East Bay: New Bridge, Big Bucks, Bike Stencils By David Campbell, Vice-Chair, East Bay Bicycle Coalition

Just a year younger than the SFBC, the East Bay Bicycle Coalition will celebrate its 30th birthday next year. It has lots of successes and some challenges to report.

New bicycle-pedestrian bridge to Berkeley Marina

A new I-80 bike-ped overpass will enable cyclists to travel safely and comfortably from one side of the freeway to the other.
Above Interstate 80 now stands an impressive steel arch nearly 300 feet long, spanning the entire width of the freeway. When completed, Berkeley's I-80 bicycle-pedestrian-wheelchair overpass will be one of the few magnificent transportation structures in the Bay Area not designed for cars. To the hundreds of thousands of motorists who will pass beneath it every day on one of the world's busiest stretches of freeway, it will be a lasting and highly visible statement that there are healthy alternatives to the eternal, frustrating congestion of the Bay Area.

The new bridge, which will open to the public by the end of 2001, connects Berkeley's industrial and residential west side with the Berkeley Marina and soon to be completed Bay Trail, closing a gap created by the freeway many decades ago.

County bicycle plans near completion

Last spring Alameda County completed its first countywide bicycle plan (online at www. accma.ca.us/bicycle). The plan expands upon the typical process of "connecting-the-dots," by including a focus on access to transit stations. It recognizes a one-mile radius around each transit station as a high priority area for funding bicycle improvements.

The Alameda County Bicycle Plan also lays the framework for hiring a countywide bicycle coordinator - a first for the county of Alameda. The EBBC is working with staff at our Congestion Management Agency and our Transportation Authority to work out the details of this position. Contra Costa County is in the process of developing its own bicycle plan, as well.

Cyclists fight for freeway access in Brentwood

In one of the fastest growing suburban areas in the state, cyclists in east Contra Costa County are fighting for bicycle access to the soon-to-open State Route 4 Bypass that will connect the cities of Antioch and Brentwood. Currently, plans are to construct a Class I bike path along side the roadway right of way, but such a path is many years and millions of dollars away. Cyclists need access now, particularly since the new "freeway" has severed the only safe bicycle access between Antioch and Brentwood. The East Bay Bicycle Coalition, working with the Delta Pedalers, is working with city and county staff to ensure that Caltrans' Deputy Directive 64 is followed and bicyclist access is secured.

Measure B brings big bucks for bikes

Last year, Alameda County reauthorized its equivalent of San Francisco's 1/2 cent transportation sales tax, and did so at the polls with 82% voter approval. A combination of factors led to such an overwhelming victory: horrific congestion, a booming economy at the time, and a process of including all travel modes in the expenditure plan.

The EBBC was successful at securing a 5% set-aside for bicycle and pedestrian projects, which will provide approximately $5 million per year to the county for non-motorized projects. Bicyclists worked closely with consultants hired to develop the spending plan and with several of the key elected officials supportive of alternative modes. Success was also secured by making a lot of noise at public meetings.

New Measure B money starts flowing to cities and the county, as well as the Park District, next June. Between now and then, bicyclists need to work with each of Alameda County's 14 cities to make sure they are prepared to spend the money. The EBBC is proposing that Caltrans' new Deputy Directive 64 be used to incorporate bicycle access into all new projects, with Measure B money providing a source of money to complete necessary funding requirements.

Bike stencils in the lane

New bike stencils in Berkeley boldly proclaim cyclists' right to the lane.
Bike stencils in Oakland and Berkeley are beginning to escape their bike lanes and take command of the travel lane. Grand Avenue in Oakland has received a "road diet," going from six lanes to five, with bike lanes for almost its entire length. However, for a two-block stretch between Broadway and Telegraph bike stencils positioned right in the middle of the traffic lane serve to alert motorists that bicyclist are expected to "take the lane." (There was no room on this stretch for bike lanes without removing parking). In Berkeley, even larger bike stencils now reside in the middle of Hillegass Avenue, all along the length of this bicycle boulevard.

The stencils are part of a growing effort to provide safe conditions for cyclists on streets where room for bike lanes is limited. For busier streets where stencils are used, it is also necessary to slow traffic in order to reduce the speed difference between the cars and bikes, and then to provide sufficient signage and other markings to alert motorists that this particular stretch of road is a "take the lane" area.

Need East Bay bicycle maps?

If you ride in the East Bay, we encourage you to pick up a pair of EBBC's Bicycle Transportation Maps. The West of the Hills Map covers Hercules down to Fremont, including Berkeley and Oakland. The East of the Hills Map covers Walnut Creek, the Tri-Valley area, and eastern Contra Costa County (Brentwood). Go to www.ebbc.org for more information on our work in the East Bay.