Changing Car-First Corridors into People-First Streets
By Susie Hufstader
When it comes to transforming major corridors, sometimes the best way to achieve visionary change is to take the project piece by piece. In Alameda County, East 14th Street and Mission Boulevard create one of the most important corridors in the region: together they create the major bus route and central business districts for San Leandro, Ashland, Cherryland, and Hayward.
Like on San Pablo Avenue, the Alameda County Transportation Commission is working on a study for E. 14th Street and Mission Boulevard. The study will analyze transit, walking, biking, and vehicle traffic along the corridor to propose a long-term vision for mobility in Alameda County. Meanwhile, bike advocates are forging relationships to push for protected bike lanes as part of smaller local projects. With the first piece under construction in South Hayward, we’re working with partners to advocate for excellent projects in North Hayward, Ashland, and Cherryland. Taking the corridor one local project at a time, we’re pushing forward a long-term vision of complete protected bike lanes, rapid bus transit, and connected community in Alameda County.
Ashland & Cherryland
As urban unincorporated communities, Ashland and Cherryland have experienced a long history of political underrepresentation and difficulty fostering cultural identity. As residents organize and advocate for increased representation and local investment, E. 14th Street /Mission Boulevard has served as the physical and social spine of the community.
Successfully advocating for a protected bike lane on E. 14th Street in Ashland (162nd Street to Route 238) is just one of many community-driven changes coming in the area. A new public art piece adorns the Route 238 overpass; REACH Ashland Youth Center artists are completing murals for local businesses; new parks and affordable housing are coming; and residents are organizing to promote a tree planting program for the community.
“East 14th is a major economic and transportation lifeline,” says Tyler Dragoni, Ashland resident and community organizer. In his eyes, advocating for safety, public art, and protected bike lanes are all part of an ongoing community-building process. “Residents are getting a taste of the results of self-governance and community organizing,” he says.
Now that residents are organized and have successfully won bikeways, bus facilities, and pedestrian improvements on E. 14th Street in Ashland, the design process will kick off this fall for Mission Boulevard in Cherryland (Route 238 to Rose Street).
As construction continues on Mission Boulevard in South Hayward, we are working with city staff and local partners to develop a design for a much trickier section in North Hayward (Rose Street to A Street). With only 80 feet of road width, the challenge is to create a separated bikeway design that also leaves open the opportunity for future bus-only lanes.
The first impulse for traffic engineers was to assert that there was no space for bike lanes. After some pushing, engineers suggested removing space from the existing sidewalk to create narrow bike lanes. Knowing that smaller sidewalks and cramped bike lanes on a busy four-lane street was a lose-lose situation, Bike East Bay advocates pushed further, and the city is now exploring a raised, sidewalk-level bikeway that separates bikes from traffic. This concept allows for comfortable but narrower space between bikes and other users than usually recommended for protected bike lanes.
As design refinements continue, Bike East Bay is working with Community Resources for Independent Living (an organization serving people with disabilities) and AC Transit to ensure that the street redesign will prioritize access for people with disabilities, riding transit, walking, and biking. Together, we have advocated for improved curb ramps, pedestrian safety features, and expanded bus boarding areas—making sure the street works for all travelers.
Piece by piece, this important corridor is becoming a people-first street. The next major challenge will be to address bike and pedestrian access in “The Loop”: the much-reviled one-way configuration that surrounds Hayward’s business district.
While serious challenges lie ahead, tackling the corridor piece by piece is an opportunity to collaborate with partners and local organizers, making sure community is at the forefront while we advocate to make E. 14th Street/Mission Boulevard a street for everyone.
Get updates on central Alameda County at BikeEastBay.org/Eden