Search The Tattler

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pixar's "Bike Path To Nowhere" Opens

'Bike Path To Nowhere' Dubbed 
'Joseph Emery Park'

Seven months behind schedule, Pixar finally reveals the bike path formally known as the 'bike path to nowhere', now called Joseph Emery Park.  The paean to bad city planning and abject politics opened Wednesday without fanfare.  The path, or park, won the enmity of Emeryville's Bike / Pedestrian Committee last year when the city joined with Pixar and broke off negotiations with the unanimous committee over the contentious $700,000 corridor.
Below is a partial re-print from a December 10, 2010 Tattler story on the circuitous history that resulted in a bike/pedestrian committee voting against a bike/pedestrian path:

The strange story of the "bike path to nowhere" begins in the 1990's with a planned path extending north from City Hall along the trace of an old rail road spur a half block east and parallel to Hollis Street.  Starting at 45th Street and heading north, the old rail line has been turned into an alley known as Spur Alley.  Spur Alley was intended as a bike path but it has been instead turned over to cars in subsequent years because the city hasn't mustered the political will and because it never required the section heading south to City Hall at Haven Street to be built when Pixar took over the vacant land in 2000.  Instead, the city permitted Pixar to jog the incipient path over to the east two blocks to Watts Street owing to Pixar's need for secrecy.  This change happened just after the Bike Plan was first completed and was changed by a vote of the council.Then Pixar wanted to take possession of Watts Street and they were given the street by the city, so again the city permitted Pixar to jog the path east, this time to Emery Street.  This required another Bike Plan change.  Then Pixar planned a campus expansion so the city gave them Emery Street and granted Pixar permission to jog the path over to the east one last time to it's final resting place behind the I-Hop.  This last change also required a change to the Bike Plan.

Got all that?

The Pixar main gate is aligned with
 what used to be Watts Street
By the time of the last change when Pixar took possession of Emery Street, the Bike/Pedestrian Committee had enough of jogging this path to the east.  Committee members expressed dismay that the path was now so far shifted to the east that the original path was rendered useless for biking or walking.  The committee subsequently voted unanimously to let Pixar off the hook for building the path but asked that they give a cash payment to the city for the amount of money the path would have cost them to build.  The committee instructed the city to use the money to upgrade biking and pedestrian facilities throughout the city on a "as needed" basis.

Strangely, Pixar would have none of that and announced it planned to build the bike/ped path anyway, the committee be damned.  The city council ceded to Pixar's desire and the path, by now unofficially dubbed the "Bike Path To Nowhere" after the famous bridge in Alaska, is nearly completed.

The path may be seen here: Pixar Study


  1. The power of a 63 page report (not counting attachments) from "transportation consultants" to overwhelm common sense is amazing. It's as though if you write enough in technical terms with lots of statistics carefully recited you can overwhelm the "common sense factor."

    Hey City Council - how about common sense, not obfuscation? How about engagement with the residents, even if it makes reaching a GOOD decision harder.

  2. It's not exactly a path to nowhere. I used it yesterday on my commute home. It allows me, or anyone else, to stay off San Pablo for an extra two blocks, and anything that does that is worthwhile.

  3. Some people will probably use the new path; I've already noted the garbage strewn about around the two benches near the Arizmendi Promenade chicken wings place. The question, as the Tattler deftly asks is would the money spent on this path have been better used by the city in other parts of town? I think the answer is yes.

    I'm not sure why Pixar wanted to go ahead and build this thing...PR probably.

  4. 3 things, 1)Why didn't Charlie take his 1st choice and name it "Bryant Park". 2)Pixar built this park at a fraction of what the city would have paid to construct this park. 3)On the general plan, the pathway continues through the AC Transit yard to the center of community life site. Let Pixar build it and be done with it.