1. What is your #1 priority to improve pedestrian safety and access in your district?
I’ve been talking for months about the need to repair our sidewalks in all of the commercial districts and many of the residential neighborhoods in District One. I will make strengthening and thorough implementation of the city’s Pedestrian Master Plan a higher priority and make sure money is set aside as part of an infrastructure fund to pay for needed improvements. I support the placement of additional stop signs at key intersections—especially those where there are senior centers or senior living communities. Traffic lights should be timed to allow for pedestrians to cross safely. I will call for more traffic light intersections with countdown icons. I support the ‘Complete Streets’ philosophy as part of implementing further development in Oakland.
For overall pedestrian safety, increasing the number of police officers is my first priority. Street crime is by far the greatest threat to pedestrians in Oakland. Getting more officers is a vital first step in increasing public safety, and more officers can improve traffic enforcement.
My top priority for improving District 1’s transportation network for pedestrians is focusing on Telegraph Avenue. Fully a third of the pedestrian/vehicle collisions in North Oakland last year happened along Telegraph. 40th and Telegraph has historically been the District 1 intersection with the most ped/vehicle collisions. The MacArthur Transit Village includes a number of important pedestrian improvements. In the short term, I want to focus on pedestrian safety during construction of the Transit Village, as work there may possibly create opportunities for more ped/bike/auto conflicts.
My number one funding priority is to continue pedestrian planning to maximize Oakland’s competitiveness under Measure B1’s Bike and Pedestrian Grant program (assuming it passes). We must also join efforts in Sacramento to carve out bike/ped funding in California’s MAP-21 allocation from the Federal government.
My number one regional/political priority is to back a strong bike/ped/transit supporter as Oakland’s new representative on the MTC.
Today, probably the biggest safety issue for pedestrians is the poor condition of Oakland sidewalks, particularly in residential neighborhoods. I understand that 2 years ago the city did a comprehensive survey of Oakland’s sidewalks and produced a list that ranked them in order of repair urgency.
My first priority with regard to sidewalk conditions would be in the commercial districts zoned for pedestrian retail such as Piedmont Ave., College Ave., and Temescal, to assure that those sidewalks are safe and conducive to commerce in those areas. That would include the surrounding residential neighborhoods where customers park to shop in the retail district.
A second, entirely different priority would be the restoration of traffic enforcement by the Oakland Police Dept. Staffing cuts eliminated nearly all traffic enforcement with the disbanding of the motorcycle squad (“motors”). Oakland drivers are careless about pedestrians in crosswalks, failing to yield to them, and also in red light right turn situations, imperiling those on foot. A strict enforcement policy to re-educate drivers in Oakland about the need to be watchful for pedestrians and to yield to them will enhance pedestrian safety and desire to walk.
I have both a policy priority and a geographic priority to answer this question.
Policywise, I argue that investing in making our streets more pedestrian friendly is also investing in crime reduction, and therefore, our City should be prioritizing its limited transportation resources for pedestrian improvements to serve these dual purposes. As I have said many times in my campaign, I support an alignment of our City resources to reduce crime, and transportation resources are key to that.
Bike and pedestrian improvements in low- and mixed-income communities with high crime rates serve multiple goals. For example, my neighborhood adopted a park and plaza several years ago at the intersection of Genoa and Adeline Streets. For many years, this was a prime location for drug dealing and burglaries. One of the city’s accomplishments over the last few years has been an improved mixed-use path crossing through the plaza. This investment in the park and increase in pedestrians and cyclists has been a big support to the neighborhood efforts to improve the park and maintain a more active community presence there to deter illicit activity. We have also significantly reduced gunshots in the area. This win-win approach, finding ways to simultaneously improve non-motorized access and increase “eyes on the street” to create a more active, vibrant, and safe community is a key way to accomplish more with our limited City resources, and an example of how I will seek out these opportunities as I did to save the Alameda County Health Department $6 million three years in a row.
Geographically, my priority area in the District for implementing the Oakland Pedestrian Network is Martin Luther King Jr. Way. (See pedestrian network map.) This street needs traffic calming, particularly leading up to highway on-ramps, in order to create a safer pedestrian environment. It is a transit corridor and there are many families with small children in the area. Cars pull over at night to mug pedestrians and then make a quick getaway onto the freeway. Making “complete street” improvements to this corridor, such as additional landscaping including “green streets” strategies, curb extensions, speed tables, and even parklets, will better accommodate more pedestrians (and cyclists) generating more eyes on the street, and slowing vehicles — another win-win way to address our City’s crime and transportation issues.
I also choose to focus on this area for implementation because of the timing: redevelopment plans are underway for Children’s Hospital, located at 52nd and MLK. Children’s Hospital will be making a major investment in the area and conducting an EIR for traffic mitigation. The hospital has hosted a number of community workshops where residents specifically requested investments in MLK as part of their redevelopment program. The combination of potential resources from Children’s hospital, the new BART median as a result of the earthquake retrofit, and an organized community of neighbors mean this area is ready for implementation.
This is also an example of a key point of my campaign platform: that Oakland must put itself in a position to ensure that major investments and new development always include improvements that make neighborhoods more walkable. As a Councilmember, I will fight to make sure we anticipate and capitalize on these kinds of infrastructural and private development projects to efficiently maximize their public benefits.
2. What is your #1 priority to improve bicycle safety and access in your district?
I have been a proud member of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition for several years. We need to stripe additional bike lanes called for in the Bicycle Master Plan and ‘green’ stripe all our bike lanes to set them apart from the street traffic. The primary reason that more people who can commute to work don’t, is that they don’t feel safe riding on city streets—especially during rush hour. We must change that, and I intend to be a leader in that effort.
Extending bike routes on Broadway from downtown to Rockridge would be my top priority for completing our bicycle network. The redevelopment of the Safeway shopping center at Broadway and Pleasant Valley provides a major opportunity to fix a terrible intersection.
Telegraph also requires attention, particularly in the southern part of the District. In addition to the poor quality road surfacing, 25% of all of the bike/car collisions in North Oakland last year occurred on the stretch of Telegraph between 41st and 46th. Perhaps the two phenomena are related.
Similar to my priorities for pedestrian access, I support continued planning to maximize Oakland’s competitiveness under Measure B1’s Bike and Pedestrian grant Program, and will back a strong bike/ped/transit supporter as Oakland’s new representative on the MTC.
Access first. Until Oakland has a good network of bicycle routes making it possible to ride safely and comfortably from North Oakland to downtown, and across North Oakland (e.g. Golden Gate to Rockridge), bicycle use and travel will not increase appreciably. Berkeley has a good network of bicycle boulevards on traffic-calmed streets; Oakland does not.
It is vital that bicycle travel be separated from auto traffic because of safety and concerns and personal comfort in bicycle travel. Direct routes dedicated to bicycle use are needed if bicycle travel is to increase. I would also advocate the installation of sensor-controlled traffic signals that can detect on-coming bicycle traffic and provide through-access without stopping when crossing auto traffic streets. Stopping and starting for bicycle riders are a major issue. Eliminating them through smart technology would encourage bicycle travel exponentially.
Another issue that needs to be addressed if bicycle use is to increase is provision for the parking of bicycles in the commercial and business districts of the city. If there are not safe, convenient places to park bicycles, people will not use them for minor shopping excursions.
In addition to being a TransForm Board member, my wife and I both bike to work and transit. As a father, my top policy priority to improve bicycle safety and access is that the streets surrounding our schools are safe enough—both from traffic and crime—so that our residents’ kids can also bike to school. My 12-year old son has to cross three major traffic corridors–MLK, Shattuck, and Telegraph–to get to middle school. Many of the intersections have no accommodation for cyclists, and this condition is common throughout Oakland, not just in my District.
Geographically, the City has already been through a prioritization effort for bike improvements that includes several locations in District 1. I would help the City to execute on these priorities. I plan to work with the bicycling community, EBBC, residents, and in particular, merchants, to streamline the implementation process by helping to communicate the economic, as well as environmental, public health, safety and many other benefits of providing world-class bicycling infrastructure along Oakland’s major corridors and within its neighborhoods.
3. WOBO has long supported a connected bike route connecting Berkeley, Downtown/Lake Merritt to West Oakland and through East Oakland to San Leandro. What parts of that route will you help implement as Councilmember?
I intend to be a council member who represents both District One and the entire City of Oakland. I will help with the entire route in Oakland, and will work with my colleagues in San Leandro to make sure they are on the same page (The Mayor and Vice-mayor of San Leandro have each endorsed my candidacy).
In District One in particular, I will be actively engaged in creating bike lanes on Broadway from Broadway Terrace through the Uptown district. This stretch of Broadway includes the Safeway-Rockridge shopping Center, Oakland Tech H.S. and Kaiser Hospital. I will also work on upgrading and extending the bike lanes on Telegraph, and on bike lanes on San Pablo Avenue in northwest Oakland as part of an effort that I will lead to revitalize and beautify the San Pablo corridor.
Telegraph and Broadway are the primary bikeways in District 1 we need to focus on for cross-town and intercity bike riding. I’d be a reliable supporter of biking, complete streets and pedestrian safety in all areas of the city.
What is listed is largely a north-south route. I would work to promote this in District 1, particularly the connection with Berkeley bicycle boulevards which currently stop abruptly at the border. These boulevards need to continue through North Oakland to downtown and beyond, and also go directly to West Oakland, Rockridge, and Golden Gate. In other words, bicycle routes need to be east-west as well as north-south if bicycle riders are to be encouraged to bike to most destinations in Oakland.
I also approve of the connection with San Leandro, and hope that the bicycle route would extend beyond to Hayward.
I believe the priority corridors in District 1 are Broadway: N-S from Lake Temescal to City Hall and Telegraph: N-S from Downtown to Berkeley.
A concerted effort will need to be made to implement the planned Class II bike route on Telegraph. As a major City corridor that connects Rockridge, Temescal, KONO, Uptown and Downtown, including providing access to multiple BART stations, Telegraph has an impressive volume of bike traffic despite having no official bike facilities south of HWY 24. Working with all parties will be critical to understanding and addressing concerns over parking, loading, transit access, and vehicle traffic volumes, and seeking innovative approaches to providing safe bike access to close the gap between HWY 24 and Downtown.
Bicycle facilities along Broadway are further along and are important to see through because of the need to improve safe access to and around the High School. Prioritizing gap closures in this bike route makes sense because of the progress that has already been made to stripe lanes on segments of Auto Row, and on Webster/Franklin. Working on the final segments of this route is the most expeditious way to create a complete N-S bike connection between Berkeley and Downtown while Telegraph picks up steam.
Please add any other comments (100 word limit) after responding to the questions above.
I am proud to be a member of WOBO and the East Bay Bicycle Coalition. And I am also proud to have the endorsement of the Sierra Club in this race. As a council member, I will champion the implementation of our bike and ped master plans, and I will seek to work with regional agencies to make sure we have sufficient funding to achieve our goals. My website is www.dankalb.netfor those who want information about my background, policy priorities and endorsements.
Oakland is moving away from an auto-centric approach to planning and transportation engineering, realizing the environmental and public health benefits of more biking and walking.
For me, biking and walking are also about social equity. Thousands of Oaklanders live without cars, depending on transit, bikes and walking to access services, employment and education. My work with foster youth and homeless families has shown me the human costs of transportation injustice. We can expand access without increasing driving. Oakland is on the right path, but we need to keep going. WOBO has, and will continue, be a big part of that.
As with most worthwhile goals, the devil will be in the details, removing disincentives to bicycle travel while enhancing the safety and convenience of this energy-friendly and healthy form of travel. The bicycle community has to be centrally-involved in the planning of the bicycle routes and amenities, and everyone needs to recognize that routes and arrangements may need to be changed once people begin to use the system. The process is like walking pathways in parks and on campuses. They are put in place, but the pedestrians show where and how they want to walk, and then the pathway is modified to adjust to the walkers’ on-the-ground preferences for getting from one place to another.
As a candidate, what sets me apart is my emphasis and experience implementing policies. We have an outstanding bike/ped plan adopted that needs leadership to get implemented. Oakland has a poor track record with timely delivery of infrastructure projects: this is slowing down implementation and hurting our ability to get grant funds to make further improvements. I will provide our City staff with the leadership needed to harness grassroots neighborhood support, create community and agency partnerships, and leverage investments made on other infrastructure and private development projects to champion project delivery and help us get through the red tape.