Yesterday, on the Bay Area’s 20th Bike to Work Day, Bike East Bay and Walk Oakland Bike Oakland demonstrated what a block of Telegraph Avenue would look and feel like with a parking-protected bike lane. Without help from the city’s Public Works Department (but with city approval), the two advocacy groups created temporary bike infrastructure by painting green lanes and bike stencils, putting down planters, and turning the adjacent traffic lane into a parking lane.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan was joined by City Council Members Rebecca Kaplan, Dan Kalb, and Lynette McElhaney, as well as several city planners and engineers on a test run of the lanes, all of whom generally gave it a big thumbs up. One city engineer, after riding the lane, said, “I want this, right now!”
Mayor Quan said “this demo is very helpful to see what Telegraph Avenue could look like with a protected bikeway,” according to a press release from Bike East Bay. “I’m very interested in seeing how the project develops.”
Quan rode from MacArthur BART station on a borrowed bike from Bay Area Bike Share to celebrate the system’s expansion into the East Bay expected next spring. “Oakland is regularly ranked in the top 10 U.S. cities for the percentage of our commuters who cycle, and we’re committed to maintaining that leadership role and building on our successes,” she said in a statement, noting that she lobbied for the BABS expansion.
Oakland is considering parking-protected bike lanes in a redesign of Telegraph, and residents are encouraged to weigh in by May 19. The proposed designs are available on the city’s website, and this comment card [PDF] can be filled out and sent to planner Jamie Parks.
Yesterday’s Bike to Work Day was officially the 20th anniversary celebration of bike commutes in the nine-county Bay Area, although it’s actually Oakland’s 21st event. Oakland saw an increase of 30 percent more riders in Oakland over last year, based on a count of the number of people who checked in at Bike to Work Day energizer stations. In the entire East Bay, including all of Alameda and Contra Costa counties, BEB counted close to 20,000 bike commuters.
Of course, at the end of the block-long temporary protected lane, riders were dumped right back into the present-day reality of Telegraph: fending for themselves in lanes with motor traffic.