Oakland racing to meet demand for bike lanes
For years, neither the city nor its residents had the time or resources to worry about bike lanes or calm streets. But things are changing. The rise in demand for bike lanes and bike racks comes, in part, from the city’s changing demographics.
“There’s really significant interest (in bike lanes) now in North Oakland, West Oakland, downtown and the neighborhoods around Lake Merritt,” Patton said. In the past three years, the number of people riding bikes in the city has climbed 15 percent, Patton said. Between 2000 and 2010, according to census figures, the number of people riding bikes to work in Oakland has gone up 140 percent.
The city, meanwhile, has installed 30 miles of bike lanes in the past three years. Roughly 140 miles of bike lanes crisscross the city. “We’re basically installing bike facilities as quickly as we can with the resources we have,” Patton said.
Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, a regular bike rider, said she is concerned by the number of potholes in Oakland’s streets. In March, the city paid $3.2 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a cyclist who went into a medically induced coma for four days after she struck a pothole in the Oakland hills. “Pothole filling is really important for bicycling,” Kaplan said.
In addition to the roughly $1.6 million Oakland spends to repave roads each year, a “fair” portion of the city’s $350,000 bicycle infrastructure improvement budget is spent on filling potholes, Patton said.
This month the city unveiled a plan to install raised bike lanes – a separate tier from the sidewalk – along parts of Telegraph Avenue, one of the busiest biking streets in Oakland. “There is this really large volume of people that are moving from the North Oakland/Berkeley area to downtown,” Patton said. We want to improve the street “so that Telegraph can live up to its potential. Very few people are happy with Telegraph in its current form.”
It could be more than a decade before the raised bike lanes are installed, Patton said.