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Oakland DOT Releases Lakeshore Ave. Protected Bike Lane Plans

Oakland is finally moving forward with a protected bike lane project on the east side of Lake Merritt. But questions remain

Lakeshore Avenue in September. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

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Oakland's Department of Transportation published plans on Monday for a two-way protected bike lane hugging the east side of Lake Merritt, on Lakeshore Avenue from E 18th Street to El Embarcadero. Construction should take place in the fall of 2024 to coordinate with a water pipe replacement project. That's a least three years earlier than previously planned by the city.

More details from Oakland DOT's website:

The two-way separated bike lanes will be located on the lake side of Lakeshore Avenue and [be] separated from motor vehicle traffic by a physical barrier. On-street parking along that physical barrier will provide additional separation between bicyclists and drivers.

"The design so far looks excellent," wrote Bike East Bay's Robert Prinz in an email to Streetsblog.

Image: Oakland DOT

Going by the cross-sectional diagrams above, when the bike lane is finished it should resemble the facility that was installed on Lakeside, on the opposite side of Lake Merritt, in 2018 (see image below).

Lake Merritt's short section of cycle track/two-way protected bike lane on Lakeside and Harrison, just after it opened. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

As mentioned in the OakDOT release, the new Lakeshore bike lane will have a physical barrier and also be parking-protected, with bus boarding islands and other features. However, it's unclear what constitutes a "physical barrier." A spokesperson for OakDOT told Streetsblog that "OakDOT has not yet determined the specific material to be used for the buffer space" and that they will seek "stakeholder input."

As seen in the lead image, sometimes there isn't a row of parked cars available to provide additional protection. In Streetsblog's view, that means plastic posts won't do--it's going to have to be steel or concrete.

"When we spoke with the OakDOT team back in September we did ask them if there would be a physical barrier, they did say that there would be, but they did not commit to us what this physical barrier would be," wrote safe-streets advocate Sheila McCracken in an email to Streetsblog. "We are supposed to be meeting with the OakDOT team again in December, and this is a question that is at the top of my list."

Map of the project area from Oakland DOT

Streetsblog readers will recall that McCracken's four-year-old niece Maia Correia was killed in August when she and her father were hit by a parked motorist who opened their door without looking. If there had been a protected bike lane on Lakeshore similar to what exists on Lakeside, that crash would have been impossible.

Meanwhile, advocates are pushing the city to build a protected loop around the entire Lake, not just on Lakeshore and part of Lakeside. Even with the Lakeshore announcement, the loop's future remains in flux.

Still, the Lakeshore plan will be a big improvement. "It’s tragic that this girl’s death had to be the trigger for this to happen," wrote safe streets advocate George Spies in an email to Streetsblog. Nevertheless, he added, "this is a win for the advocacy from the family first and foremost, and the community at large ... Many people behind the scenes in various offices in the City helped move this along, and we appreciate them."

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