Telegraph Avenue Complete Streets Project, 20th-29th Street

At the June 17, 2021 BPAC meeting, Ryan Russo, Director of the Oakland Department of Transportation (OakDOT), presented a brief history of bike facilities on Telegraph Avenue in Koreatown Northgate (KONO); provided an overview of what we’ve learned since the installation of an interim project in 2016; and an overview of the proposed recommendation to install enhanced buffered bike lanes with active curb management, which City Council will consider later this month. Director Russo shared how the public can continue participating in the public can continue participating in the Telegraph Avenue Complete Streets Project.

The presentation and summary of discussion are below. Robert Prinz’s livetweet thread is here. Oaklandside’s coverage is here (07/09/21).

City Staff Report

At the June 22, 2021 Public Works Committee meeting, OakDOT will submit a staff report recommending Enhanced Buffered Bike Lanes with active curb management. Afterward, the item will go to City Council at their July 6, 2021 meeting. View the full report here [PDF]. The executive summary is copied below.

On June 2, 2021, OakDOT published a blog post on Medium titled “One Size Does Not Fit All: Bike Lanes, Communities, and How City Government Needs the Humility to Evolve“, summarizing the staff report and providing context to the decision to change course to buffered bike lanes with innovative curb management strategies instead of upgrading to concrete protected bike lanes.

conceptual image of protected bikeway versus buffered bikeway


What we’ve learned (2013-2019)

  • The good:
    • The number of people walking and biking doubled
    • People driving are three times more likely to yield to people crossing the street
    • People walking and biking report feeling safer with the bike lane than with the five-lane condition
    • Motor vehicle volumes have remained steady, but 85th percentile speeds have decreased closer to the posted speed limit of 25 mph
  • The less good:
    • Reported collisions involving people walking and biking increased by 33%
    • People driving park in the bike lane
    • Bike lane and intersection visibility concerns
    • Pedestrian visibility concerns
    • Anecdotal reports of increased near-miss collisions
    • Maintenance challenges
    • Businesses report negative impacts
    • Aesthetic concerns

Download the presentation here [PDF].

Staff Report – Executive Summary (June 6, 2021)

“The proposed resolution directs staff to pursue Enhanced Buffered Bike Lanes with Curb Management, including on nights and weekends, along Telegraph Avenue between 20th Street and 29th Street. Bike lanes were first installed on Telegraph Avenue between 20th Street and 29th Street in 2016 (Telegraph Complete Streets Project). Since 2016, staff have assessed the corridor and continued to make interim safety improvements, pursuant to City Council direction in December 2018 and April 2019. In July 2020, City Council directed the City Administrator to engage residents and merchants to co-create street design improvements on Telegraph between 20th Street and 29th Street. The City Administrator’s Office convened leaders from the Department of Race and Equity, the Oakland Department of Transportation (OakDOT), Walk Oakland Bike Oakland, Bike East Bay, Koreatown-Northgate (KONO) Business Improvement District, and local Northgate Neighborhood Council to engage stakeholders and to develop and evaluate alternatives to improve Telegraph Avenue.

This group assessed five alternatives to modify Telegraph Avenue against ten metrics, prioritizing both perceived and actual safety. Research shows that protected bike lanes are typically safer than buffered bike lanes, especially at mid-block locations where people biking and people driving are physically separated. On segments of Telegraph Avenue with more standard block lengths (~250-300’ between intersections), staff recommend protected bike lanes. Protected bike lanes separate roadway users, appeal to people of all ages and all abilities, and reduce fatalities and severe injuries. However, the number and frequency of uncontrolled, often off-set, intersections along Telegraph Avenue between 20th Street and 29th Street may compromise the safety benefits of protected bike lanes. Buffered bike lanes with active curb management can address intersection and driveway visibility concerns, which are especially pronounced on this segment of Telegraph Avenue. A person biking in a buffered bike lane is constantly in view of, and can themselves easily view, adjacent moving vehicles. Bicyclists are not obscured from turning motorists’ view by parked vehicles by design. People biking may be more likely to be aware of vehicle movements in advance of driveways and intersections and may be less likely to be struck by those motorists.

In addition to safety considerations, this group assessed how each of the five options performed relative to accessibility, transit operations, corridor utilization, commercial operations, community support, vitality, aesthetics, and special events (First Fridays). Staff determined that the Enhanced Buffered Bike Lanes with Curb Management option best balances these considerations.

Staff recommends that the City Council follow the direction of the KONO community and pursue Enhanced Buffered Bike Lanes with Curb Management. Staff will return to City Council prior to constructing the project and award the construction contract.”

Summary of discussion

  • This recommendation seems like backtracking, given the previous decisions made in support of protected bike lanes and the data supporting their safety benefits.
  • This decision may send a signal throughout Oakland that permanent protected facilities for the most vulnerable roadway users are not a priority.
  • The recommendation is based, in part, on a managed buffered bike lane providing an equivalent level of safety to the protected bike lanes.
  • There are concerns in the disability community regarding the accessibility of parking along protected bike lanes. The previously proposed Active Transportation Program (ATP) project included best practices to address this concern.
  • The bus boarding islands would be in the same locations under all options.
  • With the installation of protected bike lanes, the number of pedestrian and bicyclist crashes increased, but the rate of crashes decreased. In other words, the number of pedestrians and bicyclists increased by more than the number of crashes.
  • Construction is anticipated in 2022 if the buffered bike lanes move forward. This is the same schedule that was anticipated with the ATP project for the concrete version of the protected bike lanes.
  • A motion to extend the meeting by 30 minutes was made (Campbell), seconded (Schader), and approved by consent.
  • No equity considerations were made when the project was originally designed and constructed, from 2014 to 2016. The proposal is not backtracking. It is a pivot to get the project right.
  • Residents in the Northgate neighborhood feel disproportionately impacted by the bicycle and scooter constituency, and the staff recommendation would remediate that.
  • Protecting the bike lanes with concrete curbs will solve the problems with the current project.
  • The managed buffered bike lanes will require a police presence, whereas State funds have already been awarded to solve the issues with concrete.
  • The large plastic bollards helped matters, and the concrete islands are the next step in this evolution.
  • This project is an example of mediocre design that is also being implemented in downtown San Jose. There should be an option for a well-designed protected bike lane. Repurpose the center median to make the bike lanes wider and use that extra space for a better design.
  • Comparing the options to the previous facility (no bike lanes) is not helpful. Telegraph KONO has had more bicyclist crashes that other commercial districts in Oakland, including College Ave, Piedmont Ave, and Lakeshore Ave.
  • Loading and unloading elders and pets is challenging from parking lanes along protected bike lanes.
  • Confident bicyclists are avoiding Telegraph KONO because of the visibility issues with the protected bike lanes on Telegraph Ave. Visibility is fundamental to roadway safety.
  • Concrete will not solve the conflicts in the bike lanes created by pedestrians, other bicyclists, and drivers crossing the bike lane at intersections and driveways.
  • With an aging population there are large numbers of people the project does not serve. Most bicyclists on the street are able-bodied – this is idealistic but not realistic. Include car drivers in these decisions. Women may not feel safe, particularly at night, with transit or biking.
  • Paint will not stop a distracted driver or a drunk driver.
  • Bike infrastructure should be built for the most vulnerable, like children.
  • The managed parking approach should be combined with protected bike lanes to provide another option.
  • The project was a pilot project, and it has failed. Telegraph KONO initially supported the project and was interested in trying something new. But it does not work. The visibility issues are severe.
  • A motion to extend the meeting by 30 minutes was made (Campbell), seconded (Schader), and approved by consent.
  • Study after study show that protected bike lanes are safer for everyone on the street.Keep the protected bike lanes, remove more parking to increase visibility, and apply the parking management strategies.
  • In 2015 BART urged the City to improve bicyclist access along Telegraph Ave between the 19th St and the MacArthur BART stations. The current condition is only a partially completed project, and Oakland should finish what it set out to do in building protected bike lanes.
  • Other corridors are good for protected bike lanes, but Telegraph KONO is not.
  • There are concerns regarding OakDOT’s analyses of the traffic volumes and crash data that are being used to justify decisions. OakDOT should be more transparent with its data and analysis.
  • The process should have included bicyclists outside of Bike East Bay and WOBO, as bicyclists do not agree and this range of views is not represented by the advocacy organizations.
  • If the roads are not safe for bicyclists, only “daredevils” will ride bikes. This daredevil behavior is used by naysayers to unfairly criticize bicyclists in general.
  • Finish the work by pushing forward to finish the project. Fewer parked cars would provide more space and more visibility. This is the necessary transition to more bicycle usage and less car usage.
  • The benefits of the managed parking are overstated in justifying the staff recommendation.
  • Buffered bike lanes are preferred because of the number of intersections and driveways. Visibility is a critical consideration, and the current design does not achieve the necessary visibility.
  • Buffered bike lanes allow for sidewalk widening and bulbouts, creating usable space exclusively for pedestrians. Protected bike lanes do not.
  • The current process of a BPAC meeting and two City Council meetings is insufficient for changing this project that has developed over so long and through so much process.
  • The protected bike lanes did get better with the installation of the large plastic bollards. They had a positive effect on the illegal parking and the visibility, and these improvements could be increased with concrete curbs.
  • Riding slowly on Telegraph Ave does solve the visibility issues.
  • Option 1 and Option 2 are comparable, but Option 3 tilts the scales by adding parking management strategies. Complete the analysis by adding Option 4: protected bike lanes with managed parking.
  • The following questions were asked as part of the preceding comments:
    • Why are the cars turning at such a speed that they can’t stop for pedestrians?
    • The frequency of unsignalized intersections is an interesting metric. How does this frequency compare to other locations and cities
    • How is the8 5th percentile speed measured at 24mph on Telegraph Ave?
    • If OakDOT staff had not been directed to work with the Business Improvement District (BID), would the conclusion be the same?
    • What prevents the parking management strategies from being applied to the protected bike lanes?
    • Why do cyclists need to have a lane dedicated to them on high traffic streets like Telegraph Ave?
    • What is the plan for providing parking,especially for women, who do not eel safe taking public transit?
    • What about requiring bicyclists to get licensed and learn the rules of the road?
    • What is the evidence that buffered bike lanes would be safer than protected bike lanes with concrete curbs?
  • A typical long block may be 800 feet and a typical short block may be 250 feet, 225 feet, or less.
  • Speed surveys are generally done when there is free-flowing traffic to gauge how fast people will drive.
  • A motion to extend the meeting until 10:00pm was made (Campbell), seconded (Schader), and approved by consent.
  • Managed parking could be combined with protected bike lanes, but support from the commercial district is crucial to the success of implementing managed parking strategies.
  • The City Council agenda report mischaracterizes the BPAC’s position on Telegraph KONO. To correct the record, OakDOT submitted a supplemental report that more fully and accurately summarizes BPAC’s involvement in the debate over protected bike lanes on Telegraph Ave.
  • A motion that BPAC does not support the OakDOT staff recommendation and urges the continuation of the implementation of the concrete protected bike lanes with added curb management strategies, addressing visibility issues to the extent feasible, and controlling parking in the protected bike lanes was made (Jones), seconded (Gardner), and approved unanimously (Burnette, Campbell, Gardner, Jones, Lok, Mangrum, Ralston, Schader, and Yee).
  • Speakers other than commissioners: Chris Lu, Marc Hedlund, Dave Campbell, Zach Kaplan, Tommaso Boggia, Jose Fermoso, Anthony A. Campana, Raymon Sutedjo-The, Nathan Moon, Bryan Culbertson, Ryan Fauver, Andrew Boone, Doug Cross, Greg Rozmarynowcz, Tom Holub, Kai, Mariana Parreiras, Maggie, Dylan Reichstadt, Doug Letterman, Shari Godinez, Will Porterfield, Patrick, Robert Raburn, Jon Bauer, Max Davis, George Spies, George Naylor, Liat Zavodivker, Brian Hanlon, Dan Tischler, Robert Prinz (commenting on behalf of Tom Willging)

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