Oakland Approves First Protected Bike Lane, Prioritizes Cyclists in Telegraph Redesign

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Renee Rivera of Bike East Bay. - BERT JOHNSON / FILE PHOTO
  • Bert Johnson / file photo
  • Renee Rivera of Bike East Bay.
Though it only covers a ten-block stretch on Telegraph Avenue, the city's first-ever protected bike lane could be a catalyst in making Oakland's roadways significantly more friendly to cyclists. That's the perspective of East Bay bike advocates who scored a key victory last night when the Oakland City Council unanimously approved a Telegraph redesign proposal that includes new bike lanes on the busy thoroughfare. 

The first phase of the so-called Telegraph Avenue Complete Streets Plan that council passed yesterday involves installing "parking-protected bicycle lanes" from 20th to 29th streets — meaning a bike lane that runs adjacent to the sidewalk and is separated from vehicle traffic by a lane of parking. These kinds of bike lanes already exist in San Francisco, and according to cycling advocates there, the designs have been successful in encouraging more cycling and reducing conflicts between bikes and cars. 

From Oakland's Telegraph report, the design of the protected lanes, also called "cycle tracks," would look something like this: 
protected_lane.png

From 29th to 41st streets, the city's newly approved plan calls for "buffered bicycle lanes," which are more standard cycling lanes with additional roadway striping separating bikes from motor traffic. That would look something like this:
buffered_lane.png

The city says it will do further analysis of 40th to 55th streets on Telegraph in the heart of Temescal, and cycling advocates plan to push for an extension of the bike lanes approved last night. Through the city's long public review process, Bike East Bay — the leading advocacy group championing pro-cycling roadway designs throughout the region — was able to secure a more bike-friendly design than the initial Telegraph proposal. That original concept lacked any protected lanes. While a ten-block stretch is fairly short, because it is on one of Oakland's busiest roadways — one that already attracts 1,200 cyclists per day, even without any bike lanes — advocates are confident that it will get a lot of use and help demonstrate the numerous benefits of this type of infrastructure.

Ultimately, continuous, protected bike lanes on busy transportation corridors — especially in shopping districts — could go a long way in promoting cycling and the local economy, advocates say. And by agreeing to remove vehicle traffic lanes on Telegraph to make room for a progressive bike lane concept, officials seem to be making a pro-cycling statement that could help pave the way for more substantial redesigns throughout the city.

You can read more about the city's full Telegraph redesign plan here (PDF). And here is the official report and ordinance that council passed yesterday.

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