Recap: Oakland's Cities for Cycling Road Show

Thursday, April 10, 2014 (All day) to Friday, April 11, 2014 (All day)

My perspective is broadened.” …… Ade Oluwasogo, Supervising Traffic Engineer, City of Oakland


Turns out, traffic engineers are people too—who knew? And they respond to ideas and successes from a far as much as they understand concerns from everyday people like yourself who ride the streets of Oakland and want a better experience. Ade wants to make Oakland’s streets better for bicycling, but like many other traffic engineers throughout cities of the East Bay, his training and experience has primarily focused on designing streets for cars. After hearing top transportation experts from around the country, Ade quickly appreciated how successful it has been for New York City, Boston and Chicago to redesign their streets for people. Then Ade got to take a bike ride with these transportation experts on the streets of Oakland and start applying new ideas. He had to borrow Oakland Planning Director Rachel Flynn’s shiny new Public Bike, but enjoy it he did. Our perspective is broadened too.

Oakland’s Cities for Cycling Road Show brought to Oakland Mike Amsden of the Chicago Department of Transportation, Ryan Russo of New York City Department of Transportation and Nicole Freedman of Boston Bikes Program, which operates out of the Mayor’s Office. Also in town were three staff members of the National Association of City Transportation Officials, helping Oakland city staff, department heads, elected officials and their staff, and business representatives work through the challenge of shifting focus from moving cars to moving people, safely. We were delighted on Day 1 to see a packed room of Oakland’s finest traffic engineers, planners and supervising engineers hearing about NACTO successes and asking so many needed questions. All of these city staff then hopped on a bike and road 14th St, around Lake Merritt, over to the 40th St green supersharrow, and then up and down Telegraph Ave, the feature street of the Road Show.

Oakland is primed for this,” said Mike Amsden of Chicago DOT. “You are way ahead of where we were three years ago when we embarced on a plan to build 100 miles of protected bikeways.”

The afternoon of Day 1 featured a focused design charrette to tackle many of the difficult challenges of making Telegraph Ave and 14th Street more balanced streets and safe for bicycling. Work tables were full of large-scale maps of these streets and were surrounded by city traffic engineers, design consultants and our out-of-town transportation experts, all brainstorming how to fix these streets for walking and bicycling, and to improve them for transit service too. The afternoon concluded with a closed door meeting with Mayor Quan, Nicole Freedman of Boston Bikes and Bike East Bay, to discuss strategies for ensuring a successful bike share launch in the East Bay in 2015.

The evening of Day 1 featured our VIP Reception, with over 200 attendees, including Oakland Mayor Jean Quan welcoming guests, Director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and NACTO Chair Ed Reiskin introducing the program, and super special guest Malcolm Dougherty, Director of Caltrans. As you may have heard, Malcolm shared with the audience Caltrans’ endorsement of the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide and the Urban Streets Design Guide, considered the next generation manuals for designing more bikeable, more livable streets. This announcement allows cities to build you protected bikeways, like the 2-way cycle track starting construction on Shoreline Drive in Alameda this year, and the parking-protected bikeways under development for Telegraph Ave in Oakland. Many thanks to our Presenting Sponsor Panoramic Interests, and to our partners at Chop Bar, Linden Street Brewery, Urban Legend Cellars and Hesternet Productions for contributing to a successful evening.

“I want to share with you tonight and help represent with you the direction that we need to go is tomorrow, today, we are going to be the third state to endorse the NACTO urban streets design guide [ROARING APPLAUSE] …I wish we could’ve been the first. I was trying to be the second and somebody snuck in there. I’ll take third, but in the end, we’re really trying to change our mentality for the California Department of Transportation, for our engineers and for those that are working in and around the highway system. The least we could do as the DOT is to follow the lead of cities not get in the way and figure out how to carry that into inter regional travel.” ….. Malcolm Dougherty, Director of Caltrans. 

Day 2 of the Road Show started with an invigorating discussion of how bicycling is good for business. Special Projects Coordinator Kelley Kahn in Oakland’s City Administrators Office shared two important perspectives with another room full of department heads and representatives from Oakland’s business community: 1) how in her experience Oakland employers appreciate streets and communities safe for walking and bicycling, and 2) how other cities have studied and learned that retail activity improves when streets are better for walking and bicycling. In attendance were the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, Lake Merritt/Uptown and Downtown Oakland Association, Koreatown Northgate Association, Temescal Business Improvement District and the Lake Merritt Business Association. Also in attendance was Chris Pastena, owner of Chop Bar, Tribune Tavern and Lungomare restaurants, who shared with attendees how streets better for bicycling are better for his customers.

The intensive 2-day Road Show was a unique opportunity to jump start development of a modern bikeway network in Oakland and make Oakland a truly bike-friendly city. We are thanking that Oakland’s Public Works Director Brooke Levin participated in the event, as did Planning Director Rachel Flynn, Arturo Sanchez of the City Administrators Office, Councilmembers Libby Schaaf, Rebecca Kaplan, Dan Kalb, Lynette McElhaney, Pat Kernighan and of course Mayor Jean Quan.


Every school day on Park Blvd in Glenview, parents walk their kids across Park Blvd at 13th Ave to get to Edna Brewer Middle School. And more and more kids are bicycling to school thanks to new bike lockers at Edna Brewer. However, students face an unnecessary and daunting task of navigating Park Blvd. Traffic on Park Blvd coming down from the hills does not stop at 13th Ave, even when the volunteer school crossing guardfrantically waives a hand-held stop sign. “I’m afraid I’m going to get run over,” said several of the volunteer crossing guards at a recent traffic safety meeting held at Edna Brewer.

Oakland is planning for a better bikeway on Park Blvd but recognizes the challenge of making space on busy streets for safe bike lanes that are comfortable and protected. Just down the street, Oakland recently redesigned Lake Merritt Blvd with green buffered bike lanes on a 3-block stretch grossly over-built for cars. Oakland’s focus on building better bikeways manifests a growing trend among cities to design streets that feel safe for people of all ages and abilities. Oakland knows it can learn from other American cities in order to become one of the great bicycling cities of the US.

Special Events    
Thursday, April 10 5:30-8:00pm: Cities for Cycling VIP Reception hosted by Bike East Bay and Walk Oakland Bike Oakland    
Friday, April 11, Campaign Leader Workshop  to learn about innovative bikeways in other American cities. Contact Dave Campbell if interested in attending    

On April 10-11, 2014, Oakland starts learning from other innovative American cities. The North American Cities of Transportation Officials (NACTO) holds its 9th Cities for Cycling Road Show in Oakland, and brings to town 3 national experts in innovative bikeway projects—Ryan Russo, Assistant Commissioner of Traffic Management, New York City Department of Transportation, Mike Amsden, Chicago Bicycle Project Manager, Chicago DOT, and Nicole Freedman, Boston Bikes Director, Mayor’s Office. You can hear their encouraging bikeway stories at the Road Show on April 10, and if you participate in our Winnings Campaigns Training March 21-23, you can spend one-on-one time with them to discuss your city’s innovative bikeway campaigns.

Over the course of 2 days, these innovative transportation leaders will share their secrets to jump-starting great bikeway networks in major US cites, helping Oakland chart a course for accelerating development of a complete bikeway network that is safe for everyone. “Designing protected bike lanes is a relatively new field for transportation engineers, and in Chicago we have a goal of 100 miles of protected bikeways,” said Mike Amsden, Bicycle Project Manager, Chicago Department of Transportation. “It will be great to share some of Chicago’s lessons learned with the city of Oakland, and in turn, to learn some new strategies myself.”