Blogging Bayport Alameda

August 22, 2011

Down the tube

Filed under: Alameda, Transportation — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

Last week Jeff Cambra of Alameda Currents sent me this video he shot and edited of him riding his bike through the tube.  For those of us sitting in our cozy cars zipping through the tube, there is no way that we would ever be able to imagine — no matter how good our imagination is — just how truly icky the tube is.

Unfortunately WordPress does not allow embedding of videos, so while I would normally embed the video for you, I can’t.   So I urge you to please click through to the link to get an idea of how awful it is for bikes and pedestrians through the Tube.   For context the video is of Jeff C. riding from Oakland to Alameda.

What I did find interesting from the comments made about the whole Estuary Crossing Shuttle there seems to be this perception that because some individuals simply do not see people using the walkway that it does not get used.   It remind me of one of my earliest viewings of the Don Roberts Show when he had Pat Bail as a guest.  The conversation turned to the subject of the Bay Farm Bike Bridge and they both discussed what a huge waste of funds that it was because neither of them ever saw anyone using the Bike Bridge.

In fact, one commenter cited a segment on KTVU news which reported that about 100 people used the Tube daily on bike or on foot and expressed that same sentiment that when she drives through the tube she only sees one person per month.   Other chimed in with a similiar anecdotes even after another commenter pointed out that the number probably came from a BikeAlameda census which counted non automotive users of the Tube and the Park Street Bridge.    Another commenter suggested that the numbers from BikeAlameda might have been slightly fudged since I suppose that 100 seems like entirely too high of a number for daily use of the tube.

Of course, had these critics read the clarification with a more objective eye they would have understood that the point of the BikeAlameda census was to point out that usage of the Tube is abnormally low, not high.   Given that a lot of the Oakland attractions, businesses, and regional transportation is is close proximity to Alameda’s West End if there was a better non automobile connection this number would be a lot higher.    Park Street Bridge which connects Alameda to little of interest on the Oakland side has five times as much usage because it’s not miserable and dangerous to navigate outside of a car.



  1. I’m unable to see the video but that may just be my fault rather than the internet’s.

    A couple of non-scientific observations: Several years ago I used to commute through the tube at about 5AM and occasionally would go by a bike rider in the tube. Not on the narrow walkway, in the traffic lane. He had very bright flashers on his back and rode at a tour de France type of speed.

    Now I commute by bike most days. At that hour I usually see 4 or 5 others on their way to work. If I see that number in my very short ride, I have to believe there are many more than the 100 bike commuters number that has been cited by people.

    Comment by dave — August 22, 2011 @ 6:21 am

  2. I mis-read the 100 figure. I doubt there is anywhere near 100 bikers using the tube daily but I’ll wager there are many, many more than 100 bicycle commuters in Alameda as a whole.

    Comment by dave — August 22, 2011 @ 8:13 am

  3. That’s strange. I clicked on your first link and, voila, got to watch the inside of Jeff’s nose while he complained his way through the tube.

    Few suggestions for Jeff; wear a surgical mask (especially if he’s going to film himself), use ear plugs, buy and install a set of narrow handlebars, enjoy the interaction of meeting somebody half way through, buy another bike, store it in Oaktown and bus through the tube…or hitch a ride with Lauren.

    Comment by Jack Richard — August 22, 2011 @ 8:37 am

  4. Is this your link?

    Comment by Jack Richard — August 22, 2011 @ 8:40 am

  5. Assuming that they have to get back, is the figure 100 round trips or is it really only 50 people in all?

    Comment by Denise Shelton — August 22, 2011 @ 9:18 am

  6. A long time ago I worked at 5th and Broadway and thought I might like walking to work through the tube. I did it once. When I got to work I was so covered with grit that when I washed my face and hands the water was muddy. Not to mention having to be careful to not touch the sooty tiles and get my clothes dirty. I don’t think it is a healthful place and agree that a mask would be a good thing to have, as well as maybe a long lab coat one could use to protect one’s clothing. So I went back to the bus. The busses are full at commute time so if there were more shuttles where people could take their bikes to ride when they got past the tube that might be a good incentive to encourage use of mass transit.
    In NY, there are pedestrian walkways that were separated from the roadways in the tubes going into Manhattan. They have separate air systems and breatheable air. I don’t know if they are still open, but many years ago when I lived briefly in New Jersey, they were.

    Comment by Kate Quick. — August 22, 2011 @ 9:20 am

  7. So Jeff if you want to spice it up a little, try riding as fast as you can in there. Its kinda like trying to commit suicide. I have ridden through the tube on a bike since I was about 9 or 10, it definitely has not improved with age. Most people I see using the pedestrian lane are college students.

    Comment by John P. — August 22, 2011 @ 9:22 am

  8. Ah, Kate did your full buss include a little tounge work?

    Comment by Jack Richard — August 22, 2011 @ 9:50 am

  9. Multiple pieces of anecdotal evidence is not a data set.

    Comment by Chris Muir — August 22, 2011 @ 9:56 am

  10. No one has claimed such.

    Comment by dave — August 22, 2011 @ 10:33 am

  11. 9.
    “What bothers me is that there are a lot of people who use statistics as an excuse to avoid thinking.”

    Comment by Jack Richard — August 22, 2011 @ 10:56 am

  12. 11. You’re not referring to John are you?

    Comment by dc — August 22, 2011 @ 11:03 am

  13. It’s not avoidance, it’s inability

    Comment by dave — August 22, 2011 @ 11:08 am

  14. 12.
    John uses anecdotal evidence backed with stats, so ‘no’ to your question.

    Comment by Jack Richard — August 22, 2011 @ 2:00 pm

  15. I use to go through the tunnel by bike to visit a doctor at the Alameda Hospital when I worked in downtown Oakland. It is a little scary at first and the walls are dirty, but it is a short ride and you could walk it if the narrowness scares you (less than 1/2 mile). The guy on the video is being over dramatic, it is not that bad – it is loud though. The air quality is not great, but it doesn’t make you cough or gag (I’m from New York). Once I did it when the tunnel lights were out. That was an experience; my path was only illuminated by the on coming headlights. I think I panicked half way through and got off and walked my bike. I have probably ridden through the tunnel 10-15 times and only saw another rider maybe 3 times, more pedestrians than bikes – I generally rode during the middle of the day. Not sure if a shuttle would be well utilized; you can take your bike on AC transit already (they have rack on the front of the buses), and I would rather do the 5 minute ride than have to wait for a shuttle. Then you can tell all your friends and coworkers that you ride through the tunnel; maybe even have an interesting story to tell.

    Comment by Richard — August 22, 2011 @ 7:32 pm

  16. Pleasent surprise, Blip TV works well with iPad. Most are FLASH and don’t. Wonder what happens when neither party can lift his bike over the guard rail? Exchange bikes until next pass?

    How does the shuttle run match up with regular bus runs? I’m wondering about driving to shuttle, then going to SF, then returning, but at non-shuttle time. Does regular bus stop at the same stops so one could get back to car easily?

    Comment by Li_ — August 22, 2011 @ 8:25 pm

  17. The walkways in the Posey are for drivers who need to use the Call Boxes when their cars break down in the tube. Never designed for pedestrians, much less cyclists. But since they’re being used that way, each side should be one way, in opposite directions.

    Comment by vigi — August 23, 2011 @ 12:59 pm

  18. What Vigi said. I always thought pedestrians and cyclists going towards Alameda in the tube were verboten. Anyway, Jeff’s a brave man, I don’t think I’d attempt the trip with or without a bike.

    Comment by Ross — August 31, 2011 @ 9:59 am

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