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17-mile Bus Rapid Transit and Bicycle Lane to Link Berkeley, Oakland and San Leandro

January 12, 2010

From the San Francisco Chronicle – It’s been ten years since the cities of Oakland, Berkeley and San Leandro decided to move forward with the creation of a 17-mile Bus Rapid Transit system from downtown Berkeley to downtown San Leandro. Bus Rapid Transit, also in the planning stages in San Francisco, is a successful and cost-effective means of expanding transit service, using bus-only lanes to take the buses out of car traffic and achieve rail-like reliability. Next week, Oakland will hold the first of six pubic meetings on its plan to implement Bus Rapid Transit on Telegraph Avenue and International Blvd. The plan proposes creating what may be California’s longest complete street, with bike lanes, bus lanes, and pedestrian improvements across Oakland’s portion of the entire 17-mile route.

Oakland planners are using BRT as an opportunity to accomplish livability improvements that are currently stymied by Council inattention, resources, and legal barriers. You can read at FutureOakland Blog how bike lanes on Telegraph are a unique feature of this proposal:

In practice, the City’s Bike/Ped Program installs bike lanes when the opportunity arises, like when a street that’s on the BMP is being repaved for cars. This approach is extremely cost-effective, but frustrates cyclists who must use a patchwork of incomplete bicycle facilities. BRT installing bike lanes on Telegraph and International is a unique opportunity to create an entire 17-mile bike route in one fell swoop. But there’s another reason BRT is uniquely beneficial to bicyclists: without BRT, there would be no bike lane on Telegraph at all. Oakland’s 1999 Bicycle Master Plan EIR was successfully challenged in court, and the 2007 Bicycle Master Plan had to abandon bike lanes on Telegraph (using instead the Webster-Shafter route). Oakland’s transportation planners took advantage of the opportunity afforded by BRT to rethink Telegraph, and brought this much-wanted bike lane back from the dead.

Oakland plans to widen sidewalks, install bike lanes, add crosswalks and stoplights, and install rapid transit lanes across the entirety of the city. The cost? Street parking, much of which will have to be removed to accommodate the other modes. AC Transit is considering adding parking to affected areas, and looking into other ways to ensure the project’s warm reception. Learn more about the plan at FutureOaklandBlog.com, and visit OaklandBRT.com for information about the public meetings.

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