Bike to Work Day in the East Bay broke records once again yesterday, with ten mayors, dozens of council members, and over 17,000 participants riding — an overall 22 percent increase across the East Bay. The record-breaking number of elected officials riding in included the mayors of Albany, Berkeley, Piedmont, Dublin, Fremont, Emeryville, Hayward, Richmond, and Union City.
“It’s great to see so many of our local elected officials out riding on Bike to Work Day and setting an example,” said Renee Rivera, executive director of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition (EBBC). “They understand the benefits of bike commuting, and they’ve directed city resources to help make bicycling viable as an everyday means of transportation.”
The largest ridership increase was seen in Pleasanton at 40 percent more than last year, followed by Alameda at 29 percent and Emeryville at 17 percent. In Berkeley, more bicycles than cars passed by lower Sproul Plaza for the first time yesterday morning, according to the EBBC. “This a doubling of bike mode share at Cal,” the EBBC wrote on its website, noting that Berkeley has the country’s fourth-highest bike mode share at 8 percent, according to the American Commute Survey.
Oakland has the eighth-largest Bike to Work Day in the United States, according to the Alliance for Biking and Walking. The free pancake breakfast in front of Oakland City Hall yesterday drew over 600 people who were greeted with free valet bicycle parking and tote bags before mingling and enjoying breakfast in the sunshine.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan rode eight miles to downtown from deep in East Oakland. Her bike convoy joined up with District 5 Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente’s at the Fruitvale BART station before riding near a section of East 12th Street, where new bike lanes were approved on Tuesday by Oakland’s Public Works Committee along with three other projects:
- East 12th Street from 14th Avenue to Fruitvale Avenue (1.4 miles)
- Broadway from 38th Street to Broadway Terrace (0.9 miles)
- MacArthur Boulevard from Mills College to Seminary Avenue (0.6 miles)
- Ardley, from 30th Street to MacArthur Boulevard (0.3 miles)
The bike lanes were approved with no opposition at the hearing to removing traffic lanes and parking, according to the EBBC, which said neighborhood surveys found an approval rating of over 70 percent for the projects. Jason Patton, Oakland’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Program manager, said the victory signifies “a culture change taking place in Oakland.”
“Oakland is making much better use of super-wide roadways in ways that better serve its unique neighborhoods for pedestrians and bicyclists alike,” said Dave Campbell, program director for the EBBC, which pushed for the projects along with Walk Oakland Bike Oakland in their Oakland Bikeways Campaign.
The projects are all expected to be completed in 2013, and three of them will be coordinated with scheduled re-pavings. Also approved by the committee, the EBBC noted, were $75,000 for more bike racks throughout Oakland and $75,000 for new bike-friendly storm grates that are easy to roll over.
By the time Bike to Work Day rolls around again in 2013, Oakland is expected to get its first bike station near the 19th Street BART station, like the one in Downtown Berkeley, Council Member Rebecca Kaplan announced to cheers yesterday. Mayor Quan also said she’s interested in bringing bike-share to Oakland, likely centered around BART stations.
“This is Oakland’s 160th birthday, and we will finish our 100th mile of bike lanes this year,” said Quan. “We have a need for some real celebration here.”