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Eyes on the Street: Telegraph in Temescal Gets its Makeover

11:33 AM PDT on September 1, 2020

After years of outreach and political fights between safe-streets advocates and merchants opposed to lane reductions and loss of parking, Oakland's Telegraph Avenue in Temescal, between 51st and MacArthur, now has protected bike lanes and improved intersections. This is in addition to the recently upgraded protected bike lanes on lower Telegraph, in the KONO section.

This was a long time coming. From Bike East Bay:

Over the years as OakDOT has developed designs for repaving Telegraph, bike lanes were always in the mix. City Council approved bike lanes on Telegraph as part of the 1999 and 2007 Bicycle Master Plans, and is proposing bike lanes on Telegraph in the Bicycle Plan update. The Council unanimously approved bike lanes on the entire stretch of Telegraph as part of the 2014 Telegraph Avenue Complete Street Plan.

OakDOT piloted and proved low-cost protected intersections in a separate project around the Lake Merritt BART Station. This time they integrated this design with parking-protected bike lanes, rather than having right-turning motorists attempt to zipper with cyclists going straight in a merge zone.

At MacArthur, cyclists don't have to jog for position with right-turning motorists. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick
At MacArthur, cyclists don't have to jog for position with right-turning motorists in a merge zone. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

Advocates seem happy with the new designs after years of hard political work to inch this project forward. Here's a tweet from Bike East Bay's Robert Prinz, delighted at seeing families biking through Temescal:

OakDOT also added these pavement treatments pictured below, bumps along an outer radius turn, to give inattentive motorists audible and tactile feedback if they're taking a turn too sharply and getting close to the bollards, giving them a chance to adjust their turns:

the bumps keep motorists from turning too tightly.
The bumps remind motorists not to turn too tightly.

The redesign also eliminated a vehicle lane in each direction and added more visible crosswalks.

Yellow bollards denote a crosswalk
Yellow bollards denote a crosswalk

There's more to come. "The Temescal project construction is far from complete, so it’s still hasty to say yet what is/isn’t working. Elements on the way this year include concrete bus boarding islands, the closure of Shattuck from 45th-46th, added parking meters on side streets, mid-block curb ramps to improve parking accessibility, replacement of the on-street bike corrals, more striping including a red bus queue jump lane at 51st, and signal timing fixes," wrote Prinz in an email to Streetsblog. "Additional projects coming in 2021 will also upgrade the plaza at the south end of Shattuck even further, add flashing beacons on crosswalks along Telegraph and Shattuck, add connecting bike lanes and crosswalk upgrades on Claremont from Telegraph to Hudson, and complete the Telegraph bikeway gap between W MacArthur and 29th Street via buffered bike lanes."

Of course, the pushback also continues, albeit a bit more sporadically, from merchants. Recently, there was a fresh call to remove the lanes from the KONO section. However, as more and more protected lane goes in and the data continues to come in confirming that this is a safer configuration, with demonstrably positive effects on merchants, it's becoming less politically tenable to talk about removal.

And, as Prinz pointed out, the city has to fill in the long gap of Telegraph between Temescal and the Kono, from 29th to MacArthur, where the street is still two lanes in each direction of dangerous, fast moving traffic. Below is the view just south of MacArthur, where cyclists are dumped back into fast-moving traffic:


Have you ridden through Temescal recently? Tell us what you think. A few more photos below:

New lanes for bikes and scooters

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