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Progress on the Ohlone Greenway

Here's what you'll find along the greenway as BART retrofitting moves to a new stage.

The new greenway path is now open between Solano Avenue and Marin Avenue. But the section between Solano Avenue and Portland Avenue has now closed for construction.

Julianne W. Sterling December 17, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Parking has been really terrible on our street for so, so long. We can't wait for the fence to come down. Is there an update about between Marin & Dartmouth?
Mary Flaherty December 17, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Yes: The Marin-to-Dartmouth section is due to re-open in mid-January. (See photo 3.)
Laurel Benjamin December 17, 2012 at 06:34 PM
For those of us who live near the strip, seeing the work area lay idle during dry weather was a real burn, let alone the postponement of completing the Gilman part, which really effects us pedestrians and bicyclists. The is SO overdue.
Preston Jordan December 17, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Thank you for the
Preston Jordan December 17, 2012 at 07:47 PM
I apologize for the comment misfire above. Thank you for the photos Patch. The first photo shows the path heading north from Marin across from the Library and Community Center. A couple problems with the design are evident. According to the City, there are supposed to be two-foot-wide, decomposed granite shoulders on either side. It is hard to see in the photo, but there is no shoulder on the west side in the segment shown. Even more problematic is the bicycle rack visible behind the orange construction fencing. Given its orientation and how close it is to the path, a bike parked there will block part of the path, and a bike with trailer or a long-tail bike will block a lot of the path. In addition, north of Portland there is a trash can bolted down right in the middle of the west side shoulder. I'll take a picture later and upload it. Such failures of design for people cycling and walking are turning out to be depressingly common. The City has built many curb ramps over the last few years that do not comply with engineering standards. Various people tried to get the City to change based on common sense, but it would not. Then it was found some of what they were asking for was actually the standard! This finally motivated the City, but too late for many ramps. Then there is the new signal pole installed in the middle of the sidewalk on the northeast corner of Jackson and Buchanan. What to do?
paul1 December 18, 2012 at 12:25 AM
There is a decomposed granite shoulder on the west side of the path. It just starts in a little farther from Marin than the E. side. It is no big deal, and shouldn't matter to anyone. It's like 50 ft. of not being able to walk on something you didn't get to enjoy till last week anyway. Worrying about the orientation of the bike rack for more than two seconds of your life also seems like a waste of time, for two reasons: 1) No one will probably park their bikes there. There's no reason to--it's like having a bike rack in the middle of a block with no businesses around. There are now plenty of racks at the community center for visitors there, and since no one simply hangs out under the BART track (well, except for this one guy), there is no reason at all to have a bike rack there. No one will use it. But... 2) if someone is silly enough to park their bike (during one of the two times a year someone ever parks a bike there) such that it sticks out into the path, rather than sticking it the other way, people will walk around without a single worry. There's so much room, it won't matter. I can't speak intelligently about the misplaced trashcan, but all these worries seem beneath consideration. I'm just glad it's finally done and people can now park (cars) on that side of the street, and we have a nice beautiful path.
Preston Jordan December 18, 2012 at 12:55 AM
Thank you Paul. There are a couple reasons I am concerned about the continuity of the shoulders and blockage of the path. First, the path is going to be striped with three lanes when it opens the length of Albany. The likely 4.5-foot wide each east and center lanes will be for people cycling north- and southbound, respectively. The likely 5-foot wide west lane along with the 2-foot wide west shoulder will be for people walking. I expect the 2-foot side shoulder on the east side will be preferred by runners due to its continuity. This is the configuration of all the most recent paths in the area (Bay Trail between Virginia and Ashby, path along Chrissy Field, path to the Golden Gate Bridge). It has been shown to work well with regard to people walking, running and cycling each having their own designated space so those that care can stay out of each other's way. The continuity of the shoulder on the west side is an important component of this configuration working well as it provides extra space for multiple people walking abreast or passing each other. In planning the path, the City indicated this shoulder would exist. Instead there is bike parking that will extend onto the path. And this parking may be used, such as for the garden swap that regularly takes place at this location if my memory serves.
Preston Jordan December 18, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Second, while the path is relatively vacant now due to the closures, when it reopens it will carry a lot of traffic. The number of people cycling through this area from 7 to 9 am on Bike to Work Day increased from under 100 six years ago to more than 500 more recently. An exceptional day to be sure, but the traffic on regular days is high and almost certainly growing as well. The goal is to have a path that will serve this growth for the next 20 to 30 years, which is about the age of the previous path.
Francois Dillinger December 18, 2012 at 01:37 AM
god this was supposed to be done ten months ago. Classic Albany..
paul1 December 18, 2012 at 06:44 AM
The path, altogether, is only about a foot narrower after the shoulder ends. Also, when it's wet, like during/after a rain, the "granite" is a soft, un-run-able mud puddle in many places. Peds will have to walk on the asphalt anyway during those times. I don't think the one-foot narrowing will make any difference to anyone. It's still much wider than it used to be, and that's plenty wide.
Preston Jordan December 18, 2012 at 07:00 AM
Thank you Paul. That is quite useful information. So trading off a two-foot shoulder for a one-foot greater width of paved path. That would provide a 6-foot wide walking lane with two 4.5-foot width cycling lanes if my understanding of the overall width you measured is correct. That seems a reasonable tradeoff. So that whittles the problems down to the bike parking potentially partially blocking part of the 6-foot walking lane, the trash can blocking the west shoulder north of Portland, and a yucca or some other sort of spikey plant overhanging the east shoulder north of Portland (which I did not mention before). I will try to swing by and get pictures of the latter two tomorrow morning and post them. It will be interesting to watch how the shoulders perform with time. My limited experience with decomposed granite is that it typically comes amended with a polymer stabilizer that binds the material together when it first gets wet. The polymer is a bit hydrophobic, so water does not initially drain through. With time something changes and the drainage of the material improves. I have no idea if the performance of the shoulders on the Greenway will follow that pattern, but I am hoping.
paul1 December 18, 2012 at 07:13 PM
i didn't think anyone else noticed that overhanging spikey plant. Coincidentally, just as you were writing the above, I was out in the darkness, hooded, looking about uneasily, cutting off the offending dead "branch" and shaving off some of the spikes. Should be passable now...I also trimmed away some of the branches of those young pines they stupidly planted about a foot and a half from the E. granite shoulder, just south of Brighton. I used to trim the former trail, all the way from Marin to Manilla, so that I could run more or less uninterrupted on the side trail. Neither the cities nor BART ever did it, so I took it upon myself. I hope you're right about the dainage of the granite--when really wet, it is mostly unrunnable now.
Amy Smolens December 18, 2012 at 07:57 PM
paul1, thanks for giving the spikey plant a haircut! Your next mission, should you choose to accept it, is to try and move the offending trash can, although that might prove a bit more challenging! I uploaded a pic of the one Preston mentioned in his Monday 11pm comment.
paul1 December 18, 2012 at 08:25 PM
I think that would put us into the realm of OPGA: Ohlone Parkway Guerilla Adjustment operations. We need some form of underground mandate and a brazen, unbalanced leader.
Preston Jordan December 20, 2012 at 07:41 AM
Thanks for the maintenance Paul. Hopefully the City will take that entire plant out at some point so that you don't have to give it monthly "hair cuts." Thank you for the photo Amy. I uploaded some more pictures of the trash can, and the "fix" implemented there, as well as a genuine fix at a nearby location. As to a brazen, unbalanced leader affecting its move, this leader would have to be a guerilla to move it given how firmly it seems to be attached to the ground.
Preston Jordan December 20, 2012 at 07:50 AM
My comment above regarding frustration that the City would not follow the curb ramp standard until advocates discovered this and pointed it out, despite giving the same input earlier based on common sense, has led me to reflect why this bothers me so much. Today I realized it might be because frequently when some walking or cycling improvement is being sought, engineers are quick to say it can't be done because of some specific standard to facilitate motorist travel. This repeatedly demonstrates detailed knowledge of those standards. Yet when it comes to abiding by standards to facilitate sidewalk use, a similar knowledge of standards is lacking. This results in a tendency toward outcomes where tails motorists win, heads everyone else loses.
Ray Collier December 20, 2012 at 04:35 PM
My wife and I are moving to El Cerrito in mid-February and will be living quite close to the del Norte station. I plan on biking to work daily and am concerned about the construction on the Ohlone Greenway that I have been reading about on this and other sites. Could you fine folks, who have been discussing trail maintenance details, provide me with some insight about my future commuting path (I will be riding to work at the USDA on Buchanan in Albany from our place in El Cerrito)? Thanks for any help you offer.
Preston Jordan December 20, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Hi Ray- Welcome to the area (almost). At the rate the seismic retrofit is proceeding, segments of the Greenway between El Cerrito and central Albany are going to be closed for years. I don't know the del Norte area in detail, but I suggest considering Richmond Street to Moeser, up Moeser to Ashbury, Ashbury (which changes names to Key Route in Albany) to either Washington or Solano, either of those (depending on which you prefer for riding down and crossing San Pablo) to Jackson, Jackson to Buchanan, and Buchanan to the USDA. Turning left from Buchanan into the USDA may be too hair raising for now, so you could consider crossing it at Jackson and using the sidewalk on the south side to the USDA. This is a bit out of your way and slightly hilly, but Richmond/Ashbury/Key Route are fast without too much motorist traffic. Much faster than the Greenway even when it is open. The most direct connection to Richmond Street at the north end is Elm, but it has a short, steep hill. Taking the Greenway to Blake Street if it is open, and then Blake to Richmond is a way around this hill. Besides the Greenway construction, construction will also be occurring on Buchanan over the next eight months to year. An off street cycling path and on street sharrows will be added on the south side and cycling lane on the north side, which will help your commute. Take care.
Ray Collier December 22, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Thank you Preston for your insight, it is greatly appreciated. We are coming to the East Bay from Pullman, Washington, so I'm sure I will experience quite a shock transitioning from riding in a pretty low traffic area to what seems like combat bicycling. I've stocked up with bright colors, helmet, lights, etc. Hopefully I don't need Kevlar!
Amy Smolens December 22, 2012 at 09:48 PM
@Ray, you and your wife will familiarize yourselves with the bike routes before too long. And the weather will be better for riding year round than the Palouse! Another option is the Bay Trail, which is a long stretch of uninterrupted bike/ped path, with beautiful views to boot. Once you get off the Bay Trail at Buchanan St, activate the 'walk' signal eastbound, ride the underpass loop under the freeway onramp, take the path on the bridge over the train tracks, exit the bridge, hang a Uturn and ride west and south back under Buchanan - voila, you're at the USDA. It's more confusing to explain than to do. Maybe it's better to do it on your ride home to figure it out. I'm sure there are people, myself included, who'd show you the way.
Preston Jordan December 23, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Thank you for suggesting Ray check out a route involving the Bay Trail Amy. In developing route recommendations between BART and the new shoreline campus my work will be constructing, the level of crime along the various direct routes between del Norte and the Bay Trail concerned me to the point I recommended against them in favor of routes from El Cerrito Plaza. I exercise discretion with regard to crime in picking or recommending routes that will be followed more frequently, such as for commuting. For routes that are followed only occasionally, I pay little attention to crime. Ray, you can map crime in the area through two websites if you would like to consider this factor in your route selection for yourself. Crime in El Cerrito and Albany can be mapped through crimereports.com. Crime in Richmond can be mapped through http://crimeview.ci.richmond.ca.us/crimeviewcommunity/. I deselected all categories except violent crime and then selected the past 120 days (the maximum range in the Richmond system) when I was considering route recommendations for my employer. Crime in Richmond can be mapped by police beat through the "within a boundary" tab on the "where" tab. Routes from del Norte to the Bay Trail pass primarily through Beat 3 and a bit of Beat 1. In considering the above, it might be helpful to know I probably weigh violent crime along a commute route more highly than most men because I was the victim of one during a commute before I moved to Albany.
Amy Smolens December 23, 2012 at 10:34 PM
The time of day will probably affect when anyone feels safe to ride on a particular route. I've ridden in that area many times in the day w/ friends of mine, a 50-something y/o (he is probably 60) couple who live near DNB, so asked them for their route from DNB to the Bay Trail. He sent me the following as "the route ____ and I use all the time with no problems whatsoever." From Bart head south and take Lexington ave. to Potrero ave. Turn Right onto Potrero. Go under Freeway and make the first Left onto 55th St. Go a few blocks and turn Right onto Gately. (just 1 block long) Go Left on Ells St. ("T" intersection) Go Right onto Bayview Ave. Cross overpass then turn Left at Seaport (stop sign) Make an immediate Left onto S. 51 St. and go 1 short block to the Bay Trail entrance. Preston and Ray, this may help both of you get where you want to go, esp. when the Greenway is under construction.

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