We Bike Oakland – Winter 2021 (28th ed.)

The 28th edition of the bi-annual Bike Oakland newsletter, “We Bike Oakland” covering Bike Plan implementation progress between July and December 2020 is now available [5.6MB PDF]. Text is copied below.

Brooklyn (of the West) Basin Pathways

New bike and pedestrian paths were constructed in the Brooklyn Basin development, reaching from the on-street Bay Trail at Embarcadero, paralleling a newly constructed 9th Ave, and extending southwest to the Oakland Estuary. The path is wide and newly paved, west of a wide public plaza with views, amenities for gathering, and a new grocery store (with other retail planned). The multi-year project is transforming 64 acres of industrial waterfront on the Oakland Estuary into a mixed-use neighborhood with more than 30 acres of publicly accessible parks, trails and marinas with residences in a range of styles including apartments, townhouses, lofts and condominiums. The San Francisco Chronicle referred to the new waterfront park as a “startling remake of a derelict pier.” The generous open spaces make for a Covid-appropriate bike ride to check out the views and the biggest Oakland development in recent history.

Judge John Sutter Regional Shoreline

In October, the new Sutter Regional Shoreline opened to the public, showcasing “the industry, infrastructure, and ecology that have shaped the history of this spectacular expanse of shoreline.” The park is located at the foot of the eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, and the project added a new bike path spur from the Bay Bridge Trail. The path leads to a 600-foot long, 40-foot wide observation pier built upon piles from the old Bay Bridge. Judge John Sutter is a former East Bay Regional Park District Director and founding member and former president of Citizens for Regional Recreations and Parks. In 1967 he proposed a park at this site that now exists and bears his name.

Development of the Judge John Sutter Regional Shoreline was a joint project between nine agencies: Bay Area Toll Authority, Caltrans, San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, California Transportation Commission, East Bay Regional Park District, City of Oakland, Port of Oakland, East Bay Municipal Utility District and Association of Bay Area Governments’ Bay Trail Project.

Oakland Public Library Community Bike Programs Refurbish and Distribute 56 Bikes

A “recycle a bicycle” collaboration between the Oakland Public Library (OPL) and the community-based Cycles of Change, was completed in October. The 22 adult participants attended an online road safety class and socially distanced group safety ride to learn basic bike riding and maintenance skills and get personalized route and riding guidance. As reported in Winter 2020, upon successful completion of the program, participants would earn a refurbished used bike, helmet, lock, and lights—and they did! OPL staff also refurbished 14 bikes and gave them to youth at Lion Creek Crossing (an Oakland Housing Authority property near the Coliseum) in coordination with the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporations’ Family Resource Center. Finally, with funding from OakDOT, OPL purchased bike tools which were used to repair bikes for a future giveaway at the Martin Luther King, Jr and 81st Ave Branch libraries. Ten youth bikes will be refurbished at each site as part of an “earn-a-bike” program. The tools will continue to be used for other efforts.

Slow Streets Phase II Underway

OakDOT kicked off Phase II of the Slow Streets Essential Places Program with the release of an Interim Findings Report in September. With the pandemic continuing indefinitely, the Program is being reformulated with an emphasis on sustainability, including the use of more durable materials. A new Oakland-specific Slow Streets sign, featuring Scraper Bike imagery by local artist Jonathan Brumfield, is being used to better communicate the program. Residents along the Slow Streets corridors are being asked if they would like their Slow Street to be upgraded to the more durable materials, or if they think it is time for the barricades to be removed. New materials were installed first on the Ney Ave Slow Street in November. Essential Places Locations—pedestrian safety improvements at essential services—are being made permanent.

Telegraph Avenue Looks to the Future

In October, separated bike lanes were installed on Telegraph Ave in the Temescal, from 37th St to 52nd St. The project paved the street and reduced the number of through travel lanes from two to one per direction with a continuous center/left turn lane. The bicycle lanes are adjacent to the sidewalks, in the roadway, and separated from the travel lanes by parked cars and bollards. The major intersections include corner islands to slow turning drivers and separate cars from bicyclists and pedestrians, a design approach known as a “protected intersection.” The project also includes a design treatment that is new to Oakland: mini speed humps at corners to encourage more cautious turns by drivers while still allowing access for trucks and other large vehicles. The final new feature—bus boarding islands—are in construction as of this writing.

Concurrent to the Temescal project, upgrades were made to the existing separated bike lanes on Telegraph Ave from 20th St to 29th St in the Northgate neighborhood, including bollards to separate the bike lanes from the parking lanes, mini speed humps at the corners, and bollards at crosswalks.

Camden St Knits It Together

Bike lanes on Camden St were installed in October as part of a multi-street paving contract, closing a 1⁄2-mile gap along an otherwise continuous stretch of bikeway. At the southeast end, Camden St connects to one of Oakland’s oldest and longest bikeways on Bancroft Ave, as well as to the more recently completed bike lanes on Havenscourt Blvd (which connect to the BRT bike lanes on International Blvd). To the north, Camden St connects to bike lanes on MacArthur Blvd along the Mills College frontage installed in 2013, one of several projects improving bike access to connect the Laurel District to Mills College and the Maxwell Park area. Thanks to little ol’ Camden St, a robust bikeway grid is now emerging in Central/Deep East Oakland.

E 21st St Makeover

A major improvement to bike lanes on E 21st St, 14th Ave to 23rd Ave (originally installed in 2013), was completed in December. The bike lanes through this residential area were widened and buffered, and the travel lanes were narrowed. Now-standard high-visibility crosswalks were installed as well. And, did we mention the paving? E 21st St is 70 feet wide, the same as Telegraph Ave. This major investment was brought to you by you! via voter-approved Measure KK.

Other Bikeways Completed

About 3.2 lane miles of new bike boulevards were installed on A St, Hillside St, and 42nd St. New developer-funded buffered bike lanes on blocks of Webster and Franklin Sts extended existing bike lanes on those streets south from 14th St to 11th St. A short but key stretch of buffered bike lanes was installed on 35th Ave between International Blvd and E 12th St), near the Fruitvale BART Station, funded by a Highway Safety Improvement Program grant. This grant is constructing other traffic safety improvements along 35th Ave north of International Blvd including flashing crosswalk beacons and curb extensions. Overall, OakDOT’s Paving Program delivered 8.2 lane miles of new and/or improved bikeways between July and December 2020.

Map of Oakland Bikeway Projects and Network Status, Winter 2021.

BPAC’s Year in Review

The Bicyclist & Pedestrian Advisory Commission (BPAC) bids farewell to two Commissioners who have reached the end of their terms: 2020 Chair George Naylor and Mariana Parreiras. Both received proclamations from Mayor Schaaf thanking them for “advocat[ing] tirelessly and selflessly to ensure that the pedestrian and bicycle system, policies and program are implemented to prioritize safety, effectiveness and equity, ensuring that the City of Oakland will be a great place to walk and bike for everyone, now and for many future generations to come.” In January 2021, the BPAC welcomes two new Commissioners: Michael Lok and David Ralston. Andy Campbell, the 2020 Vice-Chair, was reappointed to a new three-year term.

The BPAC completed its 2020 Annual Report, summarizing the Commission’s work for the year and making recommendations to City Council and OakDOT. The 2019 Annual Report was also finalized, following delays associated with the pandemic. Recommendations from the 2020 report include:

  • Continue progress made towards filling OakDOT staffing vacancies (based on 2017, 2018 and 2019 recommendations), with particular attention to filling the Community Engagement & Communications Manager and Major Corridors – Signal position.
  • Strengthen the review of OakDOT projects by BPAC, particularly timely follow-up on comments before project final design has concluded.
  • More proactive[ly] coordinate with BPAC on bicycle and pedestrian-related initiatives that originate from the City of Oakland Mayor’s office, City Council and departments and agencies outside of OakDOT.
  • Strengthen coordination with BPAC and community stakeholders during bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure implementation phases, including monitoring of effectiveness and safety and continued community engagement.

Bikeshare in the Time of Covid-19

The regional bike share program, BayWheels, was greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Total ridership in Oakland plummeted by as much as 88% over three months, as Oaklanders greatly reduced their travel to comply with the regional shelter-in-place order issued in March. Riders took 18,000 trips in Oakland in February, 8,000 trips in March and only 3,000 in April. By contrast, February 2019 saw 20,000 trips, March 2019 27,000 trips, and April 2019 26,000 trips.

In response to the COVID pandemic, BayWheels took steps to ensure their vehicles were safe and available to the community for essential trips. BayWheels maintenance staff stepped up their cleaning protocols and began disinfecting high-contact surfaces on bikes each time they interacted with them. To support essential medical workers, BayWheels introduced a “Critical Worker Program” in May which provided free memberships for healthcare workers for a month. Unfortunately, the pandemic also ended the negotiations around a large-scale electric bike expansion in Oakland. Electric bikes remain part of the BayWheels system in San Francisco and San Jose, but there is no timetable for their return to the East Bay.

Despite these challenges, the program is poised to expand from 80 to 84 stations using a new funding model. In December, the newest bike share station at 13th St and Webster St was installed, the first of four to be funded by an Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities grant. This grant, administered by the California Department of Housing and Community Development, also paid for a 66-unit affordable housing project plus free bike share and AC Transit passes for each of the residents. Two more stations will be installed this winter in the vicinity of a 51-unit affordable housing project at 3268 San Pablo Ave. Funding for staff to support Bike Share is provided by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s Transportation Fund for Clean Air and the Alameda County Transportation Commission.

BTWD Reimagined

Covid-19 delayed Oakland’s annual Bike to Work Day event until September 24, 2020 when the pancake-free “Bike to Wherever Day” was substituted. Walk Oakland Bike Oakland and Bike East Bay helped promote “socially distanced celebrations” with goody bags for pick-up at bike shops, cafes, and libraries. A digital goody bag was also made available to participants.

Bike Map Goes to 11

The 11th annual edition of Oakland’s Bikeways Map hit the stands in September 2020, later than typical due to Covid-19. (Usually, the map is distributed in goody bags and through bike shops on Bike to Work Day in May.) The map shows bikeways in Oakland and in parts of our neighboring cities, symbolizing them by type of bikeway (lanes, paths, etc.). Pick one up at an Oakland bike shop or download it here.

Plymouth St Traffic Circles

The recently-designated neighborhood bike route (aka bike boulevard) on Plymouth St was enhanced with the addition of nine traffic circles between 81st and 103rd Aves. The circles were installed to calm traffic and provide greenery along this 1.5-mile route connecting the Eastmont and Elmhurst neighborhoods. Plymouth St intersects with existing bikeways on 98th Ave and 90th Ave (Scraper Bikeway) and its length anchors other proposed neighborhood bike routes in Deep East Oakland.

Bike East Bay Urban Cycling 101

Five Zoom classes and one on-road bicycle street skills training course were offered by Bike East Bay in November and December to a total of 68 attendees. These classes are made possible by a City of Oakland grant from the Transportation Development Act Article 3 fund, a portion of the state sales tax dedicated to bicycle and pedestrian projects. For information on future classes, click here.

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