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.