Red Carpet Lanes in Oakland
5:12 PM PDT on August 18, 2020
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Crews are busy painting red-carpet lanes on newly paved segments of Broadway in downtown Oakland today. From an Oakland city release:
More buses run on Broadway than on any other street in Oakland. In fact, more buses run on Broadway than on any other street in the East Bay. But travel times on Broadway are unpredictable. This means that as the many routes that serve East Oakland, North Oakland, and West Oakland enter downtown and travel along Broadway, they each experience unreliable travel times, impacting passengers from across Oakland.
Adding dedicated bus lanes to Broadway between 11th and 20th Streets in downtown Oakland will result in up to 30% travel time savings and 20% travel time reliability improvements for bus transit. Bus service on Broadway connects to all parts of the AC Transit system. This means that improvements to bus service on Broadway will benefit the majority of AC Transit riders, including those whose origins or destinations are in East Oakland, North Oakland, West Oakland, and regional destinations countywide.
Here's some cool time lapse of the paint going down:
The project will also feature these new bus-level boarding platforms, complete with Clipper card machines so riders can prepay to reduce dwell time. They are part of the larger International/"Tempo" BRT project.
Streetsblog has requested a completion date for the work and will update this post accordingly, but at the rate things are going, it seems as if it should be finished in a matter of days, or weeks at most.
This is all fantastic. Transit should always have a dedicated lane. But, you might ask, what about bikes? Where do they go?
The answer is profoundly disappointing.
So, from OakDOT's Sarah Fine, above, there are no bike lanes because Alameda County didn't design it with bike lanes? In reality, years ago "Bike East Bay did design a bike lane for this project, but it wasn't accepted in the downtown plan," explained the organization's advocacy director, Dave Campbell.
Apparently, cyclists are now supposed to share the bus lane. Although even that's unclear, since posted signs say "Buses Only." Campbell said his organization is trying to get those signs to include bicycles. Because, as he put it, expecting cyclists to ride in a traffic lane with buses passing on the right is "asinine and ludicrous."
In Streetsblog's view, expecting cyclists to share a lane with 20,000-pound buses is also asinine and ludicrous. It's obscene that Broadway was reconfigured without a protected bike lane. There's plenty of room to accommodate the red-carpet lane and a protected bike lane, and still have car lanes in both directions. And since the county and city spent the money on bus boarding platforms anyway, this wasn't about cost--the bus islands could have been built in the center for center-running busways or offset from the curb with a cut-through for the bike lanes.
So how did Oakland end up with this situation? The answer may lie in its original release on the project, which states that: "Bus lanes will replace a travel lane and won't change on-street parking and loading [emphasis added]."
Oakland has certainly shown a capacity for innovation and leadership in designing successful projects that serve the needs of pedestrians, transit, cyclists, and motorists. Streetsblog has highlighted that many times. But it's heartbreaking to once again see concrete setting and paint drying in Oakland on a project that ignores safety for people on bikes.
Two more pics below:
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