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Sunday, December 23, 2012

City Council Hears Angry Neighbors On Bike/Ped Paths, Can't Hear Us

People Don't Like To Live Near 
Public Bike/Pedestrian Paths

So Should We Not Have Paths? 
Last week, the Emeryville city council voted NO to two bike/pedstrian paths that the General Plan says should be installed.  The council faced angry neighbors, so they're going to amend the General Plan to get rid of the two paths.  It seems a rash decision, even though we recognize there's a cynical logic to it.
Think about it...if you live right next to a public bike/pedestrian path there's going to be some downside: noise, litter, lessening of privacy and possible criminal activity.  It's understandable how people that live near these paths would think the downside outweighs the upside.  But what about everyone else?  Well, for them, a bike/ped path in their neighborhood would be just upside.
So how should a city council decide about the fate of such paths?

In our city, the city council listens to the complainers, not everyone least when it comes time to consider a bike/ped path.  The council has its own upside/downside calculations to make.  The upside for the council is they get to mollify angry neighbors, the down side is...well there's no downside to saying NO to these paths.
Without a newspaper in town and as a result of the general ignorance among the residents about how the council conducts the public's business; the council takes the path...the path of least resistance.  But is the general public being well served by this kind of politics?
We say no.

We don't think the city council should be able to cheapen the public realm and get away clean like they do.  We think there should be a price to be paid for disregarding the general public's interests just like there's a price they must pay when they go against angry residents at the council chambers.  Otherwise, we get the kind of town we now find ourselves in, politics conducted by cowardly council members controlled by the lowest common denominator.

We expect the council to try to work with angry residents who may feel put upon by the imposition of a public amenity such as these paths represent.  Compromising can be done to help ameliorate the worst effects on the immediate neighbors.  Things like building privacy and sound walls, not allowing hiding places for criminals, lighting that doesn't bleed into private property, and so on.

Depriving Emeryville residents of much needed and wanted bike/ped connections like the council is doing is a low minded, knee-jerk reaction that should not be tolerated.  And what of our new General Plan that informs the council on how to build a connected city?  Is this the kind of piddling and political amending we should be doing?  Again, we say no.


  1. In this case, the compromise should have been making the pathway straight or having gates on the path locked at night so that the pathway would not be used as a campground. Instead, the council has decided to scrap the project alltogether. Brinkman commented on the pathway and said, "this is a pathway to nowhere". As a Triangle neighborhood resident and someone who would use the pathway, I don't believe that to be true, any type of additional pedestrian connectivity as an alternative to San Pablo Avenue is welcome here.

  2. The neighbors who spoke out about the pathway are not against it going in. They just want it to be safe.

  3. One of the key reasons I live in Emeryville and am about to purchase a condo here is the bike paths in the General Plan. This is sad news. The path from Berkeley Bowl to Bay Street should be a key feature of the city. Looks like I need to start attending the meetings as a complainer!

  4. I am not familiar where the paths would be or would have been.Would someone post the location that was considered?

  5. forget that last question. just read the other article, my mistake.

  6. People will complain about anything. Fair enough, but let's hope more council member time goes to listening to the bike-pedestrian advisory committee, engineers, whatever.

    San Pablo Ave. is a speedway. Lax police enforcement of basic traffic laws has made it a senseless hazard for everyone, whether on foot, on bikes, or in cars.

    Yesterday I had occasion to use the bike lane on Market Street in San Francisco. It's a bit of an obstacle course, but still what a fine way to get from Point A to Point B. Hats (and helmets) of to whoever had the guts and smarts to get that bike lane past all the naysayers.

    We need more guts and smarts like that in Emeryville!