Cyndy Johnsen (glasses) and Lucy Gigli in the coffee shop “office” of BikeWalk Alameda. Photo: Streetsblog.
There are few places in the Bay Area where the expression “you can’t get there from here” more aptly applies. Stand at the estuary at Jack London Square, and one can see the west Alameda piers clearly, just a half-mile away. But try to get there and it turns into a two-mile-plus circuitous trek that requires back tracking towards Oakland to the entrance of the tunnels. By bike or on foot, it means a miserable, loud, and uncomfortable journey through the Posey Tube, with its narrow sidewalk and railing.
“We know a bridge is the only solution that is really going to solve Alameda’s west-end traffic problem,” said Lucy Gigli, President of the volunteer organization BikeWalkAlameda, in a meeting with Streetsblog at Julie’s Coffee & Tea Garden on Park Street, one of the organization’s unofficial offices. “It’s the most favorable solution that will meet the long term goals.”
That’s why Gigli, Cyndy Johnsen (another advocate and volunteer with the group), and BikeEastBay are pushing for a bike and pedestrian bridge across the estuary–one similar to the Bay Farm Island Bicycle Bridge, which spans the San Leandro Bay inlet to the Oakland Estuary. That bridge, which was completed in 1995, is roughly 860 feet long and cost $3.5 million. It is also the only bike-and-pedestrian drawbridge in the U.S. The bridge to Jack London would be longer, of course, and, according to an initial study, would cost roughly $60 million. “People say it’s too expensive, but people don’t really know; some say if it’s just for bikes and peds, who’s going to use it?” said Johnsen.
But the arguments for building the bridge are clearly delineated in BikeWalkAlameda’s material:
- The Posey Tube/Oakland Connection is identified as the number one priority in the City of Alameda Bicycle Master Plan.
- Pedestrians and bicyclists are limited to the Posey Tube walkway, which is so narrow that it cannot accommodate wheelchairs, bike trailers, or two passing bikes even with the increased width created in 2016.
- Tube capacity is limited and congestion is growing.
- A ride or walk through the Tube exposes one to sooty walls and smelly, toxic fumes.
- For this short crossing, bus access is limited and costly ($2.10); the bus capacity for bicyclists is limited to only two or three bikes per bus.
- During peak hours, bike racks are often full, which makes the service unreliable for bicyclists.
- The bus and shuttles do not provide alternatives to the tubes and are subject to traffic delays.
- The Estuary Crossing and Target shuttles have limited hours and 30-minute headways.
From the shoreline of Jack London Square, west Alameda is tantalizingly close, but getting there by bike or foot is an ordeal. Photo: Streetsblog.