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Urban Commuting on The Telegraph Ave. Bikeway

If you live in Oakland, there’s no way you’ve missed the hullabaloo of roadwork stretching from 27th Street to Broadway Avenue on Telegraph Avenue. A lot of people puzzled, between expletives, at what this massive project that congested traffic for so long could possibly be. But as smooth asphalt was laid and crisp lines were freshly painted, a new Telegraph Avenue began to emerge. This high traffic, pothole-pocked street suddenly was smooth and, perhaps more importantly, had a new lane that emerged between the sidewalk and the parked cars. This mysterious gap was what’s now referred to as the Telegraph Ave Bikeway.

For city cyclists, bikeways are a dream come true. They create a buffer between the sidewalk and the street, providing a safe lane for cyclists to ride without having to worry about vehicles. This has a two-fold benefit: they make biking safer and, as a result, encourage people who might not otherwise bike to take to 2 wheels for fun and commuting.

How To Use Bikeways

Here are some pro-tips on bikeway etiquette and safety for our friends on two, four and no wheels:

Bike Riders: Follow the green lanes to the bikeway, and once you’re there, keep an eye out for pedestrians and people stepping out of their car (they have the right of way). Keep it courteous with your fellow cyclists by making room for faster bikes to pass you and always using your hand signals if you plan on turning.

Pedestrians: Much like you were taught in grade school, always look both ways before you cross the street and the bikeway. Also, do not walk in the bikeway lanes, cyclists won’t be expecting you and you might cause an accident.

Motorists: It’s probably pretty obvious, but the bikeways are not for cars, so do not drive or park in them. Also, car passengers should exercise caution when exiting their car to make sure that no one is coming before they walk to the sidewalk. And when you’re turning at a cross street, make sure to look out for cyclists crossing in the bikeways, as they’re a bit removed from where they used to be.

Some History on Bikeways

Bikeways have a long, successful history here in the United States. The first bikeway in the world was constructed in Brooklyn in 1986. It was constructed by splitting the pedestrian-way so that cyclists would have a place to cruise safely away from pedestrians. While cars were obviously not the menace to cyclists that they are today, the international biking community took note of this idea and set about implementing it in their own countries. Though the bikeway has seen innovations over the years in countries like the Netherlands and Germany, it’s basic function and design has remained the same.

Do Bikeways Work?

The basic question remains: do they actually work? A friend and I recently hopped on our GenZe e-bikes and decided to see if life is the bikeway was really all that. For anyone who has biked down Telegraph you know that it’s a mess of scary buses cutting you off and doors being thrown open by parked cars. But the second we hit the bike lane on 29th and Telegraph it was an enormous breath of fresh air. When we reached 27th Street, the area where things start to get really hectic, we eased into the bikeway and immediately noticed how much safer we felt. The buffer between us and the cars really keeps you safe and eases all of your worries. After years of avoiding the nonsense of lower Telegraph Avenue, I had a new way to access downtown quickly and easily.

Oakland’s Future Bike Plan

Ultimately the Telegraph Avenue bikeway is one small step towards a much more bike-friendly Oakland. This year alone the city will be constructing additional bike lanes on upper Broadway, West MacArthur Boulevard, Clay Street, Oak Street, Madison Street, and Grand Avenue. By 2018, we will have bike lanes stretching north to 41st Street. While they won’t be bikeways, the lanes will be buffered from traffic in a way reminiscent of the bike lanes on Broadway Avenue near Oakland Tech High School. Community organizations such as Walk Oakland Bike Oakland and Bike East Bay are rallying to raise funds to see the Telegraph Avenue Bikeway and bike lane continued all the way to Berkeley. Oakland’s dedication to making itself more accessible to cyclists is extremely exciting, and as a long-term resident, I cannot wait to see this dramatic citywide makeover.

So hop on your bike and check out the Telegraph Avenue Bikeway for yourself and catch a glimpse of what Oakland’s bike-friendly future will look like! No bike? Not a problem, come and visit us at our Piedmont Avenue location and rent a GenZe e-bike and see for yourself how safe, fun and awesome the new bikeway really is. From novice riders to road champs, the Telegraph Avenue Bikeway is proof that urban biking is for everyone – no matter their skill level!

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