Cyclists cry foul over Stargell access
Cyclists are crying foul over what they claim was an executive decision on the part of public works staffers to nix a bike path along newly constructed Wilver “Willie” Stargell Avenue, instead dropping what they said is a sidewalk in its place.
“These changes were made during construction by public works staff. They were not reviewed by the public. They were not reviewed by the Planning Board, by the planning department. We can’t have individual staff and departments making decisions and undermining the process,” Dan Wood, co-founder of BikeAlameda, told the Planning Board on Monday night.
Wood, who said is group worked actively to ensure the Stargell construction would include good bike access, said cyclists using the path noticed it was not quite what they thought had been approved. When they went back to check, they found the original plans called for a 10-foot-wide bike path that was separated from car traffic. But what was built was an eight-foot-wide sidewalk, Wood said – one that cyclists said isn’t wide enough for them to use.
He and other cyclists said they wants the problem fixed, and they want changes in the process that will ensure that new construction is built as approved by city leaders.
“The public, and boards and commissions need to know that what is on paper is what is being followed and that if changes are necessary, these changes will be properly reviewed with enough input that the BEST solution for all modes of transportation can be realized,” BikeAlameda’s co-founder and Wood’s wife, Lucy Gigli, wrote to members over the weekend.
Supervising civil engineer Obaid Khan said the path is 10 feet wide – an eight-foot concrete path with two feet of softer surface between the path and the fence circling the College of Alameda. Still, he said public works is trying to address the concerns. He said they are seeking to widen the path and are talking to the college to see if they’ll remove the fence, making more room.
“We are definitely open to the concerns that have been brought to our attention. We are looking at solving it,” Khan told the Planning Board on Monday.
But Planning Board members, who noted that the concerns came just as the board was set to put its stamp of approval on updates to the city’s bicycle plan, said they want a public rundown of what happened and what fixes can be made. They also want to know why the plans never came back to the board even though they said they were supposed to.
“We want to make sure plans are implemented in the way we approved them and that we have adequate bicycle and pedestrian facilities out there,” board member Rebecca Kohlstrand said.