Oakland’s Safe Routes to Transit grant applications

26 Jul

Since several of you seemed to enjoy my report on a recent AC Transit meeting, I thought I’d share some of what happened at last week’s Oakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meeting. Though there were several interesting items on the agenda, some were a bit too complex for a quick report or were just brief reports so I’m going to focus here on one agenda item – Oakland’s Safe Routes to Transit (SR2T) grant applications.

From TransForm’s website, here’s a description of the SR2T regional program:

The Safe Routes to Transit (SR2T) Program awards $20 million in grants to facilitate walking and bicycling to regional transit. The program is funded by Regional Measure 2, and is administered by TransForm and the East Bay Bicycle Coalition. By improving the safety and convenience of biking and walking to regional transit, SR2T will give commuters the opportunity to leave their cars at home, and reduce congestion on Bay Area bridges. Learn about the creation of SR2T...

To date nearly $12 million has been awarded to over 30 capital and planning projects.

SR2T funds may be used for:

    • Secure bicycle storage at transit stations/stops/pods
    • Safety enhancements for ped/bike station access to transit stations/stops/pods
    • Removal of ped/bike barriers near transit stations
    • System-wide transit enhancements to accommodate bicyclists or pedestrians

The application deadline for the fourth cycle of grants out of five cycles is approaching, and Oakland Senior Transportation Planner Bruce Williams told us last Thursday about the applications Oakland is submitting. Since SR2T doesn’t fund projects all the way from conception to construction, the first project is a capital project and the other two are planning projects (though Oakland could ask for capital grants for these two projects in the next funding cycle.

19th Street BART Bike Station

Though I don’t bike, every time I pass the Downtown Berkeley bike station, I think about how awesome it would be for Oakland to have one. There’s the obvious reason it would benefit Oakland – it would encourage more people to bike and provide bicyclists with a secure place to leave their bike downtown, whether they were riding BART or not. Maybe less obvious is that it would help with downtown revitalization. The Berkeley bike station was an empty storefront for quite some time, and now that it’s been activated, that whole block feels more welcoming. The same could be true for an Oakland bike station.

Ada Chan from Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan’s office told us about the plans for the bike station (assuming Oakland receives this grant). Two sites are being considered – one on 19th and Broadway and the other at 17th in between Telegraph and Broadway. (Both sites have been vacant for years.) Either site would include:

  • Valet parking for up to 150 bikes
  • Bike services to include light repair
  • Incidental retail
  • A bike kitchen with benches available for rent
  • Office and meeting pace for Walk Oakland Bike Oakland
  • Possible coffee sales

The estimated capital cost for the project is $600,000, so I hope the City receives this grant. In terms of operating costs, the City is working with BART to figure that out, though Kaplan has offered to use some of her pay go funds to help fund operations for the first two years. Also, the City and BART are discussing whether to charge a dollar a day for bike parking (the other BART bike stations are free).

Fruitvale Avenue Gap Closure

Though there are many miles of bikeways and pedestrian friendly streets in Oakland, a major problem is that most of them have gaps. So you can bike or walk safely for blocks or even miles, but then to get to the next stretch of bikeway or walkway, you have to go through blocks or miles of unimproved road or sidewalk. One such gap is on Fruitvale Avenue between East 8th and East 12th Streets, where improvements are currently being made on both sides of the gap but there are no plans to improve this stretch.

The goal of this planning project would be to improve bicycle and pedestrian travel and particularly to increase safety, especially under the freeway – possibly with lighting – and crossing railroad tracks. These improvements would make it safer and more inviting to walk or bike to BART. The cost of this project – $75,000-100,000

20th Street Bike & Pedestrian Improvements

Through Measure DD, major bike and pedestrian improvements are being implemented around Lake Merritt, including a super awesome project at Snow Park. While it’s great that it will now be even more pleasant to get around the lake, it’s not as useful if there’s not an easy way to get to the lake. Improving 20th Street would have the dual benefit of improving bike and ped access to the lake and to the 19th Street BART Station.

Here are some of the issues this planning project would address:

  • Pedestrian path of travel, particularly on the east side of 20th Street can be dangerous and congested during peak commute hours
  • This stretch of 20th is on the bike plan, but lacks bicycle facilities
  • There is considerable opportunity to rethink current auto travel lanes, parking, and bus stop configuration to increase bicycle and pedestrian safety
  • BART entrance at 20th Street could use a larger entry plaza for safety

I often walk down this stretch of 20th and think about how, at the very least, the sidewalks should be widened or bulbouts should be added at several intersections so I’m excited about this project. Dave Campbell from East Bay Bicycle Coalition recommended expanding the scope of the project to include more areas around the BART station so I recommended including planning to add pedestrian signals at several intersections on 19th and 17th (Broadway, Franklin, Webster). All of those intersections have huge pedestrian traffic, and everyday I think how much better (and less frightening) the pedestrian experience would be downtown if pedestrian signals were added, as it’s quite difficult to time crossings using car traffic signals.

This project is also expected to cost $75,000-100,000. All of these projects seem very worthwhile, so let’s hope they get fully funded by SR2T.

Want to learn more about what the Bicycle & Pedestrian Facilities Program is up to? Check out the Summer 2011 I Bike Oakland newsletter.

2 Responses to “Oakland’s Safe Routes to Transit grant applications”

  1. Marc July 27, 2011 at 8:21 am #

    I don’t know why 19th St BART can’t hold a bike station below ground, a place where BART already owns the property. It seems that there is a lot of space on the faregate level that isn’t being used for anything. That approach wouldn’t lead to 24 hour access, but I suspect that most bicyclists could live with a mirroring of BART hours.

    Although the valet parking sites (Fruitvale, downtown Berkeley) are free, the 24-hour self-service facilities (Ashby, downtown Berkeley, Embarcadero) are not free. To get a card that allows access to the 24-hour facilities, one must pay $20 to the BikeStation company, $5 of which is taken upon first use as a “security fee.” Thereafter, the bicyclist pays a small fee, 3 cents an hour from 8am – 8pm and 1 cent an hour at other times via the BikeStation card (which will be automatically reloaded when you deplete the remaining $15). But $1 per day is outrageous — unless, of course, they could show that the construction and operating expenses are as high as a parking lot or parking garage.

    Link: http://bartbikestation.com/getstarted.php

  2. grrljock July 29, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

    I agree that it would make most sense to have a bike station at the 19th St. BART below ground. The valet bike parking is very nice, but the Fruitvale one is only open on weekdays (don’t know about the other ones). And yeah, $1/day for bike parking is outrageous. Though maybe it just underlines how cheap car parking is. It’s actually cheaper for me to drive my car to the BART station and park there rather than take AC Transit.

    Yay for the news about upcoming improvements in the Fruitvale Ave Gap. Though the insanity of that stretch of roadway affects everyone, pedestrians and cyclists are certainly more vulnerable than motorists.

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