Since the cycle track’s official ribbon-cutting earlier this month, local online forums and newspapers have been filled with comments both positive and negative about the $1 million project.
One resident impacted by the change wrote to this publication to say that the revised street parking configuration barely provides enough room to open a car door, and transformed a “quiet and peaceful environment into puzzlement of lane markers, reflectors, dividers, etc.”
Boosters of the track counter that track better separates bicycles from cars and pedestrians, and that the plans have been in the works since 1974.
But it was only in 2012 that the exact configuration of improved bicycle access along Shore Line Drive was determined.
And one alternative to the controversial cycle track that was ultimately implemented – expanding the existing asphalt path along shoreline drive to provide space for cyclists and pedestrians – was dismissed by city planners based on a reference to a 1989 East Bay Regional Parks District study that neither the City of Alameda nor the parks district can produce.
According to a November, 2012, City of Alameda staff report on public meetings organized to consider alternatives – paint bike lanes on Shore Line Drive, widen the existing path, or create the cycle track – “The East Bay Regional Park District studied a path widening option in 1989. According to a City Council staff report on December 8, 1989, ‘The Park District does not feel there is adequate area or conditions to construct a parallel sidewalk to separate the pedestrians from the bicyclists that use the pathway adjacent to Shore Line Drive.'”
That study, however, was not apparently available for consideration in the public meeting process in 2012, as neither the City Clerk for the City of Alameda, nor the Public Works Department Transportation Coordinator for the project could produce it in response to a public records request.
The coordinator, Gail Payne, told Action Alameda News, “My contact at EBRPD is Britt Thorsnes. I remember checking with her predecessor – Kevin Takei – who was not able to locate it.
Payne, however, did provide two 1989 City of Alameda memos, which referenced the parks district study, and one of which indicated the City of Alameda was “developing proposals to restripe Shore Line Drive to provide onstreet bike lanes.”
A public relations specialist at the parks district was also unable to locate a copy of the 1989 study in response to a public records request.
A summary of comments from a May 10, 2012 community meeting, available on the City of Alameda’s project website, tallied 46 comments in favor of bike lanes, 21 comments opposed, and 12 comments in favor of widening the existing path.
Participants were almost evenly split on the question of reducing automobile travel lanes on Shore Line Drive – the report tallies 35 comments in support of lane reductions, 33 opposed, and two in favor of retaining two eastbound lanes on Shore Line drive. (There is only one now with the cycle track as implemented.)
Pressed for tallies in the written record showing support for the cycle track as implemented, Payne wrote:
I do not remember stating exact tallies in the staff report. Here’s what I have:
– Support bike lanes: 104 participants
– Oppose bike lanes: 49 participants
– Want beach side bikeway: 68 participants
– Want widen path: 35 participants
All nine tables at the June 28, 2012 community meeting reached consensus on the cycle track/beach side bikeway option.
Another tally shows:
– In favor of project: 59 percent (126 participants)
– Not in favor of project: 36 percent (76 participants)
– Undecided: 5 percent (11 participants)
By the end of November, 2012, city officials had resolved to pursue the cycle track alternative, as ultimately implemented.
The then-twenty-three year old Parks District study was not, apparently, available for review or reconsideration by city planners or members of the public.