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Cyclists cry foul over Stargell access

Submitted by on 1, September 28, 2010 – 5:00 am5 Comments

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.

5 Comments »

  • Linda Hudson says:

    I agree that not following plans is very serious. However, that said, I would prefer riding on the road, where bicycles belong (see the California Vehicle Code). Side paths are only “safe” until you reach an intersection, when wham! you’re dumped into the roadway. I do hope that there will be plenty of signs for both motorists and cyclists at intersections. And, OMG, is this going to be a two-way side path? I think BikeAlameda should lead a riding workshop to help train cyclists when this issue is resolved.

  • Scott says:

    How about a bike path down atlantic too. there is that whole shoulder that is not being used between webster and main. Some reason Big rigs are parking in it

  • Chris Muir says:

    If only the section of Stargell that runs between the college and the Main St. had a bike path. It’s really fairly dangerous to ride there, because it’s narrow and the cars really zip by. There is plenty or room, I think.

  • Shannon says:

    There is a bike path along Main Street that the cyclists don’t use, which I don’t understand. Many cyclists go right down the middle of the road…which seems very dangerous.

  • Jon Spangler says:

    It is reassuring to know that not only my friends Dan Wood and lucy Gigli of BikeAlameda but also the conscientious members of the Planning Board are looking after the interests of cyclists as well as the City of Alameda.

    The intended design (not the altered one one that was built) was based on plans developed by an ad hoc task force of transit, bike, and pedestrian advocates that was formed in response to the round of freeway-style options ) that were first offered to Alamedans in about 1999.

    Dan Wood invited me to attend that meeting at Mastick Senior Center. We were both astounded at the freeway-like designs (with flyovers and worse) and their $20 – $30 million price tags. And none of these expensive designs incorporated direct, simple bike and ped access across Webster Street or Tinker Avenue (now Stargell Way).

    Working with then-Traffic Engineer Cheri Sheets over several months we came up with a design not unlike what was built recently, but with both on-street (Class 2) bike lanes and off-street (Class 1) bike paths. There was even a reception/public meeting to unveil this “Community-Based Plan for the (then) Tinker Avenue Interchange. And the price tag back in 2001(?) was about $14 million, not over $20 million. The approved plans for Willie Stargell Way differed only slightly from the original community-based plan.

    To see this truly community-based planning effort fall victim to a bureaucratic miscarriage is sad, indeed. It is also sad that my friend Obaid Khan may have been involved in what surely was a well-intentioned “improvement” to what was approved.

    I sincerely hope that the originally planned bike lanes and paths will be correctly implemented soon.

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