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Bike Safety Signs Coming to Masonic Avenue

Albany Strollers & Rollers advocates requested the signage last fall, when displaced greenway cyclists started using the street more. Click the "Keep me posted" button below for an update when we post a new story about the BART seismic project.

The city plans to paint “sharrows”—or "Share the Road" bike signs—on Masonic Avenue in the next two to three weeks, said Jeff Bond, Albany's Community Development Director.

Masonic has been getting since last fall when parts of the and its bike path were closed for BART retrofitting.

Because many cyclists choose to ride on the street, rather than on the fenced-in temporary path, on Masonic since October.

The signs are painted directly on the street in white, and feature a picture of a bike and two chevrons (arrows). They are meant to remind drivers and bicyclists to share the road. 

The signs will be painted 12 feet from the curb, Bond said, which is supposed to be a safe zone for cyclists, far enough from parked cars that they won’t get hit by opening doors.

Sharrows can be seen around Berkeley and El Cerrito, but have never been used on Albany streets before. City Engineer Randy Leptien approved the installation, Bond said.

The sharrows will be painted along the full length of Masonic Avenue through Albany, he said.

Two related cycling issues have not yet been decided, Bond said. One is how to stripe the new path on the Ohlone Greenway (for bike and pedestrian use) and another is whether to install the same fenced-in temporary path along Masonic when the next section of the greenway is closed for BART work.

Readers can share their thoughts on these matters with Bond at jbond@albanyca.org.

These two topics are likely to be on the , Bond said. The meeting takes place at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

Concerns about the BART project can be directed to the city's Public Works Department at 510-524-9543 or to BART's project information line for Albany, 510-412-5546, or by email to earthquakesafety@BART.gov.

Click the "Keep me posted" button below for an update when we post a new story about the BART seismic work.

If there's something in this article you think  , or if something else is amiss, call editor Emilie Raguso at 510-459-8325 or email her at albany@patch.com.

Ira Sharenow June 07, 2012 at 04:38 PM
I vote against the fenced in area. I think it makes bike riding much more dangerous. As for the bike path, I hope that those in charge are realistic. For example I sometimes bike just after high school gets out and so I expect students to block the road. I know at that time I have to share the road with pedestrians and so I just slow down. Also for the bike path, what is happening in El Cerrito and Berkeley? Are they using the same strategy as Albany? I think EC plans to have bicyclists and pedestrians share the path. I think there a main concern was that the path be relatively straight so that police officers passing by could look down the path. I hope that the path will be well lit and be visible from the street so people will feel safe at night. Does anyone have bike path crime statistics by time of day?
Zack M. June 07, 2012 at 05:59 PM
I think the fenced area succeeds in making riding safer, but not by riding in the fenced in area. By eliminating parked cars along that side, you're safe from getting doored or having cars trying to pull in and out. I think the fenced in areas themselves are best left for pedestrians or children biking, groups for which I think they improve safety quite a bit. Striping the new path with three lanes instead of two should absolutely be done. Having a designated pedestrian lane, even if not all walkers chooses to use it, will help give all users a more safe, shared space.
Mary Flaherty June 07, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Ira & Zack, please do share your thoughts with Jeff Bond (address at end of story). He is not required to reach Patch comments, but will read his e-mail.
Amy Smolens June 07, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Ira, I, like you, never use the fenced in replacement path. However, one of our members did a traffic count on a Saturday along the Masonic corridor just north of Portland in two hours and counted176 people traveling by bike and on foot. Slightly more than half were using the replacement path, many of them younger or less experienced riders who don't feel comfortable or safe on Masonic. AS&R believes this supports its position in favor of continuing the replacement path along the next Greenway closures. The Sharrows and corresponding Share the Road signs will heighten awareness of motorists, and make Masonic safer for riders like you and I who will continue to use the narrower Masonic.
Ira Sharenow June 07, 2012 at 09:12 PM
I rarely use the replacement path. However because the fence narrows the road, I sometimes feel unsafe riding in the regular road because I cannot go to my right to get away from a driver who is too close, so I reluctantly use the fenced in area. Late at night, it seems very dangerous because there are multiple types of two way traffic. I think it would be better to just make the fenced in area a no parking zone and paint some dividers. People can walk on the sidewalk. As for the new configuration of the bike path, I cannot suggest a specific configuration. However, I just hope the planners are realistic. For example sociable high school students will continue to walk several people abreast and bicycle riders will have to account for that. Also in order to feel safe from attach when I am walking I want to be where there is more traffic. I also note that in El Cerrito when the bike path gets to a street in the street there are yield to pedestrian signs. Maybe Albany should do the same.
Preston Jordan June 07, 2012 at 09:24 PM
A chart of AS&R's counts of people biking and on foot in the Masonic/Greenway corridor before and after closure of the Greenway is available in the image section of the article. It shows a substantial number of people are using the replacement path and that while many people shifted to biking on the street many did not. This is why AS&R has sought to maximize the number of options for people traveling by bike or foot in this corridor as well as maximize the safety of each option.
Ira Sharenow June 08, 2012 at 12:47 AM
My proposal: Give bicyclists a dedicated bike lane. AS&R: Force bicyclists to choose between biking between moving traffic and a fence or else trying to negotiate a narrow two-way traffic path that bicyclists have to share with pedestrians, skateboarders and others. This is the first time in my life I have had to bike between traffic and a fence. What other communities have adopted this strategy? I do not know what a two hour survey on a Saturday afternoon is supposed to show, but even if it is representative of traffic for all days and all hours of each day, what is the point? The path is there so people use it. The current situation squeezes me between moving traffic and the hard fence. My sense of well-being is compromised every time I am on that road. If I do not like the way traffic looks and I am in the middle of a block, there is no escape. I am a risk averse person. The current situation prevents me from taking avoidance actions such as getting off of my bike if I am concerned about traffic. By maximizing the options for pedestrians, AS&R has put bicyclists at risk. I recommend making the east side of the road in the impacted area a no parking zone.
Ira Sharenow June 08, 2012 at 12:48 AM
So let’s compare my proposal to the current situation. In both case cars will have the main part of the road. However in my proposal they have less risk of hitting bicyclists as there will be a dedicated bike lane. In both cases, pedestrians will have the sidewalk. The big difference is that in my proposal bicyclists will have a dedicated bike lane and in the current situation bicyclists have a choice of being squeezed between a fence and moving traffic or else entering a narrow path for two-way traffic in which bicyclists, pedestrians, skate boarders and others can move in either direction. In my proposal the pedestrians would not have the separate fenced in area, but why do they need it? Also did AS&R follow pedestrians? How many of the pedestrians eventually crossed over to the sidewalk side of the street because most destinations are on that side? My conclusion is that AS&R is willing to risk the well-being of bicyclists so that pedestrians are not marginally inconvenienced.
Preston Jordan June 08, 2012 at 06:13 AM
Where would the dedicated bike lane go exactly?
Ira Sharenow June 08, 2012 at 05:27 PM
My idea is that the area that is currently between the fence and sidewalk would be a designated one way bike lane with no parking allowed. The fence would be removed. The actual width would be determined by traffic experts. Pedestrians would still have the sidewalk, so their inconvenience would be close to zero. It would also be nice if the paving near the curb would be made level. In general when roads are paved it is important to meet the needs of bicyclists with thin tires.
Zack M. June 08, 2012 at 05:42 PM
But Ira, that's just a one-way bike lane. Where does that leave people going in the other direction? There's no way that parking will be removed on both sides during the construction, so your proposal seems to leave out the needs of half of the cyclists using the roadway. Also, the fenced in area appears no wider than the cars parked there originally were, especially factoring in riding out of the door zone, I'm guessing it actually gives a wider lane (which might also lead to faster traffic speeds, but that's another issue) and increased visibility, as you stand out more against a constant fence than the shifting visual of parked cars. Plus no need to feel tempted to ride further to the side where cars aren't parked and end up going in and out of traffic. I agree with you that the current situation isn't ideal, but I think it's among the best options available with the available space and restrictions. Also, I think any suggestion (or outright statement in your case) that AS&R doesn't care about the safety of cyclists is simply ridiculous. They are responsible for getting the signage and hopefully the eventual sharrows on the road, which should help make motorists aware and encourage safe sharing of the road.
Preston Jordan June 08, 2012 at 08:53 PM
As shown by the chart posted with this article, half the people cycling prefer the replacement path. Eliminating the path would put some of these riders (such as children) on the sidewalk on the west side of Masonic, and the others southbound on the road. The one accident I am aware of so far to which the closure contributed involved a motorist dooring a father and son cycling southbound on the road. So eliminating the path for the good of people cycling would dictate everyone either has to ride on the road or the sidewalk southbound. And people cycling on the sidewalk would be mixing with around fifty people walking there per hour, significantly degrading the level of service on the sidewalk. AS&R is advocating for a mix of facilities that provides people cycling with a choice. Some people like to ride faster even if it means sharing a main road with a lot of motorists. Some like to ride slower even if it means stopping at most intersections. This side steps choosing who has the "right" approach to cycling, and rather sets as a goal developing conditions that will provide the greatest number of people the comfort to ride. The City has committed to the facility mix approach in its Active Transportation Plan. This plan defines two cycling networks - one that is faster but with lots of motorists and one that is slower with fewer. Masonic is included in the former and the Greenway in the latter. The replacement path provides this mix during the closure.
Amy Smolens June 28, 2012 at 11:44 PM
"The city plans to paint “sharrows”—or "Share the Road" bike signs—on Masonic Avenue in the next two to three weeks..." Ok, we brought this up in October, someone was seriously doored on Masonic while avoiding the fenced-in path, the Sharrows and "Share the Road" signs were promised by the end of December 2011, spring came and went, we waited and requested again, people illegally took over some UC property, City Council acted based upon those unauthorized activities, this article was written on June 7th, summer is here, today it has been three weeks since the "two to three week" deadline was given. City Staff and City Council, INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW - - where are our Sharrows and properly installed "Share the Road" signs? This is beyond absurd at this point.

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