Biking on most urban streets may not always be a stress-free experience, but an individual with basic bicycle safety knowledge can usually navigate through streets without incident if everyone behaves safely (albeit a big “if”). However, today we want to…
Streetsblog California recently proclaimed a new bike lane in Orinda “The Worst Bike Lane in the World.” The bike lane sits outside of our office on Camino Pablo, straddling between two high-speed right turn lanes as it passes under Highway 24 and the Orinda BART Station.
To put it simply, this bike lane is terrifying. It lies in the middle of a dangerous through-double-right turn as cars are accelerating onto the westbound freeway onramp. Drivers in the middle lane are expected to turn across the lane, potentially resulting in high-speed right hook crashes in excess of 50 mph. Robert Prinz of Bike East Bay posted a video of what it’s like to ride the segment.
As Streetsblog notes, the dashed bike lane was intended to be a low-cost solution to addressing a gap in the bike network. Many people ride from Orinda and Moraga to the BART station or recreationally, so the lane is intended to elevate the awareness of bicyclists. The City is constrained in what they can do by Caltrans, who insists on keeping the double right turn despite its recently stated goal of tripling bike mode share. Caltrans’ stubborn approach is especially puzzling given that the second lane is largely superfluous from a traffic operations perspective: it is only 200 feet long, and over one thousand feet of queuing space already exists on the dedicated right turn approach for cars entering the freeway.
Bike East Bay and Bike Orinda are working with the City to eliminate the second turn lane as a part of the upcoming reauthorization of Measure J, the Contra Costa County transportation sales tax. In reality, it shouldn’t be this difficult: Caltrans should restripe the onramp to be consistent with their statewide complete streets directive and be done with it. The current configuration is excessive and hazardous for all users; it must be fixed before something terrible occurs.