Cycling is growing rapidly in the East Bay and cities are struggling to keep up with this surging demand for safer streets. Berkeley has a bike commute rate of 8 percent -- the fourth highest in the nation. And the most bikable parts of Oakland have rates approaching Berkeley’s. Yet there is still no continuous safe bikeway between Downtown Oakland and UC Berkeley.
The East Bay Bicycle Coalition is pushing cities in the East Bay to innovate and try new designs for safe bikeways that allow cyclists to ride with confidence. Green paint is a good example. While green paint has now become a standard option for bike lanes–it's use for advance stop boxes, super-sharrows, green-backed sharrows is still experimental.
Shown in the photo slide is dashed green bikeway on the Ninth Street Bicycle Boulevard in West Berkeley, the only green paint deposited to date in the East Bay. It was installed as part of the West Berkeley Bowl project several years ago. However, the East Bay is yet to have its first green bike lane striped. Which city will be first?
The challenge for cities is to figure out which streets are a priority and for traffic engineers to figure out a way to add sand or grit to the green paint to give it some traction and prevent it from becoming slippery.
San Francisco has striped many green bike lanes, bike boxes and conflict zone green boxes, much like those that appear on the Ninth Street Bicycle Bouevard, but the paint is wearing off quickly. Cities all over the United States like Portland and New York City are implementing colored bikeways as an effective way to raise the presence and awareness of bikes. However, to date, all we have in the East Bay are the dashed green boxes at the West Berkeley Bowl.
Not to worry: Several green bikeways are in the design stage. The City of Berkeley is working with UC Berkeley on green bike lanes that would stretch from Hearst Avenue along the north side of campus from Shattuck Avenue to Euclid Avenue. If approved this summer, the new lanes may take until 2015 to install. We can't wait. Please attend the July 19 meeting of the Berkeley Transportation Commission and ask that this important bikeway project be accelerated. We want it completed by Bike to Work Day 2013.
Richmond has included green super-sharrows as an approved design in its recently approved bicycle plan. Green super-sharrows are being considered for Macdonald and San Pablo avenues as a way to overlay a bikeway on existing travel lanes and avoid having to remove a lane of travel for cars. EBBC is pushing for well-designed bike lanes for streets like these, but in the short term, super sharrows can improve bike safety. Find out more at Richmond Livable Corridors Project.
Emeryville is presently designing green advance stop boxes for bikes at the intersection of San Pablo Avenue and 40th Street, much like San Francisco has installed in The Wiggle. Emeryville’s advance stop boxes are part of a Safe Routes to Transit grant awarded by the East Bay Bicycle Coalition in 2011. There are some unofficial advance stop boxes in the East Bay, but they are painted green yet. Check out the asphalt-colored advance stop boxes on the Ninth Street Bicycle Boulevard at Ashby Avenue and at the intersection of Buchanan and Jackson streets in Albany.
Caltrans is designing green bike lanes for Tunnel Road leading up to Caldecott Lane and the SR-13 on the ramp. The City of Oakland is reviewing these designs and it is expected that they will be approved and implemented in 2013. These green bike lanes are part of a host of bikeway improvements on Tunnel Road and Broadway Terrace that the East Bay Bicycle Coalition fought for as part of the Caldecott Fourth Bore Project.
The City of Oakland is working on green super-sharrows on 40th Street between Emeryville and the MacArthur BART Station. There was much debate about this project, with neighbors wanting a road diet with removal of travel lanes, to concerns about the median be maintained, to AC Transit’s concerns about bus service reliability. The solution approved is a green super-sharrow, which the City of Long Beach pioneered. While green bike lanes are approved, green super sharrows are not. Thus, Oakland is requested permission to experiment with this design.
Oakland has also suggested green bike lanes in the Lake Merritt Station Area Plan. This plan proposes new bike lanes on many of the streets around the Lake Merritt BART Station and shown at right is what those bike lanes might look like on 10th Street adjacent Laney College. Find out more and how you can help at our Oakland Bikeways Campaign.
Green bike lanes are part of a rapidly improving toolbox of innovative bikeway designs being implemented in American cities. For a full listing of these innovative designs, check out the North American Cities of Transportation Officials Bikeways Design Guide.
The East Bay Bicycle Coalition promotes bicycling for people of all ages and abilities. You can find out more at: www.ebbc.org. We offer free bicycle safety classes to people wanting to learn how to start bike commuting, for kids and families, and for people who regularly ride and want to build more confidence out on busier streets. ebbc.org/safety