Category Archives: Blog

WOBO Urges Change to Harrison at 23rd as a Result of Pedestrian Fatality

On Friday, June 2, Robert Bennett was killed while walking his dog in the crosswalk at Harrison & 23rd Street, a dangerous and intimating stretch of roadway. We mourn the tragic loss of life of this long-standing Oakland resident, husband and father of five children. We are urging swift action by Oakland Department of Transportation (OakDOT) to eliminate the hazards on Harrison Street at 23rd, where Robert Bennett lost his life.  Every preventable death is a great tragedy. Mr Bennett’s death is even more heartbreaking as this intersection is known as a longstanding problem. We invite OakDOT into a dialogue with other community members to jumpstart changes to this street segment as well as re-evaluate how Oakland prioritizes street improvements.

Read East Bay Times article on Robert Bennett’s death

Read our letter to OakDOT urging immediate safety improvements on Harrison Street

Ryan Russo
Director, OakDOT

250 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Suite 400
Oakland CA 94612

Re: Pedestrian Fatality at Harrison & 23rd Street

Dear Director Russo:

Walk Oakland Bike Oakland (WOBO) is a non-profit pedestrian and bicycle safety advocacy organization based in Oakland, and we are heart-broken with news of another person dying while walking.  This time, we mourn the tragic death of Robert Bennett of Research Development Associates, while he was walking his dog crossing Harrison Street at 23rd Street, Friday, June 2, 2017. We were founded in 2007 advocating for safety improvements one block away. Now, ten years later, no improvements have been made to Harrison Street north of Grand Avenue, a far too dangerous street as currently designed as a freeway connection between downtown Oakland and 580. It needs to be fixed right away.

Mr. Bennett, and in fact no resident of Oakland, should ever have to walk across a six-lane roadway in a neighborhood where people live, work and enjoy Oakland everyday. It’s one thing for Middle Harbor Road to have six travel lanes out at the Port of Oakland, but Harrison Street is a popular neighborhood street in a densely-populated part of Oakland, used by many people enjoying Lake Merritt everyday, buttressed by schools, market and senior housing. It has to function as a safe place for people walking and bicycling.  And for that, the safety of Oakland residents has to be of utmost priority.

We ask that:

  1. Harrison Street between Grand Avenue and 24th Street immediately be striped as a four-lane street. Harrison Street is currently a four-lane street on both ends of this two-block segment, and thus this dangerous stretch of Harrison Street does not need to be as wide as it is;
  2. A rapid flashing beacon be installed at 23rd Street;
  3. Stripe the median as a wider median and/or add bike lanes to these two blocks with the room created from reducing travel lanes;
  4. Implement your grant-funded Lakeside Family Streets project as soon as possible to make Harrison and surrounding streets safe for walking and bicycling.

The Broadway Valdez Specific Plan and the Oakland Pedestrian Plan both address safety needs on Harrison Street and our proposed ask above is consistent with these adopted city plans. Walk Oakland Bike Oakland in fact submitted a Comment Letter on the Broadway Valdez Specific Plan, asking for road diets and protected bike lanes throughout the plan area, including Harrison Street. We also note that Robert Prinz of the Oakland Bicyclist and Pedestrian Advisory Commission submitted a SeeClickFix report in December 2015 on the dangerous design of this very intersection: The delay in implementing changes are the symptoms of chasing improvements at the mercy of the paving schedule and prioritizing automobile throughput speeds over neighborhood livability.

Please make these safety improvements immediately before someone else is killed on this dangerous stretch of Harrison Street. We understand concerns about traffic flow and need for neighborhood input, but argue that interim safety improvements should come first and serve as an opportune moment to assess the changes before finalizing any final, permanent designs for this street.

Thank you in advance for prioritizing this safety issue.


Chris Hwang

WOBO Board President


Cc: Zac Wald, Councilmember Lynette McElhaney

Nicole Ferrara, OakDOT

Richard Raya, Councilmember Abel Guillen

Robert Ogilvie, SPUR

Dave Campbell, Bike East Bay

Still Working to Get Telegraph Avenue Fixed

When national experts came to Oakland in 2014 to help Oakland redesign Telegraph Avenue, they asked “why did you choose such a challenging street for your first protected bike lane?” Our response was to get a 2nd opinion and go to Copenhagen to consult Danish expertise. Here’s our blog about that. In hindsight, the US experts had a point.

In the KONO District, Telegraph is a challenging street, mainly due to a high level of loading/unloading, drop offs, pick ups, and other curbside activities, and the off-set intersections, which all compete with your new protected bike lanes. Portions of Telegraph Avenue above and below the KONO District have less curbside commotion and can more easily handle protected bike lanes. But in KONO, parking confusion persists. When redesigning Telegraph, we focused more on avoiding congestion with fewer lanes, and less on curbside activities. In hindsight, physical elements should have been part of the project from the get go–lesson learned.

Physical elements in the buffered areas are planned and now funded. We expect more temporary flex posts and clearer signage to be installed this Spring, which should reduce parking confusion in the brown pained corner areas and improve sight lines. In 2018, more permanent physical barriers will be installed. These can include flex posts, curbs, planters, and/or artwork. However, before permanent barriers go in, further community engagement will take place to ensure added the physical elements and other street upgrades work for all users of the street. We are working closely with the KONO Business Improvement District, First Fridays, St. Augustine’s Church, and many supportive and concerned businesses, and won’t stop until the street is working much better.

Mind you, many people love Telegraph’s new bike lanes. Bike counts are already up 52% and a vast majority of people bicycling and walking say the street is safer. And business is up in the KONO District. Telegraph Avenue was chosen as a bikeway in Oakland’s 2007 Bicycle Master Plan for a reason. Walking across Telegraph’s two travel lanes rather than four lanes as before is way safer and more enjoyable, as was envisioned in the 2005 Telegraph Avenue Pedestrian Streetscape Improvement Project. “The single traffic lane each way cuts down on speeding and people walking have fewer lanes to cross–the design is way better than before,” says Colin Dentel-Post, Oakland resident. Traffic is also flowing just fine, as we predicted, as it has always done on Oakland’s 43 other road diet projects. Telegraph’s redesign has won a national award. However, the project is not a success until the parking issue is resolved.

Fulton Street’s new protected bike lanes in Berkeley largely avoided parking problems by installing flex posts on day one when the bike lanes opened last May 2016. Parking compliance there exceeds what you experience on regular bike lanes out in traffic. Plus, intersection approach designs are better on Fulton Street, improving the experience for residents and students bicycling. All cities, though, are learning how to design and construct better protected bike lanes, and all with our help.

This March, Oakland is opening a new short stretch of a protected bikeway on upper Broadway, above Keith Avenue with Oakland’s 1st bike traffic signal. Oakland has also designed and funded protected bike lanes on Fruitvale Avenue west of E.10th Street and on 20th Street/Harrison Street between Broadway and Lake Merritt. On 14th Street, Oakland received a $10.5 million grant to design and build protected bike lanes through downtown–what promises to be a signature bikeway project. Oakland is studying new bike lanes for Park Blvd. Should they be protected bike lanes? The experience of Telegraph Avenue is informing all these projects, as well as the design of extended bike lanes on Telegraph Avenue north of 29th Street.

What you can do:

  1. Continue to give us feedback on Telegraph’s design. Use SeeClickFix‘s mobile app or send an email WOBO Board Member Dave Campbell
  2. Shop businesses on Telegraph Avenue and thank them for being on a more bike-friendly street
  3. Make sure your WOBO membership is current, helping us parlay your support into a well-connected network of safe bikeways

Estuary Crossing Bike Ped Bridge


Our Goal: build a bicycle and pedestrian moveable bridge connecting Alameda and Oakland.

Our Work

There is a critical gap for bicyclists and pedestrians traveling between west Alameda and downtown Oakland. Travel is currently limited to the Posey Tube walkway which is too narrow to accommodate wheelchairs — let alone a steady flow of bikers and pedestrians. Anyone who has traveled the tube has not come out unscathed, due to the unavoidable walls caked with soot from car traffic (imagine what that exhaust is doing to your lungs!).

WOBO is working alongside multiple organizations (including Bike East Bay and Bike Walk Alameda) to advocate for a new bridge. This bridge would provide 24x7x365, convenient, and enjoyable access for everyone. Benefits would include congestion relief for commuters, increased economic activity on both sides, increased equity for the nearby underserved community, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and, last but not least, a perfect opportunity to enjoy a leisurely bike ride or stroll over the estuary.

Bike Walk Alameda has been tackling this project since 2006 but the “Bridge the Gap” campaign was officially launched in May of 2016. Progress has been made including a positive feasible study, but we need your help to make this a reality.  

Get Involved

Stay up to date on this project by joining our mailing list!

Become a Walk Oakland Bike Oakland member and support this campaign!

Oakland Lands $16 Million for Protected Bike Lanes on 14th Street and Fruitvale Avenue

California’s Active Transportation Program has awarded Oakland a pair of hefty grants to redesign two popular bike routes: 1) 14th Street in downtown Oakland-$10.5 million, and 2) Fruitvale Avenue west of Fruitvale BART-$5.5 million. The 14th Street project will become a signature bikeway project for Oakland, connecting West Oakland and East Lake to the downtown, while the Fruitvale Avenue project upgrades an existing bike lane to Oakland’s first raised bike lanes. Both projects receive their grants starting late 2019. However, with passage of Measure KK, Bike East Bay and Walk Oakland Bike Oakland will push Oakland to build an interim bikeway sooner on 14th Street.

14th Street Design

14th-st-rendering_cover14th Street will be redesigned with one through travel lane in each direction for vehicles, curbside protected bike lanes with protected intersections at several locations, bus boarding islands for the AC Transit line 26, and bike traffic signals at busy cross streets. The project extends 1.7 miles from Oak Street to 980. It could become a model bikeway project for Oakland and one we have been pushing for since 2013. Oakland receives more bicycling-related complaints about this street than any other. However, there will be major pushback against a road diet on 14th Street and any potential relocation of on-street parking with the project. If you bike 14th Street, look for updates next year on this project and be ready to help.

Fruitvale Avenue Design

fruitvale-ave-gap-closureFruitvale Avenue gets a major makeover between the Estuary and E.12th Street, providing a much-improved bikeway connection to the island of Alameda. The project will have Oakland’s first raised protected bike lane (or ‘cycle track’ as it is often referred to). Gateway features are included, new street trees will be added between the raised bikeway and travel lanes, and integrated bus boarding islands built. It’s Oakland’s most ambitious and capital-intensive bikeway to date. Thanks to much input from the community, including Bike East Bay and WOBO members, we do not expect any pushback.

For other East Bay cities that did not receive funding for their projects, a regional round of Active Transportation Program grants should be announced early next year. All applications that did not get state funding automatically move into the regional round of scoring. To see how your East Bay city scored at the state level for its ATP applications, go here.

More details about Oakland’s ATP grant applications are included at the end of this Oakland BPAC agenda packet.

Park Blvd Community Meetings

park-blvd-comm-mtg-graphicThe City of Oakland’s Department of Transportation (OakDOT) cordially invites you to attend community outreach meetings to hear your concerns about transportation safety and mobility on Park Boulevard corridor (Highway 13 to East 18th Street).  OakDOT will also update you on the various efforts that are ongoing on different sections of Park Blvd. Walk Oakland Bike Oakland also encourages you to attend and let OakDOT know you are quite ready for Park Blvd to have modern, comfortable bike lanes the whole way.

Community Meeting #1
Wednesday, November 16, 6:30-8:00pm
Park Blvd Presbyterian Church Gym
4101 Park Blvd

Community Meeting #2
Thursday, November 17, 6:30-8:00pm
FM Smith Recreation Center
1969 Park Blvd

Please feel free to attend either date, as the content will be the same both nights.  Please also share and circulate this flyer to interested parties.

Download the Community Flyer from OakDOT

More on Bike East Bay’s and Walk Oakland Bike Oakland’s Park Blvd Bikeway Campaign

More info or questions contact Chad Havens, Michael Baker International:       tel.  510.879.0871

Wladimir Wlassowsky, P.E.
City Traffic Engineer
Transportation Services Division Manager
Oakland Public Works Department