Concrete Coming to Telegraph’s Protected Lanes

A construction worker walks along the temporarily closed bike lane on Telegraph. Photos: Streetsblog/Rudick
A construction worker walks along the temporarily closed bike lane on Telegraph. Photos: Streetsblog/Rudick

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Contractors with the city of Oakland are breaking up pavement on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland’s KONO district as part of a project to install concrete curbs and islands to make the currently paint-and-plastic-bollard protected bike lanes permanent. “OakDOT is working closely with the contractor and businesses to minimize impact, doing one side of the street at a time,” said Bike East Bay’s Dave Campbell, who has been advocating for the $4.5 million project for many years.

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Construction was underway at 29th and Telegraph on Monday, on the west side of the street. A construction worker at the scene told Streetsblog the work requires digging up and relaying traffic signal wiring to accommodate the new installations. “Starting this week the contractor will be working at 27th to demolish the roadway and lay out [boarding] islands to the south in the upcoming weeks,” wrote OakDOT spokesperson Sean Maher in an email to Streetsblog.

Readers will recall that the protected bike lanes on Telegraph, between 20th and 29th, were first installed in 2016. The mostly plastic bollard and paint installation was always meant as a temporary step to try out the configuration, which had previously consisted of two traffic lanes in each direction. Merchants pushed back hard, complaining that the loss of traffic lanes harmed their businesses. The protected bike lanes were almost removed in 2021.

Many advocates think the temporary measures–the plastic bollards–were ugly and confusing, helping to make the project unpopular overall. Advocates with Bike East Bay pushed back, however, saving the project. Further legislative threats will soon be all-but-impossible after the concrete is set. The hope is that the new configuration, as rendered below, will be more attractive and less controversial.

A rendering ow how it will look when completed.
A rendering of how it will look when completed.

“Goodbye posts, hello concrete curbs!” exclaimed Bike East Bay on social media.

Campbell told Streetsblog that when this project is finished in about a year, it will give Oakland residents clear examples of how streets can operate. Further north on Telegraph, in the “gap” between 29th and MacArthur, OakDOT installed unprotected, buffered lanes. Then north of MacArthur, in the Temescal neighborhood, Telegraph still has parking-protected lanes demarcated by paint and plastic posts. Soon “we’ll be able to ask people what they prefer,” said Campbell. He pointed out that the buffered lanes removed just as much parking as the protected lanes, so merchants are less likely in the future to argue against protected lanes based on the idea that they require more parking removal. “I expect people to complain about buffered lanes too.”

Based on research into collision rates in Oakland and elsewhere, it’s clear where Bike East Bay stands. “We are organizing to extend protected bike lanes and improve pedestrian safety north through Temescal, creating a continuous bikeway from Downtown to 57th Street,” wrote Bike East Bay on its website.

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Another look at the construction, facing south. Note the now tattered-looking white plastic posts that previously marked the bike lane.

Fortunately, the buffered section between this current work and Temescal included concrete boarding islands for buses with the bike lane shifting to the right so cyclists and buses aren’t jogging for position at each stop. If OakDOT continues installing protected bike lanes into the gap, it won’t be necessary to jack-hammer out the new bus stops, since they are already in the correct configuration for a protected bike lane.

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