What’s wrong with this Bay Trail crossing? It’s a freeway off-ramp

Fixing a freeway off-ramp where it crosses the Bay Trail should be a no-brainer, but not for Caltrans. We need your help to pressure Caltrans to fix the Powell Street off-ramp where it crosses a segment of this popular biking and walking path. While Caltrans cites the lack of reported bike and pedestrian crashes at this location, Bike East Bay has received reports of at least three known car on bike collisions in the past year, with at least one resulting in serious injuries.

Report this hazardous crossing to Caltrans. Email Caltrans District 4 Pedestrian & Bicycle Coordinator Sergio Ruiz today (pre-populated email to sergio.ruiz@dot.ca.gov here), or submit a hazard report on our website.

An email template is below for your use. If you or someone you know experienced a crash or a close call at this off-ramp location on Powell Street, please include  as many specifics (date, time, direction of travel), as possible.

In September, the Emeryville Bike/Pedestrian Advisory Committee met with Caltrans to discuss safety issues on this section of the Bay Trail. At this point in time, Caltrans is currently proposing only very minor changes, partially due to the fact that there were no bicyclist or pedestrian crashes reported there between 2010-2014.

Bike East Bay knows these crashes are occurring. Drivers turning right onto Powell need to have an increased awareness to the presence of bicyclists and pedestrians. We have also been alerted to one particularly serious hazard: drivers frequently use the Powell Street off-ramp to bypass congestion on the freeway during rush hour. Drivers speed through the off-ramp and get on the opposite on-ramp again, endangering bicyclists and pedestrians at the Bay Trail crossing.

As a result, Bike East Bay is calling for three specific short term upgrades to this crosswalk:

  1. Make bicyclists and pedestrians more visible by striping the crosswalk with alternate green and white paint to make it clear that this is a trail crossing, not just a regular crosswalk
  2. Stop drivers from entering the crosswalk when the walk signal is activated by installing electronic ‘no right turns on red’ signs
  3. Stop drivers from taking the off-ramp as a freeway shortcut by installing a temporary median extension in the center of Powell Street.

Bike East Bay continues to work with the City to implement longer term solutions to this section of the Bay Trail. In particular, the 2011 Powell Street Urban Design Plan includes many improvements including new bus stops, tightened turning radii, extended medians, and new street art. As part of the plan if the crossing is still a major hazard we will push for the city to install cameras to track violators, actuated pedestrian signals, and/or rapid flash beacons.

Tell Caltrans to commit to more substantial improvements fast: please take action. Send an email or submit a hazards report today

Here is a template you can use. If you or someone you know experienced a crash or a close call at this off-ramp location on Powell Street, please include as many specifics (date, time, direction of travel), as possible.

I am writing to report a hazardous crosswalk condition at the northbound 580/80 off-ramp onto Powell Street in Emeryville. Off-ramp drivers turning right on red (eastbound) onto Powell Street frequently look to the left for oncoming car traffic, but not to the right for bike riders or pedestrians crossing during the walk phase. We know of at least three individuals who have been hit at this location in 2016 alone, sometimes as a hit-and-run, and sometimes resulting in serious injury.

This crosswalk is part of the Bay Trail, an important regional recreational and transportation facility for people walking and biking. The Bay Trail gets significant use from bike riders and pedestrians of all ages and connects to a very low stress facility on the waterfront to the north, and to the Bay Bridge pathway to the south which is already seeing significant use, and which will draw many more riders once the path connects to Yerba Buena Island later this year. However, the path along Powell Street has several known conflict points which need to be addressed with some short-term fixes right away, including this off-ramp location.

I encourage Caltrans to install 1) upgraded crosswalk markings to make it more clear that this is a trail crossing, not just a regular crosswalk, 2) ‘no right turns on red’ electronic signs that illuminate whenever the walk signal is activated, 3) a median extension in the center of Powell to prevent drivers from cutting straight through from the off-ramp to the on-ramp as happens frequently during rush hour, resulting in more off-ramp traffic.

Thank you, and I appreciate your quick attention to this known problem area so that improvements may be implemented before anyone else is injured.

Thank you for helping ensure the Bay Trail remains a safe and accessible asset for all.