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Port of Oakland Rips Out Protected Bike Lane on Embarcadero

A crew in Oakland, the city that’s always complaining about lack of resources, ripping out a newly installed protected bike lane on Embarcadero. Photos: Streetsblog/Rudick

Correction, 3/27 - the headline of an earlier version of this story indicated that "Oakland" ripped out the bike lane. Streetsblog spoke directly with the man pictured in the lead image who identified himself and his crew as independent contractors working for "the city." Streetsblog has since learned that the crew was actually working for the Port of Oakland, which apparently has jurisdiction over this section of street. While Port operations are separate from the city bureaucracy, the Port's Commissioners are appointed by the mayor and the Oakland City Councilmembers (for four-year terms).

Crews ripped out a quarter-mile of curb-protected bike lane on Oakland's Embarcadero Thursday morning. "This city never has resources to build protected infrastructure quickly, but they have resources to immediately rip it out," said a frustrated Carter Lavin, an advocate who uses the street and came to view the destruction.

He put together a quick TikTok to vent his frustration:


#stitch with @Carter Lavin city of Oakland rapidly responds to make our streets MORE dangerous by removing bike lane protections, yet action to protect International Boulevard languishes for years while people die. call your elected officials and demand safer streets for all

♬ original sound - Carter Lavin

The section of Embarcadero in question runs along the Nimtz freeway across from 16th Avenue between Brooklyn Basin and East Peralta. It is frequented by drivers going at freeway speeds. Cars often drift into the bike lanes. One such driver killed a cyclist in December of 2022.

Some of the guerrilla install before it was ripped out on Thursday

East Bay advocates have fought for years to try and get the bike lanes protected, negotiating with the city and a major developer nearby.

"Bike East Bay had been coordinating with the Brooklyn Basin developer and Oakland city staff since 2017 on official protected bikeway upgrades along Embarcadero (5th Ave to 9th Ave) and on 5th Ave (up to E 8th St)," explained Bike East Bay's Robert Prinz. "Plans were drawn up for an installation (files here) but then the effort stalled out and nothing has happened."

Fed up with the lack of action on Embarcadero, guerrilla advocates installed almost 1/4 mile of concrete curb along the bike lane over the President's Day weekend.

Advocates close to the guerrilla team told Streetsblog that "trucks are rent-able" when asked how the curbs were installed. The curbs were secured from moving around horizontally by pieces of rebar drilled into the asphalt.

"There's no reason for a car to ever enter that lane, yet there are tire marks on the curbs," Safe Street Rebel advocate Bryan Culbertson told Streetsblog. "Every time that happens is a time a driver was intruding into a lane where a bicyclists could have been." That, of course, would result in another dead cyclist considering the typical speeds on this stretch of street, he added. "It's evidence of how needed this protection is. Drivers are not staying in their lane."

Carter and Culbertson expressed scorn for a bureaucracy that can't seem to build protected bike lanes or keep streets and sidewalks safe, with over 30 people killed on Oakland roads last year. Yet somehow resources can be found to rip out safety improvements done by an independent group.

As if to further underscore that point, many cyclists who traverse the area use the sidewalk on the opposite side (there's a sidewalk on only one side) to avoid the unsafe, high-speed traffic and freeway ramps altogether. There's a large hole in one of the sidewalk utility covers, right across from where the protected lanes were ripped out, that's been there for over a year (see photo below with the traffic cone placed there to warn people). The hole goes several feet down. If a cyclist or pedestrian fell into this hole they could be severely injured.

The city can't repair a cracked utility cover that's waiting to mash someone

Or perhaps the correct word is "unwilling." As Thursday's quick-removal of the protected bike lane proves, the resources exist to act and act quickly.

Streetsblog has reached out to District 2 Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas and the city of Oakland for comment and will update this post. Streetsblog readers can reach her at or 510-238-7002. Bas has overseen the removal of vertical posts from the quick-build protected intersections around Lake Merritt BART. And during her tenure the estuary channel path, another key bit of bicycle infrastructure, has become flooded, blocked and unusable.

Bas is running against Emeryville City Councilperson John Bauters for Alameda County Supervisor in the March 5 primary election. Bauters is best known for installing bulb outs, protected bike lanes, and other safety infrastructure throughout Emeryville. He has never overseen the removal of a protected bike lane.

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