Central Ave. Plan Must Consider Everyone’s Needs

Central Ave. Plan Must Consider Everyone’s Needs

Residents, businesses, city staff and bicyclists will have their last say with the City Council on Feb. 24 for the future of Central Avenue’s design. Proponents claim it will make the street safer for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists. They fail to mention that the Central Avenue project favors bicyclists’ needs over the existing business needs. It takes away parking spaces near some businesses. It removes an existing truck loading zone area for businesses on the north side of Central Avenue between Webster and Sixth streets. 

There are parking spaces added down between Fourth and Pacific streets. I guess the designers want you to park down at Fourth Street and walk back to Webster Street in order to make up for the parking spaces taken away.

They also fail to mention the cycletrack: A normal street design of fast lane, slower lane, slowest lane, parking and sidewalk is what most people see in street designs. The cycletrack creates a fast lane, a parking area, a bicycle lane with bicycles traveling at 10 to 15 mph to the right of cars, and then a sidewalk or trail. 

Cycletracks should be banned around businesses and residences. Businesses and residences were there first. Business owners and residents near the new cycletrack will have to negotiate a 9-foot multi-use trail, a 10-foot cycletrack, and eight feet for parked cars, before negotiating street traffic. Those owners and their visitors will have strange new experiences when accessing their driveways. 

While pulling out of their driveways they will have to watch out for pedestrians, then a lane of bicycle traffic from both directions, then pull out farther in-between parked cars to look for both vehicle traffic along Central in front of them while having to be concerned that a bicyclist does not strike their vehicles while they are waiting for a break in the traffic. 

Alameda residents and businesses did not tell the city, “I want you to build a cycletrack in front of my house or business so that I have a more difficult time in entering and leaving my business or residence every day.” Businesses and residents will be the biggest losers in this project.

Three-lane street consideration must be taken into account. Central Avenue was compared with Fernside Boulevard and Broadway (in Alameda). Since the three-lane design “works” for those streets, it “should” work for Central. However, those streets do not have many businesses on them. 

Businesses have delivery needs. It makes deliveries much more difficult when there is no safe place for them to stop. When FedEx, UPS or a garbage truck wants to stop anywhere along the target redesign area of Central, traffic must completely halt, may not pass, and must wait until the truck leaves. The center left turn lane may not be used for passing around a stopped vehicle. When you implement a three-lane street, you must plan buffer areas for businesses. No such planning has been done. West Alameda businesses along Central Avenue should state their case with the City Council.

There is a need for redesigning the intersection of Sixth Street and Central Avenue. The project was mostly designed by bicycle advocates without listening to speakers who live in the area. Local residents have openly discussed many times that they need a signal light or other amenities other than the crosswalk. Thanks, city, for not listening. The city appears to only listen to bicycle advocates and not to others.

The Alameda Transportation Commission (ATC) did little to mitigate any resident or business concerns. The ATC approved the project as proposed. It is amazing that at each ATC meeting and workshop the project plans changed each iteration. Sections 1,2,3, and 4 became 1, 2A, 2B, and 3, and are now sections A through K. It is difficult to match up comments when section 3 might have been the original section 3, or the newer section 3, or the latest sections J and K (or maybe it was sections F and G).

The Public Works Department has the luxury of being judge, jury and executioner when it comes to the workshops presented to the public. The folks at Public Works made their workshop presentation. They allowed questions from the general public, limited the number of questions and often diluted that number by calling upon BikeWalkAlameda leaders. 

I saw local residents leave the last workshop utterly disgusted with the “dog and pony show” format. When Public Works reported the results of that final workshop to the ATC, they reported that all of the table’s speakers were in favor of the project. There was no 
mention of disregarded needs brought up by residents and businesspeople. 

Why am I so concerned about projects such as this one? These projects are funded with taxpayer dollars. I prefer to see taxpayer dollars spent on projects that a cross-section of residents endorse, not just a one-sided demographic. Was the business community actively involved in creating the plans? What are the needs of the people who live and work along that corridor? 

Were the residents who live along the project as actively involved in the plans as the bicyclists? Any grant money project involving public funds should be subject to project reports by an independent panel of residents with no ties to project proponents. That panel should have access to e-mails, income and expenses for such projects.

See what the city has in mind at: alamedaca.gov/public-works/central-avenue-complete-street.

Regardless of previous meetings and workshops, please plan on attending and speaking at the Feb. 24 meeting in the City Council Chambers, which begins at 7 p.m.