack of a southbound protected bike lane on the west side of Harrison – but it’s clear that OakDOT did the best it could without adding more delays to the project. Funding for the Family Streets project enhancements is not guaranteed, but given the importance of the corridor for transportation and recreation, the project should be extremely competitive.
Way to go OakDOT!