Alameda’s Second Parking-Protected Bikeway Takes Shape on Shoreline Drive

Alameda’s Shoreline Drive was just striped with a new, 1.8-mile parking-protected bikeway. Image: Robert Prinz, Bike East Bay

The East Bay’s island city of Alameda has laid down its second parking-protected bikeway along Shoreline Drive.

The paint has barely dried on the 1.8-mile, two-way bikeway, but Alamedans are already using it. The city is adding finishing touches before a ribbon cutting set for March 7. Bike East Bay Education Coordinator Robert Prinz, a former Streetsblog intern, captured the below time lapse video showing a roll down the bikeway.

It’s one of only a handful of parking-protected bikeways in the Bay Area, and the first to be installed since SF’s John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park was striped in 2012.

“We really think of this as our first complete street,” said Lucy Gigli of Bike Walk Alameda. “There’s vehicle travel, there’s wonderful bike lanes now, and the path and sidewalk are so much more comfortable for people walking.”

Like other parking-protected bikeways in cities like New York, the Shoreline project uses paint and concrete islands, with a car parking lane between the bikeway and the motor traffic lanes. A buffer zone allows for room to safely open car doors. The curbside bikeway runs along Alameda’s beach and next to a major shopping center (surrounded, unfortunately, by a giant parking lot). 

In addition to making the street comfortable to bike on for people of all ages and abilities, the road diet shortened the distance for people to cross the road on foot. Gigli said the redesign already seems to have calmed car traffic. Also included were bus boarding islands, which separate bus passengers from bike traffic. Similar boarding areas have recently been installed along other bus routes in Alameda.

Because this stretch of Shoreline lacks cross streets, planners didn’t have to grapple with designing a safe way for drivers to turn across the bikeway. Gigli said that simplicity made the street “somewhat of a low-hanging fruit” for a protected bikeway design.

Alameda’s 1999 plans for Shoreline originally called for conventional, unprotected bike lanes. Safe streets advocates pushed the city several years ago to draw up a safer design, Gigli said.

Of course, the process of planning and winning support for a still-novel parking-protected bikeway design on Shoreline bikeway didn’t come without opposition. Naysayers made many of the same complaints heard about SF’s JFK — that it would be too confusing, that the lanes would be too narrow for cars, and that some people didn’t want to have to share the bikeway with slower-moving children.

“There are very few negatives to this project,” said Gigli, “unless you consider driving at the speed limit a negative.”

As for how to park on the new Shoreline design, drivers also seem to have quickly gotten the idea, unlike the confusion after the installation of the JFK bikeway. Drivers on JFK still sometimes encroach on the bike lanes, but drivers on Shoreline so far have been seen parking correctly. Gigli pointed out that Alameda used parking “T” markings to denote parking spaces, which could be more intuitive than JFK’s solid lane stripes.

Gigli said city planners held several community meetings to plan Shoreline “that really allowed the community to talk and talk, and allowed us as biking and walking advocates to explain what these new things, these protected bike lanes would do.” By the last meeting, “every single community table said [they wanted] protected bike lanes.”

Alameda is moving ahead with more protected bike lanes, with both two-way designs and one-way designs. The city has launched community planning processes to redesign Clement Avenue and to convert a defunct railway into a crosstown protected biking and walking path.

Alameda, where kids can regularly be seen bicycling in the streets, installed its first parking-protected bikeway in 2008 on Fernside Boulevard along Lincoln Middle School. It leads to the Bay Farm bridge, the only drawbridge exclusively for biking and walking in the U.S.

Parking-protected bikeways with similar designs are also planned on Oakland’s Telegraph Avenue, SF’s 13th StreetSecond Street, Bay Street, and other streets in the Bay Area.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that my wife and I  just moved to Alameda. I’m still car-free and in the city most days, and Streetsblog SF’s coverage will continue to focus on SF.

  • Hmm, a new focus on Alameda- how surprising, Aaron! 😉

  • Prinzrob

    Great coverage, thanks Aaron! Fernside Blvd, JFK Drive, and now Shoreline Drive were great locations to introduce these facilities, as they all have few intersections and some natural boundaries that restrict cross-traffic. I’ll be extra interested to see how the next wave of parking-protected bikeways on other Bay Area streets fare, as they become more complex but simultaneously more useful as part of the urban bike network.

    It’s also interesting to note the short raised portion of the Shoreline Drive cycletrack addressing some ADA concerns, enabling sidepath users to cross over the cycletrack to a bus boarding island, as well as the rubber wheel stops that separate the bike and car traffic on the non-parking protected portions of the Shoreline facility. Flexible bollards are more visible than the wheel stops but don’t last very long, whereas the wheel stops are more durable but rather low profile. Any thoughts on which is better, or is it better to just focus on curbs and planters in the long run?

  • baklazhan

    I wish that this was the design used for JFK.

  • Nary a car door in sight.

    Would that it could be this way everywhere.

  • Did you see the scofflaw pedestrians walking in the bike lane at 39 sec??
    Those people and their strollers are out of control! I shake my tiny internet fist at them!

  • Prinzrob

    I took the video, and although there was a woman with a stroller accompanied by her daughter biking on training wheels in the path, I simply rang my bell and she moved over.

    I get that your comment is joking, but I have heard real complaints coming from other people about pedestrians on the path. The City of Alameda wanted to build a sidewalk on the west side of Westline Drive there where the stroller woman was, but didn’t have enough money in this project to cover it. They still hope to do so as part of a future upgrade, which I support as the real solution to getting pedestrians out of the bikeway. Until then people on bikes and on foot can just manage around one another respectfully, the same way they did for years on the even narrower shoreline trail.

  • SFnative74

    Nary a parked car in sight!

  • Curious

    Aaron – Why did you move to Alameda?

  • With the insane spike in rents over the last few years, my wife and I were finding few affordable options to improve our living situation in the city (we shared a studio). Like a growing number of others, we looked to the East Bay, and Alameda was simply our favorite place where we could find attractive options for housing and transportation (and getting better, as you can see). Be that as it may, I have no plans to stop working in (and working on) San Francisco.

  • Ouch. You know, I considered whether my silly statement was needed, but posted it anyway. (Mostly because it echoed a wingnut on nextdoor angry at those women with strollers who stand with their strollers ‘too close to the edge of the sidewalk–apparently ‘the sidewalk’ isn’t even safe for pedestrians, it’s the ‘right part of the sidewalk’.)

    I agree we should be able to share…and when there are a lack of adequate facilities people naturally will end up sharing anyway. might as well make it friendly.

  • Scott Mace

    I’ve lived in Alameda for two years. During that time, I’ve bicycled on Shoreline numerous times, controlling the right-hand lane and never been tailgated or honked at. A few weeks ago, while this two-way cycletrack was under construction and not in operation, I bicycled on the remaining motor vehicle lane northbound, and just a minute or two after I took the lane to stay out of the door zone, I was honked at by a motorist. Call me just another confident, educated bicyclist ‘taking one for the team’ putting these facilities on East Bay streets.

  • Guest

    Besides the point. What does that have to do with anything?

  • Justin

    Pretty cool to see this and it looks beautifully done as well. Clearly there are somethings SFMTA can learn from and do better when it comes to the design and construction of protected bike lanes, especially the parking protected ones, that can be used to minimize confusion. Looks like it fits into the street perfectly and looks like it has potential, be great to keep the momentum going.

  • Sprague

    Wow, this looks great. And what a nice car-free way to visit one of the Bay Area’s best (summertime warm water) swimming beaches.

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