Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless otherwise stated in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys will not be consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content.
After a heated discussion that lasted into the evening, the Oakland City Council voted 8-0 for Telegraph protected bicycle lanes to be permanently set up in the KONO district from the 20th to the 29th. The other option, which was strongly opposed by the council, was to remove the protected bike lanes and install more typical and historically less safe buffered bike lanes between moving traffic and parked cars.
“I think this vote will help make safety a priority on projects well beyond Oakland,” Dave Campbell of Bike East Bay told Streetsblog.
Not that other aspects weren’t discussed during the hour-long meeting. Councilor Carroll Fife, whose district includes the KONO cycle lanes, requested data to support some of the claims made by opponents about protected cycle lanes. For example, she wanted numbers to back up a claim, made primarily by the Community Benefits District, that infrastructure was affecting local dealers’ sales. “It has been alleged that the bike path has an impact on sales tax in the area,” she said.
Oakland DOT CEO Ryan Russo, who backed less safe buffered bike lanes, couldn’t give a definitive answer given the many other factors affecting sales in 2020.
“So there is no data?” Asked Fife rhetorically.
Thank you to Oakland City Council for unanimous support for safe, protected bike paths on Telegraph Avenue. Thank you everyone for your efforts and support #oakmtg
– Bike East Bay (@BikeEastBay) July 7, 2021
Russo also claimed that protected bike lanes at intersections also became “unprotected” – and that there were many intersections on the route with poor sight lines that made protection problematic. However, the council members were quick to ask the obvious questions: Can this be countered by improving lines of sight at intersections? And aren’t there the same conflicts with buffered cycle paths, depending on how the intersections are designed?
“When we build buffered bike paths, we still need the view in the opposite direction so that someone coming from back roads doesn’t block the view,” said Russo. “In the end you have the same thing.” And protected intersections, which continue the physical protection for cyclists through as much of the intersection as possible, while slowing turning speeds and improving lines of sight, have not been considered, although they are featured in the designs at key intersections (see scheme below).
There was also an argument put forward by Darlene Flynn, of the Oakland Department of Race and Equity, that protected bike lanes put disproportionate strain on the mostly minority-owned businesses on the street, presumably due to the loss of parking and loading areas. However, it was unclear how this applied to the choice between protected bike lanes and buffered bike lanes – which Oaklands DOT promised not to be used for parking or loading thanks to a “curb management” plan. Overall, both scenarios have the same number of parking and loading spaces.
As Fife and other Council members also pointed out, what about the burden of bus drivers and cyclists from a disproportionate minority who are more likely to be injured or killed by buffered lanes?
A schematic of the now fully approved design. OakDOT over Bike East Bay
“Protected bike paths would help customers; would help them get to the store more safely, ”said Sheng Thao, city council member of the 4th district. “It’s about helping people who are less privileged, like people who don’t have a car, use their bikes, or drive AC Transit – the majority of whom are black or brown and are senior citizens. For me, it’s about addressing and empowering those who are less privileged. “
“The overwhelming AC Transit passengers and operators are mostly colored and they have voiced their concerns. I want to make sure these needs are not overlooked, ”said Rebecca Kaplan, general councilor for Oakland.
The protected cycle path configuration was unanimously endorsed by the Oakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission, the Public Works Committee and the AC Transit Board ahead of the city council vote on Tuesday evening.
The protected bike paths on Telegraph were part of a pilot project launched in 2016. However, due to ongoing discussions and delays, the “pilot” landed in the ground much longer than intended. Posts have been corrupted. Paint is worn out. And the overall picture of the initially not so great configuration deteriorated.
A look at one of the many early pilot configurations: in this case a temporary Oakland bus stop on Telegraph Avenue with modular plastic components. Many found such configurations confusing and ugly. Photo: TransitCenter
“The states that people saw: the messy, half-broken things and the planters – that’s not the suggested state,” Kaplan said. “We have to learn a lesson from this experience that I think some of the opposition were based on seeing a rough implementation, a poorly explained implementation, and seeing these temporary plastic devices being pushed around and thinking that is being suggested . “
The fixed installation depicted in the mission statement should be aesthetically much more appealing and certainly less confusing, emphasized supporters.
Meanwhile, Oakland’s decision to make protected bike lanes permanent may have an impact on projects across the country. “I got notes from Washington DC that said ‘Congratulations on the Telegraph,'” Campbell said. “I heard from a source that other projects are being re-evaluated or paused because Oakland was with Telegraph.” These projects, too, he expects, are now moving forward thanks to Oakland’s commitment.
As can be seen in the construction timeline above, the final configuration will be built next year.