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Bicycle Infrastructure

Save Telegraph Protected Bike Lane

A cyclist protected by Oakland’s newly installed bollards on Telegraph in July of last year. Photos Streetsblog/Rudick

Note the call to action at the end of this post!

In an Oakland City Council meeting yesterday, Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney asked that at next week's meeting Oakland vote on taking "actions necessary ... to return the KONO Telegraph Avenue bike lanes to its previous configuration"--meaning without its protected bike lanes.

The request comes on the heels of a letter from Shari Godinez, Executive Director, Koreatown Northgate Community Benefit District (CBD), which represents merchants, expressing dissatisfaction with the street's parking-protected bike lanes, installed in 2016. The "...general consensus was that the best solution was to move parked cars back to the curb and place the bike lane next to the traffic lane. This would solve the visibility hazards in both directions, and also provide more space for all traffic, as well as eliminating parking confusion and restoring lost street parking," she wrote in the July 17 letter to Ed Reiskin, now City Administrator for Oakland, asking for the protected bike lanes to be removed.

Note that collisions are down 40 percent, merchants are making more money, and Telegraph is generally a safer street for all users since it received parking-protected bike-lanes, according to a detailed before-and-after study done by the city of Oakland in 2017. The study looked at real crash data and tax returns from businesses in the area.

According to Godinez, the CBD did its own study and found that of "...28 self-identified KONO business owners [responding] to the survey, opposition to the current bike lanes is strong: · 71 percent said their impact was negative, compared to 14 percent calling it positive · 67 percent said they had made cycling in KONO less safe, compared to 25 percent saying they made it safer · 33 percent of merchants said the bike lanes have had a negative impact on their businesses, and none reported a positive impact."

Of course, the city study dealt with actual data, and the CBD study is of impressions and opinions from people along the street.

That said, everyone seemed to agree the bike lanes in question are far from perfect--and Streetsblog has called out deficiencies in the designs more than once. But the city of Oakland is installing upgrades, including more robust-looking K71 bollards (as seen in the lead image and below) to solve many of the problems, such as blocked sight-lines created by motorists parking illegally.

An OakDOT crew this afternoon installing better bollards
An OakDOT crew this afternoon installing better bollards
An OakDOT crew this afternoon installing better bollards

There are also plans to add concrete separations and further improvements as resources become available. "They're working on existing lanes to create a more permanent design, which has been on the table the whole time," said Derek Sagehorn of the advocacy group East Bay For Everyone. "The more permanent design would prevent people from parking in the bike lanes."

Unfortunately, these safe hit posts previously installed did zip to stop scofflaw parkers from blocking sightlines
Unfortunately, these safe hit posts previously installed did zip to stop scofflaw parkers from blocking sightlines
This is protection? Protection from what exactly? Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

Oakland is also installing a separate segment of protected bike lane some 1.5 miles north on Telegraph in the Temescal neighborhood. At a council meeting near the end of 2018 about the Temescal designs, Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan argued that improvements should also be made to the KONO section, which the new bollards are in part a response to. McElhaney, at the time, also argued that it was important to upgrade the bike lanes on Telegraph in KONO.

In her recent reversal, however, McElhaney claimed in an email to OakDOT head Ryan Russo and others (forwarded to Streetsblog) that police crash data is "insufficient to talk about the harms done to this community." She asked the city to halt the improvements currently underway.

Sagehorn and others who spoke with Streetsblog pointed out that McElhaney is facing a tough re-election bid for the third district this November, and a merchants association on Telegraph represents a solid block of voters. McElhaney herself, meanwhile, did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Bike East Bay's Dave Campbell told Streetsblog he can't imagine the city council will support removing Telegraph's protected bike lanes, given the positive crash and merchant data, and the improvements currently underway. He pointed out that even according to the CBD's own KONO Bike lane survey (see page 6), a majority of respondents agree with moving forward with the bollard installation that's now underway. Once that's done, he invites a follow-up safety study that compares actual crash data and merchant receipts.

"Lynette is hearing from a lot of people," he said, adding that the council will probably just ask staff to do another report on the success of the bike lane design. "If it's more ominous than that we'll do an action alert... unless they really want to get rid of the bike lanes, which we're not going to let them do."

Note: If you live in Oakland, be sure to reach out to your elected officials and demand the KONO protected bike lane remains...

Libby Schaaf, Mayor

City Council:
Rebecca Kaplan, Council President

Dan Kalb, District 1
(510) 238-7001

Nikki Fortunato Bas, District 2
(510) 238-7002
Lynette Gibson McElhaney, District 3
(510) 238-7003

Sheng Thao, District 4

Noel Gallo, District 5

Loren Taylor, District 6

Larry Reid, District 7

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