At the August 6, 2020 Infrastructure Committee meeting, Jennifer Stanley, OakDOT staff from the Bicycle & Pedestrian Section led a discussion on Neighborhood Bike Routes. This draft Neighborhood Bike Route Implementation Guide is an update from the previous draft presented at the June 4, 2020 Infrastructure Committee meeting.
Neighborhood Bike Route Implementation Guide
DRAFT, last updated August 3, 2020
This Guide provides direction on implementing the Oakland bike plan: Let’s Bike Oakland! (2019) recommendations for “neighborhood bike routes” also known as “bicycle boulevards.” Implementation is described in four subject areas: Route Establishment, Traffic Calming & Traffic Control, Public Notification and Comment, and Performance Measurement. The first three areas address the planning and design process. The fourth area addresses the ongoing monitoring of existing neighborhood bike routes.
The City of Oakland’s Bicycle Plan, Let’s Bike Oakland! (2019) proposes 74 miles of neighborhood bike routes and provides the following definition:
- Calm local streets where bicyclists have priority but share roadway space with automobiles.
- Includes shared roadway bicycle markings on pavement and additional traffic calming measures like speed humps or traffic diverters to keep streets comfortable for bicyclists
- Comfortable for bicyclists with wider range of comfort levels
The Bicycle Plan outlines four actions for streets designated as neighborhood bike routes: Improving Major Street Crossings; Reducing or Preventing Speeding; Preventing High Car Volumes; and Increasing Pavement Quality. These actions are addressed in the guidance below.
A neighborhood bike route includes – at a minimum – pavement markings, guide signs, and some consideration of pavement quality.
Mid-Block Bicycle Pavement Markings (three alternatives for discussion):
- Alternative 1: If low stress bike routes are going to be referred to as Bicycle Boulevards in maps and communication materials, install City of Berkeley style BIKE BLVD pavement markings (Figure 1).
- Alternative 2: If low stress bike routes are going to be referred to as Neighborhood Bike Routes in maps and communication materials, install sharrows per current City standards (Figure 2).
Intersection Bicycle Pavement Markings: Install shared lane intersection markings (chevrons) or green-backed sharrows through intersections per the following criteria:
- Unsignalized rectilinear Local/Local intersection, where both streets are 40′ wide or less: No intersection marking needed. May use chevrons if desired.
- Signalized and/or skewed intersections with four or fewer approaches, transitions to/from bike lanes (see markings at 38th Ave and Brookdale Ave), or where one or more streets is wider than 40′: Use chevrons (Figure 4).
- Offset intersections, intersections where bikeway turns, or complex multi-legged intersections (including across divided roadways): Use green-backed sharrows (Figure 5).
Other Pavement Markings: Speed hump markings, stop stencils (as needed), and centerlines (50 LF) approaching controlled intersections (Figure 6). Avoid the use of edge line stripes and continuous center lines.
Bicyclist Guide Signs: Install bicycle guide signs per current City standards (Figure 7). Install a modified street name sign, similar in purpose to those used to mark bike boulevards in Emeryville and Berkeley. Additional placemaking signs may be added to complement bicycle guide signs when developed to address the following recommendation from the Bike Plan: “OakDOT will engage communities in a collaborative design process to develop placemaking signage for Neighborhood Bike Routes. The signs will complement bicycle wayfinding signage by depicting neighborhood identities.” (p.121)
Projects on existing or planned neighborhood bike routes should include paving if needed. Where possible, work should be coordinated with the City Council adopted paving prioritization plan. If only a short segment of a proposed route is on the paving plan, bicycle boulevard markings should be included in the following situations: (1) where the new segment connects to another existing bikeway; (2) where the pavement quality of adjacent segments allows the installation of a longer bikeway; or (3) if additional resources for paving have been secured for the adjacent segments. If a project has limited budget for paving, the project should – at minimum—provide “make-safe” spot pavement repairs, or pave only the expected operational width of the bikeway (for a neighborhood bike route this would mean paving only the travel lanes and not the parking lanes).
 City Council approved a three-year paving plan in 2019 based on a variety of criteria, including correspondence with the bike plan. See report. Measure KK, the voter-approved infrastructure bond, has funded the acceleration of paving of local streets. Nevertheless, pavement condition will continue to hinder development of the bike boulevard network and more resources will be needed.
Traffic Calming & Traffic Control
A neighborhood bike route may include traffic calming in response to measured traffic volumes and speeds, and special treatments at the crossings of arterial and collector streets.
Volume and Speed Management: Discourage cut-through traffic and, if needed, reduce motor vehicle volumes and speeds through the implementation of traffic calming measures, such as speed humps, traffic circles (Figure 8), islands (Figure 9), and diverters (Figure 10). Traffic calming should be implemented (and only implemented) in response to traffic volumes and/or speeds that exceed OakDOT’s guidelines.
OakDOT guidelines are based on the speed and volumes in NACTO’s Contextual Guidance for Selecting All Ages and Abilities Bikeways which recommend that streets with traffic speeds and volumes below the following thresholds are appropriate for bicycle boulevards:
- Speeds less than or equal to 20 MPH, less than or equal to 2,000 average vehicles per day, and less than 50 vehicles per hour per direction at peak hour; or
- Speeds less than or equal to 25 MPH, less than or equal to 1,500 average vehicles per day, and less than 50 vehicles per hour per direction at peak hour.
Bicycle boulevard projects on streets with traffic speeds and volumes above these thresholds should include traffic calming measures to bring speeds and volumes down. On proposed neighborhood bike routes on arterial or collector streets where traffic calming is infeasible, advisory bike lane striping/markings/signage may be an alternative if the street sufficiently wide. If traffic calming is infeasible and the street is too narrow, an alternative alignment should be developed.
Stop Control at Local Streets: To the extent feasible, minimize the number of stops on neighborhood bike routes.
- Intersections of neighborhood bike routes and local streets should be either (1) stop-controlled on the local approaches only (preferred); or (2) all-way stop-controlled.
- Before stops controls are changed, the MUTCD requires a traffic study. A standard study scope should be defined by OakDOT Safe Streets Engineering Section.
- Where stops remain on the neighborhood bike route, install the supplemental “all way” stop sign placard or “cross traffic does not stop” placard, as applicable (Figures 11 and 12).
- When stops are eliminated on a neighborhood bike route, conduct before/after monitoring of traffic volumes and speeds to determine if changes in stop control should be accompanied by traffic calming (if not already included).
Daylighting: Parking may be restricted up to 20 feet from the curb return on all intersection approaches. This may be challenging on residential streets in front of people’s homes and a standard process should be developed to evaluate and respond to concerns. (See Public Comment, below.)
Uncontrolled Crossings of Collectors and Arterials: Install treatments that support bicyclists at uncontrolled crossings of collectors and arterials. Develop triggers for these treatments based on traffic speed, traffic volume, and crossing distance. Possible treatments include:
- Bicycle warning signs (Figure 14);
- “BIKE XING AHEAD” pavement legends;
- High-visibility crosswalks (Figure 16);
- Bikeway markings through the intersection;
- Stop control;
- Rectangular rapid flashing beacons (Figure 17);
- Pedestrian hybrid beacons with bicycle detection (Figure 18);
- Median islands (Figure 19);
- Curb extensions (Figure 20); and
- Traffic signals.
Offset Intersections at Collectors and Arterials: Bicycle boulevards should avoid shared-lane situations on the major street wherever possible. Offset intersection treatments may include:
- Bike lanes (Figure 21);
- Bicycle turn pockets (Figure 22);
- 2-stage turn queue boxes (Figure 23);
- Two-way cycle tracks (Figure 24); and
- Intersection signalization.
Traffic Restrictions: Access restrictions (Figures 9 and 10) should be considered on a case-by-case basis and be prioritized where the volume of cut-through traffic is incompatible with a street’s designation as a neighborhood bike route. Proposals for traffic restrictions may need an area-wide traffic study to determine where the traffic would be diverted to, communicate the diversion to affected residents, and potentially address impacts created by that diversion. Access restrictions should be designed to reduce or eliminate cut-through traffic while allowing local access (e.g., right-in/right-out only at collectors and arterials).
Public Notification and Comment
Like all bikeway projects, residents on and near proposed neighborhood bike routes should be notified of proposed projects during the early design phase when public comments could be addressed. Additional notification should be provided to residents immediately adjacent to the locations proposed for speed humps and traffic circles. This may be in the form of a letter mailed directly to those addresses. The public process should include an appeal process in order to manage conflict with a clear path to conclusion. The types of issues that provide a basis for appeal should be predefined (by this Guide) and identified in the public notification process. As part of this Guide, develop an internal OakDOT process whereby appeals are elevated to and decided by management.
Emergency Response Classification Map: Work with OFD, OPD, and other stakeholders to develop a map of emergency vehicle stations and routes and seek additional review and vetting when proposing traffic calming on major emergency vehicle routes.
OakDOT should work towards a monitoring system for neighborhood bike routes to ensure they are meeting the traffic thresholds noted above. If the route is not meeting those thresholds, additional traffic calming should be considered. This system should be designed in acknowledgement of the limited capacity for ongoing monitoring.
Notes from the Infrastructure Committee
- Shared map of upcoming paving segments overlaid with recommended bike boulevards from the 2019 bike plan update
- How to deal with short segments of paving that don’t connect to other bikeways or other connections? Should short disconnected segments receive bike blvd treatments or no?
- What triggers marking segments as bikeways later if not done with paving?
- No trigger unless another project improves connecting pavement quality or extends the length of the bikeway segment
- Sarah Fine (OakDOT): Paving team so far has planned to implement bike blvd markings with each segment identified as such in the bike plan, even short ones. Other traffic calming requires more analysis, and the City can’t realistically do this for every segment getting paved.
- Speed humps – City doesn’t have enough staff time to do outreach around every paving segment.
- Per committee comments, staff will consider using existing bikeway notification mailers that the city sends out to also get specific input on speed humps in addition to the overall facility proposal
- Staff mentioned that speed humps proposals can often be controversial among neighbors.
- Comments made that not adding traffic calming and leaving the status quo could be controversial as well
- Some residents concerned about the Slow Streets closures have indicated that what they actually need is traffic calming, not signage