Blogging Bayport Alameda

October 8, 2015

Mind the CAT gap

Filed under: Alameda, Development, Transportation — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

Tonight the Rec and Park Commission will be reviewing and making a recommendation on the Cross Alameda Trail portion of the Jean Sweeney Open Space Park.  While this is going to be a feel good agenda item, here’s what the Rec and Park Commission should be concerned about in addition to back patting and sending accolades to staff on a job well done: the job’s not quite done.

Here’s the concern.  While the trail will be protected on Atlantic (RAMP) between Main and Webster and then the Sweeney Open Space Park will provide a protected connection through the stretch of that street there is a terrible gap between Webster and Constitution where, I guess, people on bikes will be forced on to the sidewalks and streets to get between the two pieces of the Cross Alameda Trail.  Somehow this is an acceptable proposition for the City right now.  But it should not be an acceptable condition for the Rec and Park Commission whose biking constituency will be unceremoniously dumped from protected bike lane to protected bike lane and expected to fend for themselves in a crazy busy stretch of street.

Sources say that the funding, the $2.9 million from grants and Measure B money was supposed to be spent on the Cross Alameda Trail from Sherman all the way to Webster, but the renderings for discussion tonight only speak to the Cross Alameda Trail portion that runs through the Open Space land ending at Constitution where, arguably, the need for a safe bike connection is the most needed.

Someone on the Rec and Park Commission needs to push back to staff to say, “wait a sec, what about the gap connection?”  isn’t this an important part of the plans?  Because staff’s current solution, per the report is sharrows:

The Cross Alameda Trail design addresses the bicycle and pedestrian pathways; minimal landscaping; and entry plazas.  It also includes the “gap closure” that connects the CAT from the corner of Constitution Way and Atlantic Avenue to the CAT along Ralph Appezzato Memorial Parkway.  The gap closure will include improved ADA access for the traffic signals plus sharrows, which is a street marking that is placed in the travel lane to indicate where people should preferably cycle.


So for those that don’t know what sharrows are, they are this.  You’ll find them all over and are typically fine on streets like Santa Clara which is sort of the de facto bike boulevard on the West End because Central is a cluster for bikes.  Just like you wouldn’t pop a sharrow on Central between Webster and Main and call it a day, the City also shouldn’t be considering a sharrow as a solution for Atlantic between Webster and Constitution either.  It’s ridiculous and defeats the whole purpose of a safe bicycle pathway that will connect Sweeney Open Space Park with the CAT running along RAMP.

Perhaps staff should consider value engineering the plazas and pretty stuff for the Sweeney Open Space portion of the CAT and instead put the money into some realistic connections on the most important part of the CAT, the connection between the two relatively easy and straightforward portions.


  1. Thank you for pointing out this (terrible) oversight! That is a really busy, car-centric block that would be very dangerous, and super scary, for cyclists to try to brave a “sharrow” (learned a new word today!). The designers, planners and engineers need to try a little harder to come up with a better solution. I will try to send a note to the Commissioners today.

    Comment by Dya — October 8, 2015 @ 9:31 am

  2. The options in this section were permanently constrained when the City Council removed part of the transit right-of-way (ROW) in the street and curb section of Atlantic when it approved the Walgreens-Starbucks shopping plaza over 15 years ago. ( I have heard that the reason was to provide sufficient parking spaces there to approve the project.)

    To provide adequate ROW now for bike lanes in the street–particularly buffered lanes, which are much preferred in high traffic volume applications like Atlantic and Appezzato, I think the curbs would have to be moved and all the drainage re-engineered, which is a huge expense.

    Sharrows *do not* provide as much of a notification to drivers that cyclists belong in the roadway with cars as bike lanes, even when properly placed–and the shadows would have to be in the middle of the traffic lane to work in this location, because cyclists will need to “control” or “take” the curbside lane to be safe for this block–just as you should now, without shadows or other markings.

    Cyclists need to remember this, though: paint provides cyclists with *no* protection from impact. Ever. Only riding defensively–or staying out of the traffic flow on a separated path–will do that.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — October 8, 2015 @ 10:06 am

  3. So is there a cost-effective solution other than/better than sharrows?

    Comment by dave — October 8, 2015 @ 11:00 am

  4. I woke up this morning thinking I lived in a town with a bicycle draw-bridge.

    Now we are “Permanently Constrained” by a Starbucks. My neighbor’s house has had three different addresses in Alameda and was threatened with eminent domain a third time. Please. Eliminate some curb-cuts, eliminate some parking spaces, eliminate some buildings. Every option is on the table.

    One of the things I miss is riding my bike through the Naval Air Station to San Fransisco. Hope the CAT will eventually provide access.

    Comment by Gerard L. — October 8, 2015 @ 11:29 am

  5. This connection is even more important because the Public Works department is leaning towards leaving an even worse gap on the Central Ave. complete street plan between Webster and 8th. There is absolutely no need for two eastbound travel lanes PLUS a long turning lane on this block of Atlantic. Most of the eastbound traffic on RAMP turns north onto Webster and most of the rest turns south onto Webster. Leaving one through lane at that intersection to accomodate a two way cycle track for this overbuilt section of roadway is not too much to ask.
    Between this and the shaft the Cross Alameda Trail took on Clement from Grand to Broadway, Alameda is really showing it is not committed to alternate modes of transportation if it has any effect on the convenience, real or even perceived, for cars.

    Comment by BMac — October 8, 2015 @ 12:48 pm

  6. “Cyclists need to remember this, though: paint provides cyclists with *no* protection from impact. ”

    Words to live by Jon Spangler…Maybe even for cars and Walkers also…..Maybe they need to start repaving all the streets instead of this new nifty spray paint they put on the streets and just paint over the ruts and chuckholes and give it new stripes.

    Wonder what percentage of street blocks have been repaved in last 20 years?

    Comment by Cobalt Black Keys Johnson — October 8, 2015 @ 5:15 pm

  7. 6. You’re referring to Oakland right?

    Comment by MI — October 8, 2015 @ 7:10 pm

  8. We can thank our fine city for letting the Belt Line sell off its property between Webster and Constitution decades ago as the source of this bottleneck! So much for long rang planning, wish Jean Sweeny could have started her quest to enforce the original buy back option 20+ years earlier. This CAT gap mess result was created by city hall decades ago.

    Comment by Thomas — October 12, 2015 @ 8:03 am

  9. BMac, I agree with your post#5,, I think there is room on that block to do the bike lanes and not have it be to crowded. There is no parking on that side already. [

    Comment by John P. — October 12, 2015 @ 10:28 am

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