Plans for bikeways in Oakland’s Chinatown receive mixed opinions from business leaders and transit experts

Oakland North reports on EBBC’s efforts to gain public support for safe bike access through Chinatown

On a sunny afternoon in the heart of Oakland’s Chinatown, shoppers meander up the South side of 8th Street, stopping to peruse boxes of produce lining the sidewalk.

At the corner of 8th and Franklin, against the backdrop of two delivery trucks double-parked near the curb, pedestrians cross a “scramble”—as the all-ways crosswalk is called by urban planners—in six directions, darting left, right and even diagonally across the intersection for the duration of the walk signal. When the traffic light turns green, vehicles lined up in four lanes across 8th are free to zoom down the one-way street to Broadway, or turn right onto Franklin.

Having more bicyclists will make Chinatown a safer community,” Campbell said. “When streets get busy—and here they are very busy—that’s a good thing. We like to see this vibrancy in a community. Making it safe for bicycling will add to that vibrancy, and when you slow down traffic, you create a safe, shared space for bicyclists and pedestrians. Dave Campbell, EBBC Program Director

This busy part of 8th Street is the site for one of the many proposed bikeways in Oakland. However, some Chinatown leaders said the city should think twice before adding bikes to the mix on 8th Street, as well as parallel 9th Street, which has a similar bustling vibe.

Jennie Ong, the executive director of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, which represents the interests of Chinatown businesses, said she is opposed to a proposal that would add bikeways and possibly eliminate one lane of traffic on 8th and 9th streets from Harrison to Broadway. Increased bicycle traffic would contribute to the confusion on these high-density streets, she said, where parking is a competitive sport and delivery trucks vie for curb space on a daily basis.

Full story in Oakland North here