Numerous Oakland High School students and staff joined a handful of members of Walk Oakland Bike Oakland and Bike East Bay to discuss safety issues on Park Blvd and around Oakland High School at our focus workshop on January 17. A good crowd met OakDOT’s Director and several staff members, and OakDOT appreciated hearing firsthand from students what using Park Blvd is like on a daily basis, particularly how cars make it difficult to walk across Park Blvd. It was a more inspiring experience than hearing from alarmed neighbors worried about cut-thru traffic.
OakDOT is tackling Park Boulevard to make this high-speed road a better option for residents who walk and bike and everyone who uses the street. While there is general support at the city for changes on upper and lower Park Blvd, middle Park Blvd in the Glenview neighborhood is where Bike East Bay and Walk Oakland Bike Oakland (WOBO) are pushing Oakland to add bike lanes and increase pedestrian safety. Because the city has received opposition from some residents against a road diet along this stretch, we are now organizing members to show larger community support for bike lanes on Park Blvd.
OakDOT will soon meet with Glenview neighbors at their regular neighborhood meeting to discuss middle Park Blvd and then with the Lake Merritt Business Association to discuss lower Park Blvd. We expect a community work shop this Spring to look at new street redesign proposals.
Park Boulevard serves a diversity of neighborhoods, ranging from the densely populated, lower income East Lake neighborhoods below Interstate 580 to more lofty heights of Glenview and Montclair. In order to increase street safety for residents, the city has committed to evaluating three projects:
Lower Park Boulevard: A “road diet” to add bike lanes and reduce driving speeds on lower Park Blvd below 580. The goal of the road diet will be to calm traffic and help residents more safely walk and bike in this neighborhood.
Middle Park Boulevard: Intersection improvements near Edna Brewer Middle School to improve safety of kids walking to school. Edna Brewer is one of 5 schools located near Park Blvd that could benefit from slower traffic speeds and shorter crossing distances on this busy road.
Upper Park Boulevard: A new bike/ped path along Park Blvd above Leimert Boulevard to the Hwy 13 on-ramp. This path will primarily serve recreational bicyclists who use Park Blvd as a connection to rides in the Oakland hills.
The city has not yet committed to considering a road diet for middle Park even though neighbors and parents from Edna Brewer Elementary School have been pushing for safety improvements since 2013. With lack of progress from the city, the neighbors sought Bike East Bay and WOBO’s support. Four years ago, Bike East Bay member Joe Lachoff drafted an engineering proposal for adding bike lanes through the Glenview neighborhood. Joe’s excellent design would add green paint and a mix of regular and buffered bike lanes through most of the Glenview commercial district. In fact, Oakland’s lead traffic engineer looked through these detailed engineering drawings and said, “Let’s issue a work order!”
The road diet feature of this design is now facing vocal opposition. At two recent community meetings, some residents strongly opposed reducing travel lanes on middle Park. In addition to anti-biking sentiments, they expressed concerns that removing car lanes will lead to congestion and diverting traffic onto adjacent streets such as Trestle Glen Road. These concerns were countered by parents who support the road diet, which will help children more safely cross Park Blvd on their way to Edna Brewer and Glenview Elementary School.
Bike East Bay strongly supports bike lanes along the entire stretch of Park Blvd. We’re planning a member organizing meeting in January 2017 at Oakland High School to review the designs with city staff and consultants. Until then, we especially need your help to build community support for bike lanes in the Glenview neighborhood.
What you can do
- Abel Guillen, District 2 (lower Park Blvd below 580)
- Noel Gallo, District 5 (middle Park Blvd above 580 and below Leimert)
- Annie Campbell-Washington, District 4, Park Blvd above Leimert