Alameda Advocates Continue Push for Alternative to Posey Hell Tunnel

Brian McGuire and Marisa Wood took the afternoon shift counting peds and cyclists on the Alameda end of the Posey tube. Photo: Streetsblog.
Brian McGuire and Marisa Wood took the afternoon shift counting pedestrians and cyclists at the Alameda end of the Posey tube. Photo: Streetsblog.

Advocate-volunteers with BikeWalk Alameda took shifts today counting cyclists and pedestrians passing through the Posey Tube on their way between western Alameda and Oakland. The count will be used to help push for a pedestrian and bicycle drawbridge between Alameda and Jack London Square, across the Alameda estuary.

“That’s the big, long term goal,” said Brian McGuire, vice-president of BikeWalk Alameda, who was out counting  during an afternoon shift. “That’s the number-one priority.”

Streetsblog readers will recall that several studies have been done, the first in 2006. That one was a response to the Alameda Landing developments, which would be a short bike ride from downtown Oakland and BART if not for the Alameda Estuary. The fear is that without walking and biking connections to the mainland, the tubes will eventually gridlock.

BART is so close, by the way, that one can hear the trains from the landing. But currently the only way across the estuary is by car or bus or by walking or biking the supposed bike/ped path attached to the wall of the Posey Tube.

When Streetsblog last checked in, Caltrans was upgrading this narrow bike and ped space and it was closed. It is now open, and if this is the improved version, it’s hard to imagine how it could have been worse. “The railing is new,” explained McGuire. “You’re slightly less likely to catch a handlebar. Either way, Caltrans should be ashamed from an access and standpoint point of view.”

Streetsblog encountered only one other cyclist in the lonely hellscape of the "improved" tube. Photo: Streetsblog
Streetsblog encountered only one other cyclist in the lonely hellscape of the “improved” tube. Photo: Streetsblog

It’s difficult to describe how awful the tunnel is between the roar of passing traffic, the filthy wall, and the ever-present soot and car exhaust. Streetsblog had to dismount and squeeze past another cyclist, because there isn’t enough room to pass. Plenty has been written about how bad this crossing is, but it’s difficult to appreciate without riding or walking it. As a cyclist who has ridden everywhere from Rotterdam to Tokyo, this is without question the most pathetic excuse for bicycle infrastructure I have ever seen.

It’s especially scandalous considering that the Posey tube bike and ped path is frequently used by students traveling between Laney College in Oakland and the College of Alameda, explained Marisa Wood, who was also out counting bikes and pedestrians.

This graffiti at the entrance to the Posey Tube walkway is on point. Photo: Streetsblog
This graffiti at the entrance to the Posey Tube walkway is on point. Photo: Streetsblog

It’s not surprising that McGuire and Wood only counted a handful of cyclists in the hour they were out. McGuire said most people either take the bus, drive, or bike out of their way to use the Park Street bridge to the east. “People from the middle of the island go to Park Street, even if it adds twenty or thirdy minutes to their bike ride,” he said. The advocates counted cyclists crossing at Park Street too and, said McGuire, they see far more there than at Posey. But there has been an increase in cycling at both locations over the past ten years.

The advocates, meanwhile, will use these numbers to show that a suitable crossing from western Alameda to Jack London and Oakland would have numbers at least as high as the Park Street bridge, which has a wide, reasonably inviting bike and pedestrian path. Meanwhile, Lucy Gigli, President/Advocacy Director and co-founder of BikeWalkAlameda, shared some rough calculations from today’s counts: she said there’s been a 65 percent increase over the past ten years in cycling through Posey, despite the noxious conditions in the tunnel.

pedfriendly
Pedestrian friendly? Well, maybe for a walk around the block inside the housing development. Photo: Streetsblog

On a related point, Streetsblog was dismayed to see developers boasting that the new Alameda Landing developments are “pedestrian friendly,” even though they are directly across the street from giant parking lots and wide intersections with five or six lanes and turning pockets. There are sidewalks at least, but Streetsblog didn’t see anyone using them, except for a woman taking groceries to her car.

How pedestrian friendly can a housing development be if it's across the street from giant parking lots and intersections such as this one? Photo: Streetsblog
How pedestrian-friendly can a housing development be if it’s across the street from strip malls with giant parking lots and intersections such as this one? Photo: Streetsblog

Streetsblog will wait for BikeWalk Alameda to finish its counts, but it’s pretty obvious that some kind of long-term solution–and a car-free drawbridge seems to be the best answer–is needed to allow pedestrians and cyclists to get between western Alameda and Oakland safely.

Meanwhile, the fact that the Posey path has remained the only way to bike or walk across for all these years shows that California has failed to adhere to even minimal pedestrian and bicycle standards.

McGuire and Wood counted the handful of cyclists brave, desperate or crazy enough to enter the tube to hell. Photo: Streetsblog
McGuire and Wood counted the handful of cyclists brave, desperate, or crazy enough to pass through the hell tube. Photo: Streetsblog

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