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Get Inspired by Plan Downtown Oakland

Author: Bike East Bay

Date: November 28, 2015

Community Meeting February 1, 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, 1428 Alice St.

Come see exciting proposals to transform much of downtown Oakland.

Some may remember vibrant, lively streets in Downtown Oakland, full of people and activities, commerce and comraderie, making it a great place to be. Many factors took Oakland from that to what it is today, but a resurgence can restore Oakland’s downtown.

Meet #PlanDowntown Oakland

Imagine streets looking like this–17th St west of San Pablo Ave. Added bikeways, wider sidewalks, more trees, more infill development to fill up empty parking lots, and more people–the tell tale sign of a good redesign. All making for a street inspiring pride in Oakland residents.

“A safe street is one that tells a rich story about it’s past, its context, and the future hopes of its residents.”

Hans Monderman, Dutch traffic engineer (1945-2008)

Reimagine 9th St as a calm, neighborhood street designed first for people, yet allowing cars to share the neighborhood. More greenery and trees, calmer traffic, a pleasant bicycling experience. Other similar streets can be transformed using many of these people-oriented features.

What you can do:

  • Feb 1, 6-8pm: community meeting on the Plan Alternatives Report at the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, 1428 Alice St., Oakland, CA 94612. This meeting will include a brief presentation followed by an open house style format to review various aspects of the Plan Alternatives. 
  • Feb 8 Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board meeting to review Alternatives Report
  • Feb 10 Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission to review Alternatives Report
  • Feb 18 Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee to review Alternatives Report
  • March 2 Planning Commission to review Alternatives Report

Get Inspired

Redesigned streets like this can be transformed in stages, first with simple reallocation of roadway space and new striping, and then with new curbs for wider sidewalks and more trees, and soon after with new development or repurposed use of underutilized spaces.

Take a look at a new foot of San Pablo Ave, reimagined as a shared space–the ulitimate in urban public realm. A shared space street removes much traffic engineering such as signs, paint markings, traffic lights, or rules other than go at a human speed, be courteous and yield to others–motorists yield to bicyclists, who yield to pedestrians, who yield to other pedestrians, who yield to bicyclists, who yield to motorists, who yield to… get the idea. It’s like the rules, or lack of rules, you find walking through a parking lot or within a BART station–no one has priority, for the most part. Traffic mixes and everyone makes their way, using eye contact and hopefully some courtesy and basic human interactions to get thru safely. It’s not always nice or polite, but often is, and either way it is part of life in an urban world.

Here is 15th St as a shared street. Because it is a narrower street, it has great potential to be reprioritized as a people-first space. Sure, cars can use the street, but they have no right of way–they have to yeild to everyone. Before you dismiss this concept, go down to Jack London Square and walk down Water Street, right in front of our offices. It’s a shared street and works just good.

Many other streets can be reimagined, including Broadway and and Interstate 980. Yes, Oakland is considering getting rid of 980 and reconnecting West Oakland to Downtown. Even freeway traffic engineers agree this monstrosity is not needed because it carries little traffic. Originally built as a potential freeway connection to an envisioned new bridge across the bay to San Francisco, it certainly is not needed for that reason.

14th Street Downtown, shown here, exhibits an inviting protected bike lane design that not only safely separates you from moving traffic, but also creates a pleasant experience for bicycling. As we have said before, 14th St could work well with either one-way protected bike lanes on each side of the street, or a two-way protected cycle track on the north side of the street. Both work good, with the two-way design having potential due to a proximity to Lake Merritt on one end and a future connection to the Bay Bridge pathway at the other end.

As shown here, the bike lane is separated from the sidewalk with a foot or so of pavers, and from moving traffic or parked cars by more pavers. Room is created for new street trees, hopefully more Oak trees. The rendering here can first be piloted with paint and signage, as is happening on Telegraph Ave in the KONO District. If the design proves successful, more permanent elements are added, such as curbs, drainage and possibly raising the bike lane slightly above street level, as they do in Copenhagen and Amsterdam.

Next Steps

  • outreach to neighborhood groups and stakeholders
  • public meetings and feedback
  • meetings with organizations and institutions downtown
  • finalize Plan in late 2016

Check out PlanDowntown Oakland Final Presentation October 28, 2015

Oakland’s Official Website for PlanDowntown Oakland

Renew/join Bike East Bay and support our efforts to build a network of safe, comfortable and attractive bikeways for a top 5 metro area in the country for bike commuting.

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