Years of Living Dangergously? Telegraph (In) Complete Streets/Community Meetings

September 8, 2014

Outdoors, Politics, Streets

Temescal Protected Bikeway Family

City Staff Come up with Some Crazy Stuff

If the City staff have their way, the long sought for “protected bike lanes” along Telegraph Avenue would be a pipe dream of Bike East Bay and the 70% of folks who came to the public meetings and asked for a continuous bike lane along Telegraph from 20th-57th St. How City staff can conduct these public open houses and get over 1100 responses via surveys and in person meetings and then recommend the most cautious and timid result is baffling. The idea of “sharrows” between 46th and 52nd is tantamount to doing nada. “Sharrow” in this case means “Share-Oh-No!” You can give them feedback by attending 1 of two meetings this week or by writing  Note that the Saturday meeting is from 10am-12pm, not 11am start on the poster.

It wouldn’t be so infuriating if the stakes weren’t so high. I am now very much of a minority bicyclist in the Temescal, not because I am a 55 year old woman who has never owned a car. More because I don’t ride the scary and dangerous by design street called Telegraph. A pedestrian was killed this last spring at 51st and Telegraph and I have seen a woman’s foot get run over in the crosswalk at 49th and Telegraph. I value my life too much to ride on Telegraph above 27th St and  I insist that we must have the political will to stop designing streets in Oakland for the cars who may maim and kill. We need to slow traffic down and get drivers who are making long across town stretches off Telegraph and onto the highways where they belong. I wrote a satirical piece back in April about How Temescal Could Get A Bike Snuggle. The East Bay Express covered the story this week as well.

Merchants and Residents Support the Protected Bike Lanes

Bike East Bay has done a good job of contacting both merchants and residents along Telegraph. Over 100 individual merchants have signed onto the petition for protected lanes because they are smart, know that many of their most loyal customers come by bike and that bicyclists and pedestrians spend more money than those who arrive by car! Check out the list of merchants including surprises like Genova Deli and Shaver and Cutlery and tell them you support their business.

Protected Bike Lanes vs Buffered Bike Lanes

In particular, the blocks from 46th-52nd, where traffic is the most congested, should be the most logical area for “protected bike lanes” which would mean the bike lane is against the curb and not in the way of opening doors and would eliminate dodging buses. Enlarge the diagram to see the difference.


Yes I understand that “buffered bike lanes” vs “protected bike lanes” would mean the loss of of over 100 parking spaces along Telegraph if they were implemented from 20th-57th St. Something has to give and some parking spaces can be relocated. Turn 48 and 49th from Telegraph to Shattuck to one way streets with diagonal parking, creating 19 new spaces.  According to City staff, this would require the fire chief to approve it and an ordinance passed by council as it’s too little feet for normal fire lane width. Then try! A piece of good news though is that when I was doing Rockridge Street Fair, the fire chief at that time interpreted the fire code and a fire lane to mean that a fire truck needed to be able to get within 100 feet of any building and I think even if a truck couldn’t get down the street easily, from the parking lot off Shattuck and on Telegraph it could certainly get within 100 feet.

We need staff to explore ALL ways to increase parking including 2 hour and meters on side streets throughout Temescal and KONO for the commercial portions that include a 1/2 block from Telegraph in all these areas–I’m confident we could increase parking spaces by 75-100 spaces–just putting in 2 hour parking on 45th St from Telegraph to Webster (where most is PG&E, ball field and International High School could provide 30-50? spaces, most of which right now is used for Rent a relic and Reed Bros cars. Rent a Relic rents space for some cars at the CalTrans lot near Hwy 24 and 55th St but get complacent and park a lot of cars in this area. 

Protected bike lanes have been proven time and time again to significantly increase both the numbers of riders and their safetySan Francisco experienced a 71% increase in bicycle ridership on its protected bikewaysEarly results from New York’s dedicated bikeways show crash reductions and ridership increases. Cities such as Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, Vancouver, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, and many more are adding protected bikeways in their downtown areas to get commuters to work and to transit stations and to get more people shopping. They are making cities more livable. If El Cerrito can do it, why can’t Oakland? See what El Cerrito has planned. 1.3 miles worth from Lincoln to Potrero, with standard bike lanes elsewhere. Here’s the info from the Bike East Bay page:. And here’s the actual plan, with the relevant info on page 168 of the PDF:
Optimize the Status Quo?
I ran into a City staffer over the weekend who told me that unfortunately, the role of City staff is to “optimize the status quo.” That is a sad comment when the staff should be encouraged to “optimize the possibilities.” Our job as citizens must be to push for what we know is in the best interests of Oaklanders. Only protected bike lanes will greatly decrease the likelihood from injury and death. Also we must do our part for climate change, getting folks out of their cars and onto safe streets.
The City Council recently decided to throw out staff recommendations with a high visibility vote favoring CalWaste for the contract to haul our waste. They even voted recently in Closed Session to uphold Oakland’s billboard ordinance and not approve any more digital billboards. I think we have the votes on Council with Kalb, McElhaney, Kaplan (unless she does her abstaining move), Schaff and possibly others. Anything can happen so let’s keep the pressure on. I am sick to death of living dangerously.


About Karen Hester

Karen Hester is a community activist and events coordinator who lives in North Oakland in Temescal Creek Cohousing. Her event productions website is She lives and breathes the fight to stop more billboards in Oakland and started

View all posts by Karen Hester

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