The Future of San Pablo Avenue

As if planning for the future of mid-Solano were not enough, the first public meeting regarding planning for the future of San Pablo Avenue took place in Albany a week ago last Thursday. Planning is really heating up as or because the planet is too.

The Alameda County Transportation Commission (Alameda CTC) as an agency is leading this effort. It presented three alternatives. Concept C leaves the street essentially as is with some minor adjustments. Concept B with center-running dedicated bus lanes, one through general traffic lane, and dedicated general traffic right turn lanes at major intersections. And Concept A is the same as the last but with a parking-protected cycling lane in one direction and a buffered cycling lane in the other.
The general preference was for Concept B (center bus lanes only). Concept C does not facilitate bus transit, which service is projected to decline dramatically due to increasing traffic congestion. Concept A removes parking all day long on one side and the cycling lanes provided end before major intersections to make way for general traffic dedicated right turn lanes, so they do not accomplish much. In contrast, parking in Concept B in the northbound direction is prohibited during the evening commute to reduce congestion but is otherwise available.
However, Concepts A and B move the bus stops away from major intersections to preserve space there for dedicated general traffic left turn lanes. It is odd, to say the least, to propose improving bus transit by degrading it by moving the stops away from the main intersections where retail is centered. Also odd is that Alameda CTC did not list keeping the bus stops at major intersections as an advantage in Concept C as the converse of this disadvantage in Concepts A and B.
Concept B also requires providing parallel relaxed cycling routes since they are not provided on San Pablo.  The Alameda CTC counts these a positive, discounting that using them would impose up to a three quarter mile detour in some areas (not in Albany). So this feature of Concept B is neutral as best, and reasonably considered a negative.
There is actually another concept considered by Alameda CTC that it ruled out without showing to the public. This is dedicated side-running bus lanes. Alameda CTC ruled this out because it would not sufficiently improve bus transit operations because motorists would be allowed to enter the lane to turn right and parallel park. However, it seems there may be signalization means to address the first concern. Against this downside, this concept, call it D, has the safest conditions for sidewalk users at major intersections because it allows bulbouts, the best conditions for people cycling because it provides protected lanes right up to all intersections.

It is not clear whether Concept B or D is better. AS&R is considering undertaking advocacy to get Concept D considered equally and in parallel with the others to provide a more meaningful process.

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1 comment to The Future of San Pablo Avenue

  • Mike Hall

    Bulb-outs are a proven hazard to cyclists. Once built, they’re harder to remove even than the 3-per-block speed bumps that we all enjoy. Please resist this bulb-out fad.

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