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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sherwin Williams Project is More Important Than Any Bike Blvd Says City Council

Almost 4000 Cars Per Day Coming To 
Horton Street

City Council Says Bike Boulevard Not Compatible With Sherwin Williams Project

"Unavoidable" Conflict

'Horton Street Bike Blvd Has To Go'

The Emeryville City Council voted to finally and permanently load up Horton Street with at least 3980 vehicle trips per day as a consequence of their November 1st approval of the contentious Sherwin Williams project.  That glut of cars, a third more than the maximum allowable to enable the street to be a bike boulevard according to the City’s own rules, was found by the Council to be a “significant, adverse and unavoidable effect” when they approved the Sherwin Williams project according to the Council’s own ‘Statement of Overriding Considerations’ they signed precluding the bike boulevard and green lighting that housing development.
Horton Street Today
Weekends are quiet and safe for biking.  Weekdays are
chock-a-block with traffic.  After Sherwin Williams
gets built never again will Horton Street be quiet
and safe for biking at any time. 
The Council, four of the five of them having spent much public airtime claiming to be strongly supportive of the Horton Street Bike Boulevard, now says it regrets the demise of the idea of a bike boulevard for the street but the Sherwin Williams housing project will add almost 500 market rate apartment units to our town they hasten to add with their Statement of Overriding Considerations, and that’s more important than any bike boulevard.  

The idea for a bike boulevard on this street has been a someday-to-be realized dream of bicyclists for years and is even ensconced in the City of Emeryville’s General Plan but there has been a remarkable lack of political will over the years by the City Council to actually deliver it.
The maximum number of vehicle trips per day allowed for a bike boulevard in Emeryville is 3000, a number already exceeded on Horton Street.  But because of the Sherwin Williams housing project, an unavoidable minimum of 3980 vehicle trips per day will be using the street according to the Environmental Impact Report for the project.  The street is unsafe today and after the City Council’s capitulation to the Sherwin Williams developer on November 1st, will now become increasingly more unsafe for bike use as a bike boulevard.
Mayor Dianne Martinez
Bikes are OK but providing more housing
is an emergency.
Housing will "add life and vitality" to the
neighborhood and inexplicably will
"improve bicycle connections" in
the neighborhood she and her
colleagues say.

So what’s the deal about the 3000 vehicle trips per day?  Isn’t Horton Street a bike boulevard now?  Some might say because the City has painted stencils on the asphalt claiming as much, that’s good enough to call it a bike boulevard.  People could say that but they would be wrong, because like many things in this world, opinion, however vigorously stressed, does not make the thing so.  Rather, bike boulevards are defined by the City of Emeryville as ‘bike priority’ streets with specific parameters encoded by the City, in this case limits on vehicle speeds and vehicle volumes.  A bike boulevard is not a feeling or a desire; it’s something the City has quantified.   

Will bikes still be able to continue to use Horton Street after the Council’s Statement of Overriding Considerations?  Yes, but Horton Street is just an average albeit dangerous street loaded up with cars like San Pablo Avenue or Hollis Street.  Like those other streets, it is not safe for bikes according to the General Plan.  Unlike those other streets, Horton Street has purple signs and stencils on it erroneously giving bicyclists the impression the street is quiet and they are safe using the street.  And that makes Horton Street actually more unsafe than the other streets.  And now the City Council has sealed the fate of the Horton Street Bike Boulevard; it will never be a bike priority street, a quiet and safe street for bikes that Emeryville residents have said they want.  The people of Emeryville never said they want more housing.  The City Council never promised the voters that if we vote for them, they’ll deliver more than 200% Association of Bay Area Government’s recommended quantity of market rate housing as they now have. They have said that if we vote for them they WILL deliver a better and safer bicycling environment, one specifically with bike boulevards; a campaign promise they have yet to fulfill and what now presents as a fait accompli for . 


  1. This doesn't make any sense, they're just getting ready to install the temporary traffic calming on Horton that was decided on a couple of years ago. If they're not going to do the bike blvd then why do the traffic calming?

    1. You raise an excellent point. Why indeed? It's absurd on its face: right after signing the document that says a bike boulevard is going to be impossible for Horton Street because there will be 4000 vehicles per day, they're poised to do a program of traffic calming (albeit Level Three where the General Plan calls for Level Four) to try to deliver the bike boulevard metric of less than 3000 vehicles per day. The Tattler is going to do a story about this very subject in the coming few days. Watch for it. To answer your question, it has to do with optics more than actual public policy (surprise surprise, right?).

  2. It's true the council is getting ready to do temporary traffic calming on Horton north of 45th st. They approved sherwin williams after they approved this traffic calming so you have to wonder what's going on. What are they thinking? First they say yes to trying for a bike blvd and then they say it's not possible. Now they're going ahead with traffic calming. How much money are they spending just so they can say they like bikes?

  3. In the whole scheme of things in Emeryville, bikes don't really matter. Talks about making it safer for bikes is just talk from the city council. In the end, it's not that they don't like bikes, it's that they don't really care. Building more apartments and more biotech towers is what they care about. Surprised?

    1. You are right. This is the city that diverted the Bay Trail to the Bay Street Mall. Shame on them. What a disgrace.