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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hard Won Horton Street Bike Boulevard Victory

After 12 Years, Yellow Turns Red

After 12 years of fighting, Emeryville's Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee recently managed to convince the City Council to remove a controversial yellow parking zone on Horton Street near the Amtrak station and today the Public Works Department ceremoniously painted over the yellow curb with red paint.  Bicyclists in the bike lane will now no longer have to swerve out into the vehicle travel lane to avoid hitting commercial vehicles parked in the infamous yellow zone, blocking the bike lane.  It's been a long hard slog for bicyclists to simply convince lawmakers to remove this one dangerous parking spot and bikers tonight are celebrating.

Small Victory Anywhere Else
In any other town the simple removal of a single unsafe parking spot would hardly be a cause for celebration.  It would just be considered normal government functioning, not even newsworthy.   This isn't any other town however, this is Emeryville, and the parking spot in question wasn't just any spot, it was a spot prized by Wareham Development, the most favored developer in town.
According to rumors, Wareham Development recently told city officials they no longer objected to removing the parking spot, freeing the Council to finally placate the bicyclists.  For their part, the Council didn't explain why they changed their minds about turning the commercial parking zone into a no parking zone.
Over the years the East Bay Bicycle Coalition and the California Bicycle Coalition joined Emeryville's Bike Committee in pleading the City Council to rectify the dangerous condition.  The Bike Committee itself voted unanimously three times to get rid of the parking spot but to no avail...until now.

The yellow zone was created in 2001 by the City Council after Wareham Development asked for it as a result of their new building at 5980 Horton Street being constructed without a commercial parking area for delivery trucks.  Wareham looked instead to the City of Emeryville to provide a free on street parking spot for their tenants use.  Bicyclists in town cried foul after the City painted the curb yellow in the bike lane but for 12 years the Council showed no interest in the bicyclist's concerns.  Former City Councilman John Fricke even told his colleagues that the yellow zone in a bike lane might actually be illegal, inviting a lawsuit if a bicyclist were to be hurt as a result of swerving into the travel lane but the Council majority was unmoved and still the yellow zone remained, vexing bicyclists....a tangible metaphor for who runs this town.

As of today, all of that is now past.  A yellow zone is removed today in Emeryville...what's next?
A victory 12 years in the making!  
An unsafe bike condition is removed
on the Horton Street Bike Boulevard.


  1. Nice! One curb at a time.
    Thanks Brian!

  2. but let's see what happens when construction starts on our veritable "transit center."

  3. The council didn't change their minds about it. Wareham gave them the okay to change it. We know who REALLY runs Emeryville.