Sunday, August 3, 2008

Bike lanes on 40th Street--will they happen?

The City of Oakland’s Bicycle Master Plan of 2007 calls for Class 2 bike lanes on 40th Street between Adeline and MLK (among other places). This route lies within the West Oakland Redevelopment Project Area.

Currently, the street consists of a parking lane, six feet wide; a traffic lane, 12 feet wide; a second traffic lane, 14 feet wide; then the 16 foot median, then the two similar traffic lanes and parking lanes going in the other direction. The total street width, therefore, is 80 feet, not including sidewalks and curbs.

A recent MacArthur BART bicycle access study evaluated alternatives for bicycle routes to and from the BART station. In February 2008, the City of Oakland’s Transportation Services Division released results of this study funded by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. This synopsis states “On 40th St between Market St and Webster St, the study recommends narrowing the 16-foot median by six feet to add bicycle lanes while maintaining two travel lanes in each direction.[1]

The proposal calls for trimming the median by six feet, three feet on each side, leaving a ten foot median.

The minimum width for a travel lane on a street with buses is 11 feet; 12 feet is preferable[2]. The City of Oakland Bicycle Master Plan states that “with parallel parking, the bicycle lane must be at least 5’ wide and the parking lane at least 7’ wide.”

So, the minimum street width in each direction is: 7 feet for parking, 5 feet for the bicycle lane, 11 feet each for two traffic lanes equals 34 feet in each direction.

Therefore, the plan will increase the parking lane from six feet wide to seven feet. It will add a five foot bike lane. It will trim the first car lane from 12 feet to 11 feet and the second car lane from 14 feet to 11 feet. It will trim three feet off each side of the 16 foot median.

We should support this proposal for many reasons:

The street is already an informal bicycle route to and from MacArthur BART. Striping dedicated bike lanes will make bicycle travel on the street safer.

Reducing the width of auto lanes has been demonstrated to calm traffic. People drive slower in narrower lanes.

Twelve of the 14 street trees in the median along this particular stretch should be able to be preserved. Only two trees will likely need to be removed due to shrinking the median from 16 feet to 10 feet.

Widening the parking lane and adding the bike lane will have the effect of pushing auto traffic away from the curb. It currently is dangerous to get into a parked car when traffic is flowing on the street. It will be safer if the moving cars are six feet farther away from the parked cars.

The sidewalk on much of 40th Street is absurdly narrow for the amount of pedestrian traffic on the street[3]. While this proposal does not directly address this shortcoming, it makes it safer for pedestrians to step into the street to avoid other pedestrians and to walk around cars parked in driveways[4]. It also will reduce the number of bicycles using the sidewalk.

The additional six feet of space between the curb and the first traffic lane will make it easier and safer for cars to park and to enter and exit garages.

Per Hui-Chang Li of the Community and Economic Development Agency (“CEDA”), West Oakland redevelopment funds could be used for bike lanes on the south side of 40th Street between Adeline and MLK[5], but not the north side, because the project area ends at 40th Street. Jason Patton, a Program Analyst with CEDA’s Planning and Zoning Services, estimates that some $250,000 might be needed to create the bike lane on the south side of 40th Street within the West Oakland Project Area[6].

CEDA anticipates tackling the entire project at once, not proceeding in phases. Therefore, design activities need to occur first, and construction is not likely to begin before 2010. It is anticipated that funding will come from multiple sources, including grants, redevelopment funds and BART station access funds.

Considering that the number of pedestrians using 40th Street to go to and from BART currently outnumbers the number of bicyclists, it would be prudent to ask if pedestrian improvements could or should be a part of the project as well. Undergrounding the utilities, which are on the same, heavily trafficked side of the street as the BART station, would free up sidewalk space for pedestrian movement.

(Due to the presence of utility poles, at many points on the south side of 40th Street the available sidewalk width is barely 3 feet, not the “6 to 15 feet” width that the Oakland Bicycle Master Plan trumpets as the typical sidewalk width in the City.)

[1] MacArthur BART Bicycle Access Study, City of Oakland, February 2008, p. 2.
[2] (This is per the minutes of the Oakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee, 11/17/05.)
[3] The sidewalk is frequently 60” in width, not counting the curb. The Oakland Bicycle Master Plan draft EIR, March 2007, states “Sidewalks and walkways generally range from 6 to 15 feet in width. . .” (p. 4.A-1) and they don’t count the curb. So why is the 40th Street sidewalk only 60” wide?
[4] “Bicycle Lanes (Class 2) provide an added buffer between the sidewalk and the motor vehicle travel lanes.” Oakland Bicycle Master Plan, p. 4.A-17
[5] Specifically, the West Oakland Project Area’s northeastern boundary is one parcel west of the intersection of 40th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The CafĂ© Dejena building is in the Broadway/MacArthur/San Pablo redevelopment area.
[6] The entire project includes, of course, the bike lane on the north side of 40th St., but also bike lanes on 41st Street to Piedmont Avenue, and bike lanes on West MacArthur Blvd. Between Highway 24 and Broadway. Total estimated cost of the project is $800,000.


edric said...

Would it be possible to add median landscaping to the in the scope of work for the project? This is a gateway into Oakland and it should be welcoming. The B/M/SP Redevelopment PAC landscaped the median from MLK to Broadway. Emeryville has landscaped their medians up to the Oakland border. The missing gap is from Emeryville to MLK, which overlaps with the bike land project. Would WOPAC consider filling in this missing link and help change the image that Oakland is beautiful when folks enter our neighborhood?

JAMMI Journalist said...

At the WOPAC Trees and Transportation subcommittee meeting on September 15th, Jason Patton of CEDA explained why 40th Street works for bike lanes between Emeryville and MacArthur BART, and West MacArthur does not. West Mac is anticipated to double or triple in traffic in the next 20 years, has no median that can be cut into to make turn lanes, and has too many stop lights.