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Oakland’s Gnarly 27th Street Intersection Soon to Get Safer

Bye bye slip turns. You won't be missed.

Where once there was a slip turn, now there is a planter and a widened sidewalk, with a plaza under construction. Photos: Streetsblog/Rudick

Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless noted in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content.

Harrison, 24th, Bay Place, and 27th come together at one of Oakland's most confusing, over-capacity intersections. But thanks to a housing development and the city's "27th Street, Bay Place, and Lakeside Family Streets" project, the intersection is set to get a bit more tame in the next few years. Some of the work has already started, as seen in the lead image and the tweet below:

From a former Oakland staffer and current District 3 candidate for City Council

Cyclists probably associate this area with the Oakland Whole Foods north of Lake Merritt on Bay Place, which is also part of the gigantic intersection. It has always been a noteworthy traffic sewer, but it's getting fixed.

First step, a new pedestrian plaza is taking shape where once there was a slip turn from 27th to 24th, as seen in former Oakland City staffer Warren Logan's tweet above.

A map of the overall project. Source: Oakland DOT

As part of the larger project, there will also be protected bike lanes extended on 27th and added to other streets. According to Oakland's project page, expect:

  • Protected bike lanes on 27th Street between Telegraph Avenue and Harrison Street/Bay Place
  • Buffered bike lanes on Bay Place between Harrison Street and Grand Avenue
  • Simplified driving lanes and shorter crossing distances at the intersections of Grand Ave and Bay Place, Grand Ave and Harrison Street, and 27th Street and Harrison Street
  • Planted medians along 27th Street and Bay Place
  • Slip lane closure at Grand/Bay

Streetsblog readers may recall that in an earlier phase 27th received parking protected bike lanes between Broadway and Valdez in 2019 as part of mitigation for developments up the street. That's been extended to 24th (albeit only on the southeast-bound side of the street).

A diagram of the intersection of Harrison and 27th. Source: OaklandDOT

Unfortunately, the larger project indicated in the Oakland DOT map two images above is still a ways away. "We are expecting Lakeside Family Streets to begin construction in Spring 2025, and 27th St/Bay Pl to begin construction in Fall 2025," explained Oakland DOT's Colin Piethe. "Design is still in progress for 27th/Bay Place."

But, as mentioned, the next phase of work on this staggered project is already happening. According to the construction crew, the work at 24th should be finished in about three months. "This project is probably getting attention now because of the plaza work happening at Harrison/24th Street reconfiguring that intersection, so people are noticing the changes and asking about what the larger plan is for the whole Harrison/27th/Bay Place intersection," explained Bike East Bay's Robert Prinz, in an email to Streetsblog and Oakland DOT staff.

The slip turn onto 24th, now gone. It won't be missed. Image: Google Streetsview

Streetsblog is, of course, happy to see this work happening. The more the city can do to keep cyclists physically separated from traffic the better. As to the planned protected intersection, readers familiar with Dutch design will note that the concrete turning islands shown in the upper corners of the diagram two images up are way too small. Those turning islands are supposed to be big enough to minimize speeds and maximize visibility where cars and bikes have to interact. The little nubs shown in the diagram won't do that. Oakland officials say they are still refining the design and Streetsblog will be sure to keep an eye on its evolution.

The bike lane continues for quite a ways, but for some reason the construction crews placed the barriers here

It's also worth noting that the construction crews have done an atrocious job with the placement of their temporary barriers. Riders heading towards Lake Merritt in the existing protected bike lanes suddenly come face to face with a construction barrier blocking their path and no guidance on where to go.

According to the signs, cyclists are supposed to share the protected temporary sidewalk, but there's no way to get there, as the cyclist in the pic, riding with cars again, discovered.

There's a sign instructing cyclists to share the temporary pedestrian path on the other side of the intersection, but any cyclists will already be in traffic if and when they see it. Whoever designed and/or approved the detours clearly doesn't ride a bike and/or doesn't give a damn about bicycle safety. It's nice to see shovels turning on a much-needed project, but cities need to do better during construction too.

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