Blogging Bayport Alameda

March 31, 2015

Life in the bike lane

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda-ish, Transportation — Lauren Do @ 6:01 am

That article that commenter MI posted in yesterday’s comment is nothing short of excellent, I wanted to excerpt a few passages for people who may not commit to reading the whole thing.  It’s mostly about Oakland, but given the Alameda has even better terrain and a built in mostly 25 mph speed limit island wide, it’s a shame that we don’t do a better job with bicycle infrastructure to further encourage increased bicycle usage:

[R]esearch has increasingly demonstrated that building better bike infrastructure does more than just attract new riders and increase safety. It can revitalize business districts, benefit the environment, and improve the health of city residents.


Five years ago, before she was elected to the city council, Libby Schaaf traveled to Portland, Oregon as part of an Oakland delegation studying transportation — and was blown away by the city’s bike lanes. “It was a transformative experience for me to really see how the simple and inexpensive things, like road colors and striping … make biking so much safer,” she recalled. In Portland, she said, “They aren’t just biking for recreation and exercise … they are using it as a primary mode of transportation to get to their work and to get around in their daily lives.”

Experts told me that the cities currently ahead in bike infrastructure owe a great deal of their success to a strong policy vision from the top — mayors, city councils, and transportation directors unafraid to push controversial projects and take space away from cars, even in the face of loud opposition.

“It comes down to political leadership and the willingness to take risks,” said Rebecca Sanders, an expert on bike and pedestrian planning and former researcher at UC Berkeley’s Safe Transportation Research and Education Center. “When people are willing to take risks, there’s been a lot of evidence that those risks have been rewarded with results.”

In the future, experts agreed, the leading cities in bike infrastructure will have fully connected networks of bike lanes that are strategically separated from car traffic — such as the parking-protected lanes that Oakland is installing on Telegraph Avenue. A successful bike network also requires creative solutions to some basic challenges, like conflicts at intersections when cyclists make left turns or when cars want to make right turns across bike lanes.

Portland has also done a good job analyzing the benefits of its infrastructure. The city estimates that the cost of building its entire bikeway network is equivalent to the cost of constructing just one mile of urban freeway, Geller noted. And by many measures, the return on that investment has been eye-opening.

For example, from 1994 to 2011, per capita driving trips in Portland declined by 8.5 percent as more people chose to ride bikes — a shift that translates to 72 million fewer driving trips by Portland residents each year. The significantly below-average driving rate in the city also translates to $1.2 billion in savings on gas and car costs — money that circulates back into the economy, according to an analysis Geller completed. [emphasis added]


  1. Great article, and a sign of things to come. But still bummed about the Transportation Commission decision’s to deny the Clement Complete Streets project.

    Comment by Karen Bey — March 31, 2015 @ 6:49 am

  2. Still don’t understand — why not put bikes on Lincoln and make Clement dedicated truck route? No trucks on Lincoln makes it safer. It’s wider. Wide enough to have protection for bikes and ped’s. It has more homes and schools than Clement. It can go all the way to base.

    Comment by Li_ — March 31, 2015 @ 7:17 am

  3. I grew up in Oregon, and it works so well there partly because the streets are typically wider in the first place. So many of the streets in Alameda are very narrow, especially in the middle of the island. Some of them you 2 barely get a cars though at the same time. One has to pull over to the side to let the other one pass. It is like this on Willow after you get past the hospital and many other streets. The streets going East / West tend to be wider. I personally don’t like riding my bike in Alameda…except to go to the ferry or a few other places.

    I had a bicyclist kick my truck while I was at a light once because he couldn’t get though when I was stopped at a light on Park St. There was a SUV next to me and parked cars next to the curb and he was came up behind me after I was stopped and he was mad because he couldn’t get between me and the parked car. There is no lane sharing when there is no room. I personally won’t ride my bike on Park or Webster Streets as there is to much “in and out” traffic. I am comfortable riding my bike on Main St, Lincoln St, Otis, Grand, Broadway and some of the residential streets that don’t have much traffic, but I wouldn’t ride it all over the island. That is just me.

    Comment by Jake. — March 31, 2015 @ 7:19 am

  4. As a lifelong cyclist and a League Cycling Instructor, I am far from convinced that the “preferred option” cycle track as proposed is the best possible option for Clement Avenue, given that numerous marinas and marine businesses are along Clement. Placing two 11-foot auto travel lanes between parked cars on both sides of Clement means there will be more traffic tie-ups when a 12-foot or wider boat or trailer needs to travel n Clement.

    Removing car parking from *one* side of Clement would allow for buffered bike lanes beside each auto travel lane, and give trucks additional width–better than the city’s original bike lane proposal, which leaves cyclists in the door zone (DZ). A 3-foot buffer between parked cars and a Class II lane places most cyclists out of harm’s way from DZ impacts, and another 1.5 foot buffer could separate passing cars from cyclists.

    This only works if the City of Alameda and local residents are willing to remove parking from one side of Clement for the length of the project, of course: are we willing to take on the sacred cow of parking? I hope so: the cycle track as proposed seems far more dangerous to cyclists, with parked cars inhibiting their ability to be seem by drivers turning into the marinas and marine businesses.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — March 31, 2015 @ 7:25 am

  5. #2: you are right, Lincoln is a prime candidate for a road diet with protected bike lanes. Plenty of space, flagging retail districts that could use the non-freeway traffic, connects the center of the island’s two downtowns.

    As the article and research points out, to really start making a dent, there needs to be a dense, connected network of bike infrastructure to make cyclists feel safe and gets large increases in cycling. Is it so outrageous that cyclists feel comfortable riding on at least every 4th road traversing the island?

    The Cross Alameda Trail will be built and separated from Seaplane Lagoon, down RAMP, through Jean Sweeney park and along the shore behind Del Monte. The section that got shot down last week will be an obvious missing link to our network. Smart people who know what they are doing for a living say that the truck traffic can manage just fine on the proposed street design for Clement, with parking protected bike lanes. Hopefully when all the other segments of the Cross alameda Trail go in, public sentiment will change and political leadership realizes our error, and it will get restriped.

    Comment by BMac — March 31, 2015 @ 7:41 am

  6. Such a track does indeed make a lot more sense on Lincoln, and it is klunky at best on Clement for the reasons that Jon says. But most of the time, auto traffic on Clement is so light that biking it is simple and easy w/o a special lane (I bike that length 2-3X/week).

    If we’re going to spend the political and financial capital on this sort of thing, do it on Lincoln, as Li says it’s already wide, already mostly residential, already runs the length of the island. Do it there.

    Comment by dave — March 31, 2015 @ 7:46 am

  7. Jon, initially I tended to agree with you, but I now see that the additional information the TC needed was verification of parking demand and wide load frequency, for starters. Parking at driveways on the track side simply needs to held back a few spaces. Cyclists can’t zoom along with impunity without driving defensively, and nobody should be taking driveways at 25 MPH. I’ve had a boat at Alameda Marina and it is really dangerous to drive faster than about 5 to 7mph once within the gates, 15 mph tops. It’s really a waste of time to speculate without that information. Seems like time to consider mounting time lapse cameras on utility poles to capture a week of activity on streets so we can produce convincing data, and that includes the existing track on Shoreline.

    I’ll give you a good anecdote of a flaw or weak area which I predicted in Shoreline track which has manifested. Yesterday at 5p.m. I arrived at Park and Otis east bound in the track. There was a car on Park facing south waiting to turn left, a car heading east wanting to turn left on Park arrived with me and a car heading west going straight soon after, then another car at going east trying to go straight. Normally arriving at a four way stop is pretty easy to track who is either first or to one’s right, but I was perpendicular to the direction I needed to travel. The first car wanting to turn left off Park was aware of this and would have hit me so was frozen but they had right of way. The car to that person’s right was waving him to go but nobody would move. Finally the car headed straight west went and I went using him as a shield. The sun made for bad visibility and I could not make any eye contact. That was THE worst case scenario, frustrating for all of us, but we all managed. Having done it once I’ll be better prepared to count vehicle arrivals and to make clear hand signals.

    At TC meeting Citizen Spencer spoke very briefly but one point she made is that “people have told me of cases of cyclists still using the remaining traffic lanes and not staying in the track.” I’m sure that is true though I have yet to see in my half dozen trips down the track. But what is her point? Since some dope doesn’t use the track, that alone invalidates it’s existence? She didn’t say what she thought should be concluded from that comment but I don’t care because she is another dope. Citizen Dopey.

    Comment by MI — March 31, 2015 @ 8:07 am

  8. There are a lot of residential driveways on Lincoln, how does Portland deal with them? And, will bycycles be integrated into Alameda Point from the design stage, or will streets be designed only with cars in mind?

    Comment by Not A Alamedan — March 31, 2015 @ 8:38 am

  9. 8. Seriously? If you are entering or exiting a driveway and have to cross a bike lane, look for cross traffic then proceed when safe, just like crossing any other through travel lane. As for the Point, they are including bike infrastructure from the get go, with separated bikeways on the main street(s), bike lanes on the side streets, etc. *if the development plan moves forward, which is a big if right now.

    Comment by BMac — March 31, 2015 @ 8:44 am

  10. Pacific Ave is my go-to route when riding cross the island. There are many stop signs along the route, but not a whole lot of cross traffic, so Hollywood stops work fine (honestly, don’t we all do that anyway). More signage and pavement delegation could be added for the cheap instead of the raised curbs and planters proposed elsewhere. Connecting to lateral future paths via Sherman, Grand, Constitution, etc would be a breeze.

    Comment by ChrisD — March 31, 2015 @ 10:27 am

  11. RAMP? I suppose this means Ralph Appazatto . . . ?? I know people have worked hard for Jean Sweeney linear park stuff, but does one issue supercede or negate the existance of another? Simple logic says Clement is the best place for trucks. If we dedicate it now, with its possible extensions, we would have a way for trucks to get through the island efficiently with little downside for island residents. The’s nobody even there yet for some of it. If all trucks went on Clement, maybe even (gasp) make it 35mph like Tilden Way, it would get most of the noisy heavier traffic, thus freeing up our other logical cross town street, Lincoln, for a make-over into a real Blvd. or Parkway. Lincoln is wide enough to have sidewalks, protected bike lanes, parking, divider like Thompson Ave, center turn lane, round-a-bout, or more in any combination. Maybe different configurations in different neighborhoods. And we un-cinc lights, enforce the 25mph. Then we would have two good ways to get across from east to west, one obviously business/commercial, one obviously people friendly.

    Comment by Li_ — March 31, 2015 @ 10:31 am

  12. 11. the Northside is going to be less and less an industrial corridor. We have levels of mixed usage almost everywhere including more residential on Clement. We shouldn’t make major problem for marine and other commercial activity, as Grand Marina guy ominously insisted bike track would do, but just how much truck traffic do we have, and along what routes? If you envision burgeoning truck traffic along the length of the island, maybe dedicating Clement makes sense. I swore Broadway from Otis to Tilden was truck route, but map says 61 goes over Bay Farm bridge. Who among us knows this stuff 100%? I don’t. Anybody know if trucks which come over Miller Sweeney go up Broadway to Southshore or are they restricted to route 61? I seem to recall residents on Broadway complaining about increase in trucks from Southshore Mall renovation. Broadway is a class 2 bike route.

    “but does one issue supercede or negate the existance of another? “. Exactly, but there are two sides to that coin. Is an entirely dedicated truck route on Clement justified and should it supercede seamless connectivity of bike way from the Point through Jean Sweeney to Clement extension? The lack of that connectivity is clearly the argument against Lincoln as prime route.

    As an aside, I was at Encinal waiting to make left northbound on Park and had to back up to allow a tractor trailer to make a hugely wide turn into oncoming lanes, to proceed west bound on Encinal. Don’t know if he was on Park legally or by mistake, but that caused delay and confusion through several light changes at 8:30 a.m..

    Comment by MI — March 31, 2015 @ 11:34 am

  13. Sounds like there are more questions than answers at this point. Need to see a map of all truck routes in Alameda, especially Clement.

    Comment by Karen Bey — March 31, 2015 @ 12:26 pm

  14. I’m suggesting that with delivery trucks coming from bridge traffic to Alameda Point and our moving trucks from other through-town streets to Clement, then we will have, perhaps, twice as many trucks plus commuter cars on Clement than we have now. If we can move to designate Clement our truck route now, then the possible abutting uses can plan for that. Why must we always, always make every street a mixed use, not quite workable for anybody street. We have a golden opportunity to do something far reaching, beautiful, efficient and long overdue for shabby Lincoln before Public Works messes it up any further. As soon as there is an efficient route through town, anybody who is in a hurry will gravitate there. They will leave the inconvenient streets to the rest of us. One reason Portland’s bike routes work is because they have designated auto routes.

    Comment by Li_ — March 31, 2015 @ 12:26 pm

  15. From Caltrans Website

    260 ALA 0.64 Atlantic Ave. in Alameda ALA 1.92 Jct 880 4 Trucks restricted from transporting hazardous materials / waste through Webster and Posey Tubes. (Otherwise, route is California Legal.)

    These are the only truck restrictions I see in Alameda.

    This is a pretty rough drawing but it shows Truck Routes with the City

    Click to access truckroutemapsigned.pdf

    Comment by frank m — March 31, 2015 @ 1:23 pm

  16. 10. Pacific is a good bike boulevard, and is designated as a bike route. Like San Jose/San Antonio in the middle/southern part of the island. Almost all cross traffic has stop signs, and there isn’t lots of through traffic, which make biking more attractive. I am comfortable sharing the lanes, cycle confidently, even w/ a toddler on the back. Most people are not. They want to be separated from cars, moving ones zooming up at them from behind and doors of parked ones.

    Comment by BMac — March 31, 2015 @ 1:47 pm

  17. Thanks Frank. It’s dated 2009; maybe we need to make some adjustments considering all the new changes in the pipeline.

    With all the artsy type shops, the boat makers, the marina, the planned parks and open space, and the residential planned for Clement – Clement Street in the long term has the potential to be an extension of Park Street – which is why I like the Clement Complete Streets project. Lincoln is okay – but Clement Street is one of the up and coming area to keep your eyes on. City Ventures has two really great projects up for approval on Clement Street – and one of them has a great commercial/retail component. Boatworks – is also out there, and when these projects come online, there will be more foot traffic, shoppers, and bikers on Park Street.

    If we’re looking at return on investment, complete street projects are perhaps one of the best investments we can make. Studies show that businesses are attracted to these types of retail corridors – they are attracted to the bike and pedestrian friendly streets. It’s also great for tourism.

    I can understand the concern from the commercial shops – but if we can find a way to make it work, I would love to see this happen.

    Comment by Karen Bey — March 31, 2015 @ 7:28 pm

  18. Don’t they already have bike lanes on Santa Clara Ave for those who want it on Lincoln it is already just a block over.

    Comment by Jake. — April 1, 2015 @ 7:31 am

  19. 14. O.k., I get your logic, but I think to verify that concept as viable we still need data on use, current and projected. Deliveries aren’t all at the Point, but are all over the island. One of the early questions I asked above is how will future develop change street uses, which is somewhat speculative but not impossible to estimate within some margin of accuracy. People on Buena Vista, Broadway and other streets have complained about trucks, so my question is, do we have to be careful to limit trucks as some point to avoid making residential use unbearable? There are residential buildings on every street, many very old, not to mention projects like Del Monte. To get goods and servoces to where they need to go it may not be possible to designate one artery.

    Comment by MI — April 1, 2015 @ 7:53 am

  20. 15. thank you Frank!

    Comment by MI — April 1, 2015 @ 7:58 am

  21. Newcomer here!

    Why do the pedestrian/bike paths have to be on Clement at all? Why not along the waterfront?

    Currently, there is a waterfront path from Wind River (past Del Monte) to the Grand Ave. boat ramp, and a little bit behind the city lot on Grand. Then there is a chain link fence. So a pedestrian/biker at Grand is forced onto Clement until Blanding, where the path picks up behind the strip mall.

    Why is there a chain link fence blocking public waterfront access? I thought waterfront was public access, and that BCDC had jurisdiction for 100 feet, etc.

    Widen the existing waterfront path for bikes (if necessary) and connect from Grand to Blanding by accessing the blocked waterfront access. A waterfront path is much nicer/safer than a truck route.

    Comment by Fortmann Resident — April 2, 2015 @ 7:49 pm

  22. As we develop more bike trails throughout the Bay Area and Alameda, we must put forth an effort to educate and train bike riders to share the roadways. Far too many bike riders are a primary cause of traffic problems. They run red lights, they cut in and out of traffic and they have minimal respect for the rules and for those around them. This must change. Bike riders should carry “bike insurance,” and each bike should have a formal “bike license plate.” They are moving vehicles and need to be handled as such. The bikes should pay an annual bike registration fee to help pay for the growth of bike paths and trails. Is there anyone out there that is driving an effort to address these type of issues?

    Comment by Bill — April 6, 2015 @ 6:09 pm

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