Tomorrow: Oakland Drops Protected Bike Lanes on Telegraph Avenue

Oakland’s recommended plan for Telegraph Avenue includes no bike lanes near the freeway ramps at 51st Street. Image: City of Oakland

Oakland has dropped protected bike lanes from its draft proposals to redesign Telegraph Avenue, and the buffered bike lanes that are included would disappear at the most dangerous section, throwing people on bikes into mixed traffic with motor vehicles. The city will hold two open houses this week where the public can weigh in on the draft plan [PDF], on Thursday evening and Saturday morning.

“New bikeways need to be ‘continuous’ and not force you to continually mix with cars and trucks that travel up to 35-40 mph,” wrote Dave Campbell of Bike East Bay in a blog post. “Buffered bike lanes improve the experience and make it safer for people who currently bicycle and want to ride on Telegraph Avenue, but buffered bike lanes between parked cars and moving cars do not attract new people to bicycling or encourage others to replace one or two car trips a week with a bicycle trip.”

Bike East Bay is urging people to attend the workshops and tell planners they want continuous protected bike lanes along Telegraph. They are also calling on the city to create a pilot project for protected bike lanes using temporary paint and planters materials, similar to the block-long demonstration the organization created on Bike to Work Day.

When Oakland city planners held initial workshops on Telegraph “Complete Streets” project in the spring, a few local business owners complained about losing on-street parking spots, but much of the public strongly supported a much calmer, safer street for walking and biking.

city survey of people who use Telegraph found that 60 percent wanted protected bike lanes on the street, including 53 percent of “frequent drivers.” The city initially included parking-protected bike lanes as an option for most of Telegraph, but that option is apparently being abandoned.

The latest plans [PDF] include improvements to pedestrian crossings, raised medians, bike boxes, and bus stops configured so the bike lane runs between a boarding island and the sidewalk. But the bike lanes disappear completely where they’re needed most, near the intersection at 51st Street where drivers heading to and from Highway 24 ramps cuts through the area.

At most intersections, like Telegraph and MacArthur seen here, bike lanes become protected briefly at bus stops but then throw riders between parked cars and moving cars. Image: City of Oakland
  • Caleb

    Where’s the bikeway? Moreover, where’s the busway? This is why BRT gets such a bad reputation, because the end implementation often gets watered down to oblivion.

    Why bother with a Telegraph redesign if everything is going to be thrown out? Let’s just call this project it what it really is: repaving with a light sprinkling of curb bulb-outs.

  • shotwellian

    This is not a BRT project. The east bay BRT project currently in the works is from downtown Oakland to San Leandro.

  • Gezellig
  • Jeffrey Baker

    At the spring meeting I attended, I specifically asked the guy (can’t remember his name) if all of the input and feedback the public was providing could just be thrown out by some bureaucrat, just like they did for Latham Square. I was vaguely assured that the plan was going to strongly reflect the views of the majority of attendees but here we are, with a final draft plan bearing no resemblance to the option preferred by the public.

    Sooooo many problems here.

    1: What’s going on at 56th street? They appear to have configured it so that eastbound CA24 cars have to turn across the bike lane on to the ramp, instead of merging with the bike lane and turning. Lots of people will die here.

    2: Getting rid of the crosswalk at 50th? Seriously? Have any of these jokers BEEN to Telegraph Alley lately? There are a thousand skinny-pantsed hipsters per hour crossing here, and they’ve moved it a block away. The only possible justification could be that it would interfere with the bus stop, but even that would be a weak excuse.

    3: At 52nd they’ve got it rigged so bikes have to dodge inside the bus island, but then merge left into traffic, and then around traffic, because many of those cars are going to be stopped/stuck waiting to turn on 52nd to get on the freeway.

    4: The bulbouts are not even bulbouts! They’re paint!

  • ClaireB

    This is so disappointing.

  • Manhattanize SF

    What a weird design. This seems like a grand compromise that accommodates no one. What’s the AADT? Do you really need two lanes in each direction and a TWLT??

  • Oakland has a really bad new car loving planner, the one who allowed cars in the pedestrian plaza despite community outrage. I’m thinking this has something to do with this dangerous decision.

    Perhaps they will get enough comments to change this or a new, progressive mayor will support doing the right thing here.

  • Right? For as progressive as I thought Oakland was, I’m surprised we’re having such a contentious debate about putting bike lanes on Telegraph.

    And, as a biker, the design with all those sharrows and semi-protected bike lanes, looks confusing. I’m sure I’d figure it out once on it…but why not just put a continuous bike lane down and call it a day?

  • Oakland Logic

    The only thing I can think of is they want to turn Broadway into the biking path and Telegraph into the throughfare. One needs to be 4 lanes and discourage bikes to alleviate traffic issues and safety problems. The other should be super bike friendly. Pick one and go with it (seems Telegraph makes more sense, but what do i know)

  • Jeffrey Baker

    That doesn’t make much sense since Broadway doesn’t get you anywhere (for example, it doesn’t get you to Berkeley). You get to the end of Broadway and you’re nowhere.

  • Prinzrob

    I’d say both Broadway and Telegraph are essential to the Oakland bike network, since they both connect to a significant number of distinct business and residential areas. The delayed but imminent Broadway bikeway plan is designed, funded, approved, and ready to go, whereas the Telegraph project is neither fully designed, funded, nor approved.

  • shotwellian

    Her previous planning job was in Abu Dhabi, not exactly a city known for its progressive planning…

  • Eric Fischer

    Total north-south AADT on Telegraph in the Temescal is about 17,000 through vehicles plus about 1500 turns, so if I understand the math correctly, it ought to be OK either with fewer lanes or without the turn lane.

  • Prinzrob

    Not that I agree, but the justification given for the multiple lanes and sharrows in the Temescal section of Telegraph was that removing travel lanes would 1) slow the AC Transit bus lines which run through the corridor and 2) back up car traffic turning onto 51st Street to access the Hwy 24 on-ramp.

    At the community meeting held on the project last night there were representatives from AC Transit present to talk about some of the mitigations that could be made via stop relocation and traffic signal prioritization to keep the buses moving smoothly. However, with no funding allocated for the plan yet they were afraid these mitigations would get cut as part of the final project, and with little community outreach on stop relocation/consolidation yet they are also worried about the potential backlash from individuals and transit user groups.

    As for the car traffic concerns, I got the feeling from staff that they would be willing to accept the additional congestion as long as they have support from the public and city council, which looks pretty likely.

  • Prinzrob

    Last night’s community meeting on this project got a big turnout, with nearly everyone in favor of continuous bike lanes throughout the project area, and a lot of good discussion about what it would take to implement physically protected bikeways for most of Telegraph. AC Transit staff and riders were on hand to talk about what trade offs would be needed to implement great bike facilities without slowing the buses on this segment to a crawl, a lot of which means money and public support for bus stop relocation/consolidation as well as traffic signal prioritization.

    Representatives from city council and staff all seemed open to discuss what would be required to implement a continuous, protected bikeway on Telegraph, but I’m rather frustrated anyway .This community process already happened in the first phase of the project but the clear mandate for a continuous, protected bikeway that came out of that process was wholly ignored in the draft plan with not nearly enough justification. What’s to say that this round of outreach won’t just be similarly ignored again, and even if it isn’t then having staff go back to the drawing board on a plan they already spent so much time on is a huge waste of resources for Oakland.

  • Oakland Logic

    Won’t disagree, but taking the only two major 4 lane roads out of downtown to two to accomodate bikes would be virtually unprecedented in US cities

  • Prinzrob

    Telegraph would be going from 4 to 3 (including a new center turn lane), but Broadway is going from 6 to 4 to accommodate bike lanes. In both cases the traffic studies largely show excess capacity via existing conditions.

    Also, in terms of “major roads out of downtown” you are completely ignoring the freeways, which is what most drivers should be using instead of surface streets, if they do not have destinations along the way.

  • jr

    Telegraph would be 5 lanes to 3 lanes. The left turn lane already exists.

  • Matt Chambers

    Well, Broadway gets you from the waterfront to College Ave and Piedmont Ave which is very much somewhere. Using 980 and 24 instead isn’t always worth the effort. NB Broadway at 51st/Pleasant Valley is always backed up in the afternoon. Broadway at MacArthur is congested in all directions most of the day. Broadway is very much a major roadway.

  • Matt Chambers

    I don’t remember seeing outrage at the meetings. I remember disagreement.

  • Prinzrob

    You are right about Telegraph, thanks for the correction. Definitely not going down to 2 lanes, though.

    On a side note, it’s curious how we don’t count the bike lanes in any of these calculations. With the bike lanes the Telegraph proposal actually takes it from 5 to 5. Broadway would be 6 to 6.


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