The ambitious Bay Trail project received a vital link recently with the completion of the Christie Avenue Bay Trail Gap AKA “The Emeryville Connection”. A special ribbon-cutting ceremony on Bike to Work Day officially anointed the section deemed one of the most desirable bike projects by Bike East Bay and was completed roughly three years after conception. This connectivity, although small, paves the way for a continuous ride from Richmond all the way to San Leandro. Of the Bay Trail’s planned 500 miles, 345 are already in place, but key gaps remain. Emeryville TV produced the above video of the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Bike East Bay was instrumental in lobbying various agencies to support the project including winning the $550,000 grant Emeryville received from the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC). The success of this project also became a milestone since Emeryville’s new link became the first project completed using the MTC’s One Bay Area Grants (OBAG). Additional funding was provided with county Measure B funds and the Measure F Alameda County Vehicle Registration Fee (VRF) that was approved by voters in 2010.
Christie Avenue Features
Emeryville’s City Engineer and Public Works Director Maurice Kaufman noted Emeryville displaced a single lane of vehicle traffic on Christie to construct this path. The bike path runs the one-way section of Christie Avenue between Black Bear Diner and The Powell Street Plaza mall and includes a landscaped cross walk with safety-yellow rubberized flooring runs. The detour from along the bay through the interior of our city is one of the more urban links of the trail. A more direct route that would extend through McLaughlin Eastshore State Park remains a challenge as it is a protected wildlife and tidelands sanctuary.
The flowered and landscaped curve suggests an oasis, an urban park path, safe from the heavy car traffic running parallel but separate on the other side. More solid protection comes from a curb not just a painted white line on the street. A wide and fluorescent green section between the parking lot to Black Bear Diner and the Four Corners Hotel creates a safety barrier with color and texture. A dedicated bike traffic light at Christie and Shellmound displays bicycle signals.
A trimmed green lawn and shady trees surround Black Bear Diner, with its family of life-size wooden bears in the woods, adding to a park-like, if touristy, feel. A tall and decorative park light stands over the path. The section is also well serviced by public transportation services including our free Emery Go-Round shuttle, AC Transit’s F-line to Berkeley via Adeline and AC Transits Line 57 through Emeryville via Shellmound.
Room For Improvement?
Some riders we’ve spoken with have noted the difficulty of crossing two lanes of vehicle traffic on Shellmound to get to the median while traveling north and the precariousness at the crosswalk at the Powell & Christie intersection while traveling South. Bike East Bay Education Director Robert Prinz validated these concerns and recommended changes including a flashing yellow light on the corner of Powell/Christie that would be activated by the pedestrian crosswalk. Prinz also recommended the use of painted green/white ladder crosswalks which is becoming a standard for bike priority lanes and increases driver caution. The City approved the Powell Street Urban Design Plan in 2011 that would address the safety concerns at this intersection but most recommendations have yet to be funded or implemented.
Planned Golden Gate Fields Link
Another critical Bay Trail gap has been remedied with the recent announcement that Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley will donate a 4.88-acre easement of waterfront property to the East Bay Regional Park District. “This is a boon for bicyclists, joggers, bird watchers and thousands of others who enjoy the Bay Trail,” noted East Bay Regional Park District board member Whitney Dotson through the Golden Gate Fields website.
Construction and Design are expected to take several years and will include a twenty-foot wide paved bicycle and pedestrian path. The stretch between Albany Beach and Berkeley’s Gilman Street includes views of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Bay and Mt. Tamalpais. “We are very grateful to Golden Gate Fields and their parent company, the Stronach Group, for this gift which will benefit generations of Bay Area residents” added Dotson.
The Grand Prize: Bay Bridge Path to Treasure Island … and Beyond!
Emeryville’s bike-ability is poised to get another boost this year. After several well-publicized delays, The Bay Bridge Bike-Ped path from Emeryville/Oakland to Treasure Island remains on schedule to open this fall according to spokesperson Leah Robinson-Leach.
Beyond that, a connection on the Western span of the Bay Bridge is being studied for feasibility but is probably at least a decade away. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has a dedicated section of their website to promote this exiting plan.
Access to Marin by bike will also become a reality with a planned $25 million bike/ped path project. The right shoulder on eastbound I-580 to a third traffic lane will be converted from the Marine Street exit in Point Richmond to Sir Francis Drake Blvd. in San Rafael. Path users will be separated from traffic by a concrete barrier system. The Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) expects to complete construction of the path late in the summer of 2017.
A map of the entire planned entire 500-mile trail can be viewed on BayTrail.org
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