Sweet Mitigation: Protected Bike Lanes on 27th

Oakland got a developer to build a protected bike lane--can this become the norm for mitigation on big projects?

The first developer-funded protected bike lane comes to Oakland. All photos Streetsblog/Rudick
The first developer-funded protected bike lane comes to Oakland. All photos Streetsblog/Rudick

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A new, protected bike lane is now open on 27th Street in Oakland between Broadway and Valdez. It was constructed by the developer of the adjacent housing project as a mitigation measure. It’s just one block long, but it could represent a breakthrough in how protected bike lanes are built and funded.

“As the additional developments down toward Harrison Street are completed, the bikeway will be extended on that side of the street, and OakDOT will do a similar treatment themselves in the other direction. Eventually the 27th Street protected lanes should connect up with additional protected lanes at Harrison and Telegraph on each end,” explained Bike East Bay’s Robert Prinz.

This project used more robust, __ posts, rather than silly straws (so-called "safe hit posts")
This project used more robust-looking plastic bollards, rather than silly straws (so-called “safe hit posts”)

The new development also includes some nice pedestrian plazas and crossings made safer by eliminating dangerous automobile cut-throughs at Valdez and 27th.

The new pedestrian plaza, where once wide roads and a cut through helped push through cars at high speeds
The new pedestrian plaza, where once wide roads and a cut-through encouraged high speeds

Streetsblog has emails and calls out to the developer, the Hanover Company in Houston, Texas and to the City of Oakland, to find out how much the protected bike lane cost, and will update this post accordingly. Meanwhile, a contact at the city sent us a short email to say “We asked [the developer to build it] and they said yes!”

“It’s just paint and plastic, so it shouldn’t cost more than about $10,000…developers have never said ‘no’ when I’ve asked them if they’d build a protected bike lane,” said Bike East Bay’s David Campbell. “They say, ‘I’m happy to do that if OakDOT wants me to do it.'”

Campbell said, as far as he knows, this is the first example in the East Bay of a protected bike lane being funded by developers. A developer in Alameda funded a protected bike lane, but they also had to build an entire street and sidewalk, so it’s a little less applicable. In San Francisco, some protected bike lanes have been funded in a general sense as part of city “impact fees” charged to developers, but “as far as I know, there’s no one-offs in San Francisco because that’s just not how our developer fees work,” explained the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Janice Li.

As Prinz said, the developer-built bike lane in front of the new building on 27th won’t be the end of the story. Hanover is also funding bike lanes on the opposite side of the street, and the development next door, between Valdez and Harrison (which is currently a big hole in the ground), is supposed to do likewise in front of its property.

An Uber/Lyft picked up a passenger on the far side of the parking lane--so no bike lane blocked for a change
An Uber/Lyft picked up a passenger on the far side of the parking lane–so for a change no bike lane was blocked

And another developer-funded bike lane is coming a few miles away, along the Oakland estuary. “The next one is part of the Brooklyn Basin project,” added Campbell. “They rebuilt the road there and I think they’re getting ready to open it in June.” The Brooklyn Basin project, which will house some 3,000 people, was originally going to have two lanes of car and truck traffic in each direction. Instead, thanks to Bike East Bay’s advocacy (and an assist from Streetsblog!) OakDOT asked the developer to turn one lane in each direction into protected bike and scooter infrastructure. “That should be only the second developer-built, protected bike lane,” said Campbell.

This is all great news–and more so if it becomes the norm with construction projects. Streetsblog would be remiss, however, not to point out one potentially serious flaw with the protected bike lane on 27th: at the intersection with Valdez, there’s a big purple “no parking” zone to increase visibility at the intersection–something that’s essential with a parking-protected bike lane, to prevent right hooks. Unfortunately, a UPS driver decided to use it as a parking spot, and I was almost clipped by a truck turning right from 27th onto Valdez. OakDOT or the developer need to put bollards and/or planters in that purple zone to make sure nobody blocks the sightlines, even for a moment.

This purple "daylight" zone needs bollards or planters, or the intersection with Valdez becomes dangerous
This purple “daylight” zone needs bollards or planters, or the intersection at Valdez becomes dangerous
IMG_20190507_113340
Some bollards have to be placed where this truck is parked, pronto

Campbell said Portland was the first city’s he is aware of that started asking developers to fund protected bike lanes next to their projects; Oakland and Bike East Bay learned of this strategy at the last conference of the National Association of City Transportation Officials. Protected bike lanes are cheap–a little more than a rounding error on a multi-million dollar project. Compared with the millions developers have paid to mitigate congestion under the old “Level of Service” regime, developers would be silly to balk at installing some bollards.

  • KJ

    Fantastic 🙂

  • There’s a lot of new housing being built around the Macarthur Bart station, and yet I see no evidence of any bicycle infrastructure being built around this huge new transit-oriented development. Macarthur Bart station should be a Hub for bike routes, but as it is now there aren’t any safe bike options to get there.

  • p_chazz

    Because of the ongoing homeless situation I wonder how long the “nice pedestrian plazas” will remain nice. It probably won’t be long before it is overrun. Sad.

  • Pdad

    Emeryville required the Marketplace project developer to install protected bike lanes and green stormwater infrastructure along Shellmound Street last year. I call them “Stormwater Cycletracks”. There are two in Emeryville – the other is on Christie Ave next to Trader Joe’s – and the City paid for that one with help from a grant from Alameda CTC. I hope that Oakland and other jurisdictions will install vegetated stormwater treatment facilities in the barrier area of protected bike lanes. They can also use pervious pavement in the bikeway and trees can be planted in the barrier areas as well. There are lots of ways to integrate stormwater treatment with bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Public works paved the roadway to the left, but left the bike lanes full of cracks, dangerous furrows, potholes, and other defects. All photos Streetsblog/Rudick unless noted.

City Lets Cargo Way Protected Bike Lane Fall Apart

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As cyclists who use Cargo Way in the Hunters Point/Bayview neighborhood know all too well, the bike lane, once celebrated as San Francisco's first on-street protected bike lane, is in a state of disrepair, with broken pavement, a dangerous, tire-grabbing groove, and a busted fence. And in a stark display of how some city officials regard bicycle safety, the city repaved the adjacent car/truck lanes in August, but skipped the bike lane.