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Eyes on the Street Update: Fruitvale Ave Raised Bike Lanes Now on Both Sides

And the Bay Trail connection is now open. The connections to BART and Alameda island are still wanting, but these projects show that things can get done

4:53 PM PST on January 22, 2024

The connection to the Bay Trail is now open. All pics Streetsblog/Rudick

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It's been a couple of months since Streetsblog took a visit to the Fruitvale Alive project, but visible progress continues. Most recently: the connection to the Jingletown section of the Bay Trail is now open (see lead image) and the raised sidewalk-level bike lanes are now well-under construction on both sides of the street connecting the Bay Trail, Fruitvale BART (well, almost, more on that below) and the Fruitvale Avenue bridge to Alameda.

More background on the project from Oakland's website:

Fruitvale Avenue between E12th Street and Alameda Ave is critical gap in the City of Oakland's bikeway network. This stretch of roadway connects commuters and residents of Jingletown and the City of Alameda with the services, amenities, and high-quality public transit available around the Fruitvale BART Station. Home to numerous railroad crossings, the I880 underpass, and wide lanes that encourage high vehicle speeds, this corridor was the focus of a community planning and design effort from 2014 to 2016 where the City held multiple public meetings in the Fruitvale neighborhood. 

Indeed, this is a project that has been in the works for a very long time. Streetsblog covered the background on Fruitvale Alive last November, but it's hard not to celebrate progress on one of the Bay Area's substantial projects that follows international best practices. In the previous post, Streetsblog outlines a few of the shortcomings -- most notably the lack of coordination between Oakland and Alameda, so that when Fruitvale Alive is complete cyclists will still be dumped into a pretty sketchy intersection as soon as they start across the bridge where the project ends.

That said, the same is true of the western end of Fruitvale Live, which will dump cyclists into conventional door-zone bike lanes past 12th Street. But at least that will get Alameda and Jingletown cyclists nearly all the way to BART.

Raised bike lanes are now usable on both sides of Fruitvale

But not all the way.

It was nice to see another phase of affordable housing at the Fruitvale BART station, part of a long-term effort by BART to develop their station catchment areas. A new feature (not quite fully open yet) is the Fruitvale Transit Village Pathway, a section of fully separated bike path under the BART tracks leading out of the station (see below):

a little chunk of protected bike lane under BART. It's a bit orphaned, but we'll take it!

This will get close but won't tie into the Fruitvale Alive project. That's unfortunate, but plans to do so succumbed to cost and right-of-way issues. So for a while at least cyclists will still have some slightly messy navigation to do at the end of the project to get to BART.

Meanwhile, Alameda Avenue, which feeds into Fruitvale Avenue on the bridge side of the project, got a bunch of "quick build" concrete protection -- but not to protect cyclists. In fact, as seen in the picture below, for all intents and purposes Oakland built a protected bike lane on Fruitvale, except it's too narrow to cycle in. That's because the barriers are to deter encampments. It underscores how cities could provide quick-build protected cycle tracks while they work on these longer-term projects, the way Paris and other cities do it.

Too narrow to be a bike lane, but this "quick build" installation shows how real protection could be constructed virtually overnight -- but isn't

Unfortunately, in California "... there is a dichotomy in the law which has a lower bar for implementing closures relating to crime or dumping, but a higher bar for implementing the exact same thing but relating to traffic safety," wrote Bike East Bay's Robert Prinz in an email about the Alameda K-rail. It's a higher bar, but cities could still do it.

Need concrete to save lives, can't be done. Deter encampments? Sure.

For more on the FruitvaleAlive project, check out past coverage in Streetsblog and coverage in The Oaklandside. Two more pictures of the ongoing construction below. As the sign says, the project should be finished in August of this year.

Eventually this will continue to E.12th

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