The City of Oakland, in partnership with UC Berkeley, recently conducted a survey of shoppers in Temescal along a controversial segment of Telegraph Avenue to better understand the travel behavior of shoppers. The segment under study between 40th and 52nd street represents the heart of the Temescal business district. Temescal was left out of the first phase of the City’s Telegraph Avenue Complete Streets Plan due to opposition by several local merchants, who believed that most shoppers drive and a road diet would be bad for business.
Contrary to the merchants’ perspective, the City found that most shoppers on Telegraph in fact do not drive. A majority of shoppers (55 percent) arrived by modes other than driving, including walking (27 percent), BART (14.5 percent), bus (10.5 percent), bicycling (3.5 percent) and other/multiple modes (6.5 percent). Only 39 percent of shoppers drove along or with others to get to Temescal.
The study also examined how much shoppers spent by mode. While drivers typically spend the most per trip, pedestrians had a greater impact on a monthly basis because they visit Temescal more frequently (14 trips per month, versus 6 for drivers).
The survey results speak to some important points about Telegraph Avenue’s design. Telegraph Avenue is an urban shopping street that depends upon people walking; yet, its automobile-oriented infrastructure places its biggest customers at risk (the segment under study had over 20 vehicle-pedestrian collisions between 2007 and 2011). The design of Telegraph Avenue should reflect its multimodal nature and accommodate pedestrians in a safe and enjoyable manner. Enhancing Telegraph Avenue’s streetscape to be more walkable, bikeable, and accessible via transit will help local businesses prosper.