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Friday, January 28, 2011

Photo Gives Expression Of Political Power

A Portrait Of Power
A Picture Of Juice In Emeryville; Who's Got It,Who Doesn't

Here's the Horton Street Bike Boulevard near Amtrak and its infamous and dangerous yellow curb bike lane.  This photo depicts the struggle between two special interest groups in Emeryville; automobile/business interests and bike/resident interests.  Can you tell which one has the city council's ear?

Twice over the last few years the City's own Bike Pedestrian Committee unanimously voted to get rid of this yellow zone and twice council members Nora Davis and Ken Bukowski overrode the committee in favor of Wareham Development who wants their business tenants to have convenient truck parking (in this case dumpster) instead of a safe space for bikes to ride.

When vehicles park in the bike lanes, bikers must swerve out into the automobile travel lane to get around them and they point to accident studies that show this move is particularly dangerous.  But for Emeryville to paint the curb yellow alongside the bike lane and actively encourage drivers to block the bike lane is beyond the pale and it actually forces the bicyclists to break the law when they swerve out to avoid hitting the trucks.  The vehicle code states bikes must stay in bike lanes if they are provided.

Even though the above photo starkly depicts the behind the scenes political favors at City Hall and shows who's got the juice, this photograph is unremarkable in that it merely shows an every day scene on the Horton Street Bike Boulevard with nothing out of the ordinary taking place. The City of Emeryville talks a good talk about bikes and the virtues of "complete streets" and "multi-modal transportation" but in any political contest between cars and bikes, invariably it's the car driver's pain that the city council feels.


  1. This indeed shows where Emeryville council has their priorities : with unscrupulous developers who build shoddy, leaky condos that need to be evacuated & gutted every rainy season.

  2. It's always a challenge incorporating loading zones into good commercial/office design. This particular loading zone should have be designed as a parking bay so that trucks could pull over out of the bike lane. It wasn't and unfortunately, these businesses need somewhere to load. If the is nowhere else to locate the loading area. then at this point it looks like there isn't enough space to rectify the situation.

  3. I don't live in Emeryville but I use Horton Street as my bike commute through town almost every day. This yellow zone has almost been the death of me. While moving around parked trucks, I almost was hit twice. This yellow zone isn't all of the problem. Illegal trucks park everywhere in the red zone blocking the bike lanes along this section of Horton. It seems like Emeryville doesn't really care about supporting bikers rights.

  4. the above commentor is correct about the freight and delivery trucks. i walk this block almost every morning and i voiced my complaint about this many times. if you look at all the wareham buildings on hollis and horton avenue, none of them have enough space for delivery trucks. how did this get through the planning commission, even though they are appointed, not elected? safeway, praxair, ups, fed ex to mention a few.
    what will happen with the wareham project on hollis between 59th and powell and the transit center when they are completed?

  5. The only good solution at this stage is to remove the ineffective bike lanes and replace them with bike blvd stencils, at the same time as removing te center lines like on other parts of Hollis and Overland. Then widen the sidewalks at all areas of the street to narrow it except in areas where loading is encouaged, and at these spots create bays for the trucks to pull into, almost like a bus stop. There should really be no through auto traffic on Hollis Overland anyway, so I would also like to see some of the intersections blocked off, stop signs removed, and the speed limits reduced to around 15 or 20 mph near the Amtrak station. Only then do we really start to have what I would call a bike boulevard, an inviting north-south route through the city for cyclists of all ages and abilities.

  6. Response to anonymous poster who was almost hit twice while moving around parked trucks-Why???? Don't you look before you pass? I'm sick and tired of bicycle riders who think they own the road. Running red lights-cutting in front of traffic-disobeying traffic laws- etc etc... Get a @#$%in car or quit whining!!!

  7. Caution: Sitting for long periods in a closed motor-propelled vehicle may make people ornery and can lead to excessive cussing.

  8. The fault is with Wareham and it's conniving leader Rich Robbins. He owns half of Berkeley and Emeryville. He KNEW that he needed a loading zone for his building---he has built perhaps 100 bldgs. The building has a garage but Robbins made sure it would be too low for a truck to enter. Why suffer the expense and loss of profit associated with incorporating a loading zone INTO your bldg when you can foist the expense on the taxpayer and have a loading zone in the bike lane? All it takes is a call to Nora and you have no problems (if you're the 'right' person in this town). The planning commissioners who approved of this should be shot from a cannon at dawn.